Before heading to Cuba, my friends assumed they’d only see me during breakfast. I assumed they’d only see me during meals and on the way to somewhere because 1. I hate eating alone and 2. the more people, the cheaper the taxi. I’m a selfish bugger. I’m happy to announce that they saw me pretty much all day, every day, except when they went to the club and it was nana’s bedtime. P.S. I’m nana. I’m so proud of me! It got me thinking that I can do this whole “group travel” thing, at least with the right people, and that I’d better get it together because I actually have two more group trips this year. I figured I’d share some tips and pointers for helping to organize group travel, but more importantly, tips for surviving group travel.
Heaven knows I despise a group chat and I will remove myself almost immediately. However, they can help when organizing travel. Now I prefer a good old fashioned email. And because I religiously check my emails, I would never miss one. But seeing as how people will get text messages and not even see them or reply, imagine what they do to do emails.
Create a group chat for your trip…AND ONLY RELATED TO YOUR TRIP (I hate when people go off topic or have side conversations while my number is still added to the chat). I don’t need to know about the latest celebrity gossip from a group chat about a group trip. This is where you should discuss anything you need to such as collecting money, taking a survey of activities you may book, find out who exactly is booking what, and the next subject, meeting points.
Because my flight to Cuba was on a totally separate airline than my friends, and we were flying to a country with virtually no wifi, we needed to come up with a place to meet. We did not do that, especially since I’d be arriving first and I was just going to find their departure gate or wait in a spot where I couldn’t miss them. But if you have someone in your group who is not like me, or is like me in the sense of never trying to be on the same plane, then you guys need to come up with a meeting point. If you’re heading to a place where there’s no service, like Cuba, then maybe you should meet in front of the airport doors, or where taxi drivers hold up signs waiting for patrons. You may be thinking, Cuba is a one off and most places have wifi. But what if wi-fi is shoddy? I always have service for the most part all over the world, but people who don’t have T-Mobile (get T-Mobile y’all) or Sprint are usually s.o.l. in terms of being able to send a simple text from Italy, or South Africa.
More of the story: Know where you are going to meet whether it be an airbnb or restuarant because your friends arrive in a country while you’re just heading to lunch. Meetup points also come in handy when you have separate activities and then want to do something like a group dinner without having to head back to the hotel to gather everyone.
Speaking of activities. I think it’s smart to gauge what everyone else is trying to do on this trip beforehand. They might throw out an idea that you’ve never considered but would be interested in, or they may throw out something that only interests them, and you can say ahead of time that you won’t be partaking. This is especially great for someone like me who likes adventure activities, walking tours, and getting lost in museums. I don’t mesh well with someone who wants to visit the tourist hot spots or god forbid…a club.
Being in the group chat is the perfect opportunity to discuss what activities are options, and which ones you guys would definitely like to do. That way you can go over pricing, whether or not you want to book once in the country or beforehand, and how everyone is going to pay.
If at some point you realize you and your friends are going on this trip for different reasons, you may want to plan for alone time. Hell, you want to plan that regardless.
I’m sure if I were in Cuba for an additional four days, at some point I would’ve had a solo day. On my last day I actually took two tours that morning without them, so I guess that counts. I think this is important because exciting to me is just walking around a new city and getting lost. You’d be surprised at the number of able bodied humans that don’t even like to walk. I also like to do it in peace anyways, so it works out perfectly.
Scheduling alone time allows you to enjoy a place your way (Wanderlust, Your Way!) and just have time away from the group. I guarantee you’ll have an entirely different experience and possibly make some great memories for yourself. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have great memories in a group, but these memories will be yours alone. Is this the selfish part of me that wants MY OWN DAMN MEMORIES? At least go for breakfast by yourself one day, you won’t regret it.
The first time I suggested this to someone, they for some reason couldn’t wrap their brain around what I was saying as if it were rocket science. Ever since then I didn’t bother mentioning it again, but I do think it’s a great idea, and not just because it’s my own.
Transportation funds are a perfect tip for group travel. Say, in Cuba, my friends and I would’ve each put 25 CUC’s into a pool. We’d have 100 CUC’s all together. That’s 100 CUC’s for every time we ALL travel in taxi’s together (not for just 2 or 3 people). Instead of scraping together a CUC here and there or trying to split an 11 CUC taxi between four people, we could’ve simply paid with money from our 100 CUC pool and went on our merry way.
Again, I think this is a marvelous idea and perfect whether groups are catching taxi’s, the bus, or even the subway. Just have that one person use the money to buy X amount of tickets versus everybody waiting to purchase individually. You not only save time, but you avoid any potential disagreements. There’s always that one person who doesn’t reach into their pocket when it comes time to pay because they paid more the last time or something crazy. I’m the type to peep all things like that. Don’t have me have an attitude or feel like I’m spending more money than someone else. Save a life, start a transportation fund at the beginning of the trip. And once the trip is over, if funds are leftover, split it equally amongst the group.
If I could make sure you took anything away from this it would be to properly utilize a group chat (because I want to delete Apple on a daily basis…yes, delete Apple) or begin transportation funds. How do you navigate group travel? Do you avoid it completely? I want to hear all about it.