So, you’ve taken the leap – you’ve decided to give group travel a go. But what should you expect? How can you prepare? What will it be like travelling with a total bunch of strangers? Give me 10 minutes and I will explain all…
My name is Gav and I’ve experienced my fair share of solo travelling, in groups and on my own, as you may have already read about elsewhere on this site.
In this piece, I’ll be giving you three tips from my experience that’ll get you ready for your first group travel adventure.
First, let’s get one thing straight:
You’re already further than a lot of people get when they think about solo travel, either with a group (like those on Flash Pack trips) or on their own.
Either way, you’re already nailing it. I like you, let’s be friends.
The first time I ever went on a group holiday, I was two weeks away from flying out and absolutely bricking it. As confident as I am in my own skin, there was still so much weighing on my mind that I genuinely almost didn’t go.
If it wasn’t for the fact that I thought my mother would give me a clip around the ear for wasting money on a holiday that I didn’t even go on, I think I would’ve bailed.
But I didn’t: I went and I had an incredible time, obviously, because that’s what happens pretty much the majority of the time.
With two weeks out, though, and the aforementioned bricking it taking place, I decided to be a little proactive and took a few steps to help myself out. And it’s these steps I recommend that you do too.
If you’re finding yourself in a bit of an existential pickle about heading out on a group travel holiday on your own, here are three practical things you can do to make going on a group adventure feel way, WAY easier.
Learn your itinerary
I know this probably goes without saying but you should know this inside out, upside down, back to front and any other cliche there is for knowing something really well (back of your hand?).
There’s a bunch of good reasons for this, particularly if you’re doing an awesome group travel experience. There will be people on that trip who don’t know the itinerary as well as you and being the group’s fountain of knowledge is a great ice breaker. It’s a quick, fast way to forge friendships early on through interesting small talk.
The other and more useful reason is that you’ll be prepared for activities completely new to you.
I didn’t know what the hell a ‘rash vest’ was before heading out on my first solo adventure but I’m glad I looked it up before I left and you would have been too, trust me.
So have a good look through your itinerary and, if there’s anything you haven’t done before, see if you can do a little taster class on home soil. You’ll feel much more confident and excited for the trip once you find out exactly what, as in my case, a rash vest is used for.
Which brings me nicely onto…
Do something you think you’d hate
I completely understand this doesn’t sound like fun at all and that’s kinda the point.
When I went on my last group travel adventure, there were things in the itinerary I’d never have thought about doing before. They were things that sounded hard – i.e. didn’t involve drinking blue-coloured cocktails by a beach, pool or cabana.
Do you know what though?
That was absolutely fine because it turned out that the people putting together the itinerary knew more about doing fun things than I did.
You’ll find yourself doing arranged activities that maybe you don’t fancy whilst on a group holiday but I promise you that, by the end of it, you’ll have gotten something great out of it. The trick is to be completely open to trying new things, especially if they push you out of your comfort zone.
Hate the idea of sushi? Get yourself down to an all-you-can-eat buffet!
Can’t stand rollercoasters? Go to a theme park and ride the biggest loop the loop until you’re sick.
Don’t like getting scared? Switch the lights off and sit through that Hereditary film everyone is banging on about.
It’s all about pushing yourself to do something you’d usually avoid because, no matter what happens, you’ll come out the other end having learned something.
That something might be that you were right about sushi all along (you’re not). Hopefully, you’ll learn that trying something you might usually swerve gives you a proper feeling of accomplishment. It gives you a desire to try more new stuff – which is only ever good.
Get yourself into this mindset early – try something new today, book a class you’d usually hate tomorrow. Go into group travel with an open mind.
Do something with a group of strangers
This doesn’t necessarily have to be a sport or exercise-based thing. You could join a book club, take a tour of your local area or even find a public gathering of board games people and literally beat them at their own game.
The idea here is chucking yourself in with people you don’t know and just hanging out with strangers.
You’ll be doing a lot of that if you’re trying group travel for the first time, so it’s a great idea to get to know how you react in social situations with people you don’t know and, more importantly, who don’t know you.
I’m not saying you should get all James Bond about it but you could also try approaching situations in social groups differently to how you usually would.
Personally, I’m a big ol’ loudmouth who tries to take control and be the team leader (for better or worse). So when I was heading out to try new things with new groups of people, I tried to sit back and listen a lot more than I usually would.
Sometimes it worked and other times it absolutely didn’t. But I had a much better understanding of the different ways I approach hanging out with strangers and how I adapt to these situations.
And there are your three pointers.
I said this at the top of this piece but I want to hammer it home again – if you’ve booked a group adventure, you’re already further than a lot of people EVER get. And that’s awesome, go you.
All those weird doubts and trepidations you might have about your trip are absolutely natural. Just remember that getting over all the feelings that might stop you trying out group travel could be a full-on battle for some people. So give yourself a pat on the back and start looking up what the hell a ‘rash vest’ is.
Have fun and let me know how it goes here or @cymrogav on Instagram or Twitter.
Not booked your trip yet? Try group travel on these incredible adventures:
Into the unknown of Iceland
Explore the Langjökull glacier by snowmobile safari and bathe in the geothermal, healing waters of the Blue Lagoon. Go hiking through ridges and crevasses on the Sólheimajökull glacier and, of course, attempt to catch the magical Northern Lights in a family-run lodge with zero light pollution.
An alfresco adventure in Argentina
Trek through jaw-dropping Patagonian scenery and reach an epic viewpoint looking over the magnificent Perito Moreno Glacier, before hiking across one of the world’s last growing glaciers too. Go vineyard-hopping through world-renowned wineries in Mendoza, devour mouth-watering steak in an Argentinian cooking class with unlimited wine and ride on horseback through the Andean foothills.
A sensory journey to Japan
Take a trip through the world’s largest fish market, then make your own sushi in a masterclass. Hike the spectacular Hakone trail and bathe in hot springs, catching a glimpse of Mount Fuji on the way. Sea kayak around the Great Torii on Miyajima Island, enjoying oysters and Chablis afterwards – and, of course, soak up all the colourful chaos of Japan’s incredible Tokyo and as well as the beauty of serene Kyoto.
Pictures: Flash Pack/Shutterstock