First Time on a Group Tour? Here's Your Guide to Having the Best Time

Group travel has the advantage of forging new and lasting friendships
Group travel has the advantage of forging new and lasting friendships | © Jacob Lund / Alamy
Photo of Callum Davies
3 September 2021

If this is your first time travelling with a group, then you’re bound to be apprehensive, and no doubt have a load of questions. We’ve put together a bunch of handy tips to help answer them – and ensure that you have a truly memorable adventure.

When you travel with friends or family, you know their quirky habits – from hogging the bathroom to snoring on every flight. But being bunched together with strangers on a group trip – that’s something else entirely. It can be a nerve-wracking prospect, even for the most seasoned traveller. What if you don’t click with anyone? Approach it in the right way, though, and it can be even more rewarding than travelling alone.

Go with an open mind

If you’re shy, the idea of going on holiday with a group of strangers might seem daunting, especially in the wake of the pandemic. But the one thing we guarantee you’ll share with your fellow adventurers is a love of travel, and you never know what other interests you might have in common. Go into the experience with an open mind and an appetite for new experiences – and you’ll probably even surprise yourself.

© Antonio Guillem Fernández / Alamy

Listen to other people’s stories

Group tours are packed with people from different countries and backgrounds, each with their own wealth of travel experiences. Listen to what they have to say – people love it when you properly engage with them, plus it’s a great way to break the ice. You’ll no doubt glean ideas for your next trip – perhaps from a seasoned backpacker with tips for trekking adventures, or a keen foodie who knows where to find the best local meals without overspending. All it takes is the confidence to strike up a conversation.

Give back to the local community

While travelling, one of the best ways to give back to a local community is by spending your money there. Hungry? Buy a snack from a local stall. Looking for souvenirs? Head to a local market and stock up on handmade items. That way you know the money is going straight back into the pockets of locals. Alternatively, do your research and find a local NGO that is doing work to support agriculture, tourism and other on-the-ground infrastructures which directly benefit the local community. Donations are always appreciated, but be wary of giving gifts or money to beggars, children and people you have just met.

© Jake Lyell / CARE / Alamy

Pack something you can share

One of the smoothest ways to ease yourself into a new social circle is over food and drink. Why not pack something that your home country or area is famous for? Alcohol, cake and unusual snacks are all proven winners and can easily be shared around. It’s a great way to kickstart a conversation.

Learn about where you’re going in advance

While expert guides are on hand to inform you, it’s always worth researching a country before you head there. Learn some local phrases and use them – even just a “Hello” and “Thank you” go a long way to win over locals. Brush up your knowledge of cultural dos and don’ts, too. Not only will it ease travel nerves, it’ll also help you interact comfortably with locals on the trip.

Take a game with you

Items such as books and headphones are great for solo travel, but in a group environment, the more sociable you are, the better. A Bluetooth speaker, a deck of cards, a frisbee, or even a drinking game can be a great travel accessory when you’re travelling with a group. It’ll help fill those gaps between activities and bring everyone closer together.

© Igor Mojzes / Alamy

Encourage others to try new things

New experiences are best enjoyed with others, but sometimes a little encouragement and group camaraderie is needed. You might have a plate of fried crickets in front of you, or be staring over the precipice of a 30ft (9m) cliff dive. Both are unsettling for different reasons, of course, but the experience will feel all the more special if you approach it with a can-do group mentality.

© Zoonar GmbH / Alamy

Snap photos of everyone

You can never take too many pictures. Solo travel photos are great, but they often lack a human element, whereas you can come home from a group trip with a mixture of sunsets, wildlife encounters and people falling about laughing around a campfire in your album. Make sure everyone is OK with it before you start, then get busy – candid shots are often the best.

© Sarayuth Punnasuriyaporn / Alamy

Share your details and keep in touch

The group tour may end, but the relationships you’ve forged don’t have to. Share your contact details around during or at the end of the trip, whether it’s a phone number, an Instagram handle or an email address. You never know when you might run into your new friends again. This way, you’ll always have a connection – one that could even pave the way for future adventures together.

Ready for your next great group getaway? Check out TRIPS by Culture Trip, our collection of small-group trips curated by experts and led by Local Insiders.

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