Traveling With A Group ~ Pack Your Teamwork

teamwork.jpgWe’ve taken maybe 9 or 10 group tours now – a few to Asia, some to Europe, a fourth coming up to Africa, Cuba over the holidays and just this month, Machu Picchu and the Galapagos. It’s curious how many friends tell me they “aren’t ready” to travel with a group (smacks of AARP-ish-ness to them). Heck, Larry and I LOVE it…

Larry and I both work from home offices; we see each other P-L-E-N-T-Y.  Sure, togetherness on a trip is the goal. But having other folks along contributes to our experience. We’ve had great group members, as well as clunkers (my opinion – everyone experiences it differently). We’re hopefully evolving into fellow travelers that people enjoy. And I admit to being annoying when I hit the exhaustion wall. I get a ‘tude. But I work hard to abide by cardinal rules: no weenies, no whiners, no princesses.

If you’re no longer a 20-something hippie who can live off croissants, will accept whatever sleeping arrangements show up and only pack two shirts, then maybe a group is for you, too.

Warning: I make sweeping generalizations based totally on my personal opinion. The first is… having taken cheap tours and expensive ones, expensive is better.rocky stairs

  1. Small group, better experience.  Overseas Adventure Travel promises no more than 16 people – this recent trip to Peru and Ecuador had 14 great people. Fewer folks are easier to wrangle but if you don’t like someone, it can test you. MY downfall: I allow myself to be annoyed. I’m working on my “water rolling off a duck” attitude but Larry has a thousand stories about my ‘tude.
  2. Group tours have guides. Someone meets you at the airport, gets you through the hassles. Has your room booked and your luggage there. Itinerary lined up. Boarding passes for the next flight. With a guide, my stress is GREATLY reduced. Showing up in India without a group? I can endure dust, cold, sweat, scary food, animals, bugs, but I really appreciate someone moving me from Point A to Point Z.
  3. More expensive trip, better guide. I want my organization to pay top dollar for its guides; they make or break the experience. Their English is better (Vietnam and Cambodia was a “private tour” with personal guides. Sounded really special, and the guides were very sweet and accommodating but we STRUGGLED to understand, it was exhausting). Better tour companies get the best guides; they’ve been doing this longer. They know more things {“What kind of tree is that?”  “What is that building on the hill?”  “What bird did I hear early this morning?”} They know what travelers need because we probably need the same stuff each tour {ATM, bathroom, pharmacy, camera supplies, gluten-free dining option}.  The guide creates the team – they teach us to count heads. We think about each other, not just ourselves, and share battery chargers, hats, sunscreen, binoculars, jackets, chocolate, Band-Aids. IMG_5547
  4. Punctuality is a main ingredient in teamwork. I think this one thing turns people off to group travel – the idea that someone is telling you when and where. OK… someone other than LARRY telling me what to do?? I NEED THAT. But that also means that MY punctuality matters. Sure, everyone is guilty on occasion. Me… usually a bathroom is involved. But if YOU are the person – or couple – consistently last to show up, we stop caring about you. (OAT friends, you ROCK. Eastern Europe group… a lot of guilty).
  5. A group comes with varied ages, sizes, degrees of capability.  You have to accept that and be flexible, too. When people are hurt, sick or unable to do something, if they have team spirit, they wisely stay behind. The rest, keep up. I’m no athlete, so I never set the pace for anything; people who are the fastest and strongest keep me motivated. Wherever you fit in the big picture, you are welcome in a group. Just be awesome, if not physically then at least attitude-wise.

My goal for any of my blog posts is to deliver something of value. This post, my take-away is to encourage you to consider traveling with a group if you’ve never done it before. It can take you in directions you may never do on your own, including if you’re ready to travel “solo.”  OAT doesn’t charge a single supplement, which is a wise marketing move.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mary Callahan Low July 21, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Hi Patty,
Ken forwarded this to me. What a fun website! It is the first time I have seen it.
I loved reading your stuff and I agree with your opinions! I like traveling with a group too. Most times it is also good value for what you can do on the open market. I have also been on tours with private guides from expensive hotels the guides don’t always speak the best English.
We will have to give the Hampton Inns a try in the future.

2 Worth The Whisk June 5, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Cathy, our hike up to Intipunku Sun Gate was pretty damn rough, especially the next day. Pisco Sours helped.

3 Cathy @ She Paused 4 Thought June 5, 2012 at 8:10 pm

I also took the OATS tour in South America. Our guide was fabulous. I have taken many tours with OATS and highly recommend them as well. I have met so many wonderful people that I still keep in contact with. Did you happen to hike up to Wayna Picchu? I had to drink many Pisco Sours to recover from that 3 hour hike!

4 Hugh Garnett May 31, 2012 at 3:52 pm

You hit all the right nails squarely on the head. OAT deserves much of the credit as do the fourteen members of the group, and especially the two guides OAT provided us. It will be difficult to ever again do a trip as near perfect as this one.

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