IAMAT |International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers| IAMAT |International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers|
Photo By: Thommen Jose

How to travel well in a group

Organized group travel is a popular way to explore the world. It can offer an opportunity to meet new people, travel with friends and family, and relieve you of some aspects of trip planning. However, group travel isn’t without its challenges; rigorous schedules, little alone time, and the possibility of negative group dynamics can make for a taxing experience.

Group travel: The pros and cons

Travelling in a group has become an increasingly desirable way of seeing the world for many types of travellers – students, young professionals, families, and older adults alike. It can be a great way to meet people or explore new places with family and old friends.

Travelling with others, however, requires some coordination and compromise when it comes to deciding what to do and where to go. Conflicts may arise or you may need to deal with difficult personalities in your group. As such, it can be important to carve out time for yourself. Don’t feel you need to participate in every activity – feel free to make your own plans and make sure to communicate them to your group leader or fellow group members so they know you are safe.

During group tours it can also be easy to mentally check-out and move through the trip on autopilot, especially when someone else is in charge. But it’s important to stay aware, take stock of your surroundings, and ask questions if you are unsure. For example, try to pay attention to your travel routes and the names of hotels and key sites so that you can make your way around in case you get separated from your group.

Tips for travelling in a group

  • Research the reputation and accreditation of the tour company. Find out if it has an up-to-date operating license and is affiliated with professional associations such as the country’s tourism board.
  • Tours can operate on tight schedules and feature intense itineraries. Consider whether the pace is right for you.
  • Make sure that you are comfortable with the number of people in the group.
  • Ask about the tour’s accommodation guidelines and policies. If you are a solo traveller you may be required to share accommodation or pay a single supplement.
  • Consistently assess your own needs and change your plans as needed to avoid mental and/or physical exhaustion.
  • If you are participating in multiple days of group travel, do not feel pressured to keep pace with others or participate in every activity. Consider taking a day or half-day off the schedule if needed. Inform your group leader or another group member about your plans and take the day to relax. If you leave alone, always make sure someone knows where you are going.
  • Think for yourself. Although it might seem obvious, it’s easy to follow others in a group setting. Stay alert, use common sense, ask questions if you are unsure, and trust your judgement.
  • Make sure to tell others in the group about your allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • If you have an accessibility requirement, alert your group travel company when you make the booking. Some companies may need advance notice to arrange transportation or prepare specific materials such as guides or itineraries in Braille.

Last reviewed and updated: December 11, 2020.

Travel Health Journal