For people who regularly don't travel as part of a family group, there is an art to getting the most out of travelling with people whom you have just met for the first time. In any such group, you will quickly encounter some individuals whose personalities are much stronger than the others, and in many cases, there will be no reconciling the different wishes of the entire group. This could mean some dissatisfaction among the less forceful group members, as they feel they are being railroaded into doing things, with their opinion not being worthy of consideration.
Quite often, this will lead to the group fragmenting, and factions forming, which, when an itinerary has to be adhered to, is a recipe for all kinds of discontent.
So to avoid this situation blighting a holiday, and possible affecting the enjoyment of all concerned, the following steps are useful:
- Talk about what you want – While everyone is together, spend half an hour or a little longer discussing your hopes and objectives for the holiday, making sure that everyone makes a contribution. At least once everyone has chipped in, and hopefully their ideas have received a positive response, more of the group is likely to be kept happy for more of the time.
- Share what you know – On a group holiday, most people will have done some research and discovered a few things they think they would like to do or see. If everyone is encouraged to share their ideas, this expands the knowledge of the group as a whole, and so it can actually make planning an itinerary easier.
- Be sure of what your own priorities are – After all, you've spent a lot of money on this holiday, and you shouldn't be prepared to have your ideas completely discounted at the say-so of your travelling companions. If you've visited somewhere before, don't go with the herd – suggest something you regret not getting around to doing on your first visit. Don’t let the whole group assume that somebody else is doing something important, such as organizing the car hire.
- Speak up clearly, but also be sure to listen – People won't necessarily cover everything you want to do or see unless you mention it, but equally you should be prepared to discount some ideas if someone in the group has a strong reason for not wanting to go along with them – or find an alternative for them to do at the same time.
- Don't insist on the group sticking together – One of the main reasons people go on holiday is for the chance to do things at their own pace. If that doesn't match with the rest of the group, then arrange a meeting place later.
- Listen to people who have specific expertise – In any group of tourists, it's likely that someone will have already visited the places on the itinerary. If they have some constructive viewpoints on such matters are where the best views can be found, and where is best avoided, then these should be taken on board.
- Don't try to pack in too much – This is a big failing with many groups, as not everyone will go at the same pace as the fastest. And make allowance for coming across places and sights where people might want to linger a little longer than the itinerary allows for, however tempting it may be to keep moving.
- Be prepared to change the plan – This means having a few back-up ideas for things to do or see, and is especially useful so that you don't find yourself at a loose end when everyone has some time to do their own thing. Take the responsibility for ensuring that you enjoy your trip, and use this time wisely.
- Grab the benefits of travelling in a group – Some attractions will offer discounted entry for groups of a certain size, and even if these aren't taken care of in advance by your tour operator, it won't do any harm to ask when you get there.
- Use technology and websites to help your planning – There are numerous mobile apps and websites which give more up-to-date information than you're likely to have in the guidebooks you take with you.
By using the benefits of travelling together – such as having more knowledge to pool, being better able to make representations and complaints, and getting to know your fellow travellers – travelling as a group really can be made more fulfilling and productive for all.