Group travel is not for everyone. Not even if it’s touring spiritually minded folks whom you might think are easier to get along with. It might work for one trip, but not another. Or maybe it works with one group, but not another. It could be more about the destination. Or it could have more to do with where you are in your present journey. Whatever the case, it’s always good to evaluate the question, “Is group travel for me?” before you embark on your journey.
Here are some things to think about to help you decide.
Can You Share Space?
Traveling with a group means sharing physical, personal, and emotional space. Physical space refers to the dining areas, transportation space, and perhaps sleeping space. Personal space refers to the area around your body. Traveling with a group may mean that people are physically closer to you than you may prefer. Emotional space is pretty obvious. Spiritual travel can bring things out of you. If you aren’t willing to be seen, this can make you uncomfortable.
Tip – if you are an introvert, need a lot of down time, are not a morning person, have emotional or social challenges, snore, are a light sleeper, or are not a people person, but still want to do a group tour, you may want to get a single supplement. This will make traveling easier on you and the rest of the group.
Can You Say No?
If you are going to travel with a group, you have to be able to set healthy boundaries. You don’t have to do everything. You don’t have to like everyone. It’s okay to say no, but it’s up to you to exercise that right. If you aren’t able to say no, you may find yourself feeling resentful and tired. Even when your traveling companions are the sweetest people, they can wear you out. It’s up to you to know when enough is enough.
Do You Respect Group Time?
On a tour, there is your time and the group’s time. Your time is any time that isn’t set aside for group activities. This is when you get to kick your feet up, do what you want, go at your own pace, and take on the “It’s all about me” attitude.
Group time is basically traveling, tour, or activity time. During group time, you are expected to be on time and stay with the group. When you are late, it impacts the whole group. This could lead to missed connections (like for a train or site closures) or missed meals. When you wander from the group, people have to wait for you to move on. This means that the group is waiting instead of sight seeing, eating, socializing, or doing what they came to do. You won’t be very popular if you don’t have a sense of the difference between “me” time and “we” time.
Tip; Don’t make the group wait for you to get water, change money, pack, shop, or do what what you could have done during “me” time. Be where you are scheduled to be when you are scheduled to be there. If you leave the group, let someone know where you are. If you go out at night, take someone with you. Don’t take risks.
Are You Able to Take a Time Out When You Need To?
There is almost always time for you to do your own thing. Sometimes you have a whole free day. Or maybe it’s just a few hours in the evening. Some of us need more decompression time than others. If you go, go, go, you may crash. This won’t make it fun for you or others. Each group has early bird people and late night people. You can’t do everything. You have to pace yourself. If you are the type of person who gets revved up by others and doesn’t want to miss a thing, traveling with a group may wear you out. You may get home feeling like you need a vacation from your vacation.
Do You Prefer to Be an Experiencer Rather Than Organizer?
When you solo travel, you are responsible for planning the agenda, making all the reservations, showing up on time to make your connections (when you may not know where the connection is or how long it takes to get there), finding great places to eat, figuring out the significance of the sites (or hiring a guide), as well as just experiencing the whole thing. That can be a lot – especially for those who are not particularly organized. When you are on a spiritual journey, releasing all that leaves you with more time to just be.
Do You Want a Personal Experience or a Shared One?
I’ve done solo travel and group travel. There are advantages to both. I like both. Some trips lend themselves more to one or the other. With solo travel, I can move without an agenda and linger as long as I’d like wherever I like. It’s a deeply personal experience. With a group, I have someone I can reach out to who was there when the rainbow burst into the sky. I have someone who understands what it was like to see the Milky Way lit up overhead. That makes it somehow more real, more rich, more connected. Both are great. If you know which you’d prefer, you are more likely to get what you want to get out of it.
Do You Want to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone?
Traveling means you will have to get out of your comfort zone. People in other places don’t do things like they do at home. Group travel adds a whole new element to that because not only do you have to adapt to the outside world, you also have to adapt to other people’s schedules, personalities, and ways of being. You will meet people who would have never otherwise crossed your path. This could be seen as a huge pain or it can stretch you to grow. If you are not in the mood for stretching, take that into account. It’s not a big deal. Just something to think about.
Do You Have the Skill to Travel Alone?
Traveling takes skill. You will be negotiating your way through a strange place. Perhaps you don’t know the local language or customs. You may not be able to find your way around. There is the issue of finding reputable guides, transportation, hotels, or restaurants. You’ve got to change money. Are you a good barterer? What if someone takes advantage of you or you get sick? There are all kinds of things to think about. For some people, none of this is a big deal. For others it could mean the difference between taking that dream vacation and not.
How Are Your Interpersonal Skills?
Are you able to talk to other people? Do you feel comfortable in a crowd? Are you able to advocate for yourself if you need to? Can you ask for what you want? The better your interpersonal skills, the easier time you will have with being in a group. If speaking is stressful, you will start each day stressed out. That’s no way to have fun. On the other hand, being with a group is great practice for skill building.
Both solo and group travel are fantastic for building life experience. Some journeys are best taken alone. Others are better when shared. I hope this article helps you decide where you are now and what is the best choice for you. If you have other tips, please share!