Hoping to survive on an upcoming trip with a group? Check out these easy tips and hopefully you'll enjoy your adventure!
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We've all been there. Traveling with others is hard, even if you're in a fabulous place and love the people you're traveling with. Whether it's a family reunion in the August heat, a bachelorette party in an Air BNB you had no role in selecting, or an awkward work conference that includes flying halfway across the country with talkative Bob and Cheryl from Accounting, travel is hard enough when it doesn't involve people you aren't used to sharing close quarters with.
I used to dread travel that wasn't with specific, defined groups of people. But, I'll admit I'm getting better with experience! While there are certain bits that I'm convinced will always be bad (i.e. selection of a restaurant last minute by 10 hungry travelers), here are a few tips that I've developed over the years to try to make group travel more enjoyable for myself!
Go with the flow
Let's get the basics out in the open, before we move on.
In the long run, you will have a better time if you "go with the flow" on the little stuff and pick your battles. Unless there is absolutely nothing you can eat at a restaurant, just go there and be nice. Don't engage in power struggles. As much as you can, resist the urge to fall into old habits with your parents/evil older sister.
Easier said than done, right? If you could easily achieve all of the above, then you probably wouldn't be reading this lovely article. Of course, going with the flow is easier to do when you aren't at the end of your tether. So, with that in mind, a few ideas to help you keep your sanity.
Be polite, but be honest about needing some time and space for yourself. Well, as honest as you can be. "Dear Boss, I'm definitely skipping that horrendous team-building exercise," might not be the best approach, but before and during the event, when you can just be honest. Tell the truth - you're tired. Or maybe you aren't feeling well (wink, wink!). Or you want to go to some obscure museum that no one else cares about. Just tell the truth - "I'm really looking forward to dinner this evening. I'm going to skip out for a bit to visit that museum I've been reading up about. See you all at 7." Depending on your level of travel burn-out by this point, offering "anyone is welcome to join me," is up to you. Just know: someone will come. And it will be one of the people you're trying to get a quick breather from.
Take time for yourself
This is 100% the top tip I can offer - and, of course, it's the hardest to achieve and sometimes it's even actively thwarted by the other members of the group. Part of what's hard about a group trip is that it's often heavily scheduled by "that one bridesmaid," and sometimes there's pressure to attend "everything." The reality is, you don't need to go to every meal, coffee, scavenger hunt, happy hour, sunset stroll, etc., and, if the group is large enough, you may be able to escape fairly unnoticed. And if the group is smaller and your absence is noticed, it's all about the way you handle not attending.
Actually having time for yourself often involves some logistically considerations. If you are able to have your own living accommodations, do so. Again, sometimes this isn't possible, for example if you're sharing rooms in a communal house, for example in an Air BNB, but if there is flexibility in the planning and you can get a hotel room to yourself (of course you may have to take on extra cost), definitely do it. For work, this isn't usually as much of a problem, it's generally families that try to plop everyone into the smallest number of rooms like it's 1985 all over again.
If you can have your own car, this can be extremely helpful, so that you aren't at the mercy of others for transportation. If you drive to an event and want to leave early, you aren't trapped. If having your own car isn't an option, you could take an Uber, depending on where you are staying.
Take a walk
One of the best ways to keep stress down during group travel is to just take a quick walk. Free, easy, and no one can dispute your "right" to do so - the perfect way to get that time to yourself is to just go for a quick walk around the block, hotel, resort, hill, field, a hot parking lot - anything. I'll share a secret now - if there isn't anywhere to walk, or walking isn't practical, unnecessary errands can buy you some freedom. No one is going to want to accompany you to CVS - and the best part is, once you're out and about, you don't even have to go to CVS. Though, depending on how eagle-eyed that Maid of Honor is, you may want to return with a CVS bag.
Don't take on too much
Avoid "signing up" for too much in advance, when the *option* to sign-up is given. Unfortunately, the option is rarely given, but when it is, seize the day! A great time to do this is when multiple events are offered for one period of time - see if you can just take that time for yourself. You will probably want to do many of the events, and some of them will be, unwritten, but mandatory. A wine tasting tour of Napa for a bachelorette party is sort of mandatory unless you can't/won't/don't drink, as it's the main event of the trip. That said, the third hike of the week on a family trip to the Smokey Mountains might be skip-able. If you can avoid committing up front, you'll probably thank yourself later.
If events are going to be arranged (hikes, day trips, etc.) and you won't be attending one or more of them, make some separate plans in advance, so that you aren't digging for an escape. It'll depend on the nature of the group whether you share those plans with the group in advance or just go about them when the time comes.
What to do when there are no plans
That said, what if you show up at the event, only to realize that the organizers have made *no* plans? This is rare, but it does happen occasionally. That's where a bit of advance planning will come in. Do at least some research before you go, so that you can step into the void and provide things for the group to do. The benefit, as well, will be that you'll now be surprised with actually doing events you enjoy!
Remember: this isn't the only vacation you'll ever take
Of course, vacations are meant to be fun. But traveling with a larger group is different. Pressure to have fun is one of the top killers of vacation enjoyment. There will be other vacations. But you want to enjoy the one you are currently on, as much as reasonably possible. Also, having time to yourself will hopefully prevent you from making a fool of yourself by getting upset at an event because you're stressed and over-tired. If it's a bachelorette party, you want the bride to still want you in her wedding when this is over. If it's a family reunion, you want to look back fondly on the time you spent with relatives who you rarely see.
Remember that the goal of the event is to come away from it having the best experience *possible,* not the best experience *ever.*
Pin these tips to read secretly on your trip!
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