On an organized group tour of Morocco
we began our first-night group introductions in a hotel bar in Casablanca, (coincidently drinking Casablanca beer) with the thirteen gay men who were listening to our two-week Moroccan itinerary. When you are travelling with a group, different travel styles emerged almost immediately: Planner Pete was furiously writing checklists and ranking by priority: Definitely, Maybe, If Possible, and Maybe When We Get to Marrakech. Tom the Tourist was listing off prominent landmarks and looking up prices for leather, pottery and tagines. Eddy (or Eeyore) the Traveler was bemoaning every idea as boring, too far away or likely to have long lines, and wondering aloud if they should just stay at the Riad and read. Laissez-Faire Larry was sitting on the couch flipping through the itinerary, saying every so often, “You guys are crazy; just pick one thing and then figure it out after you get to the medina.” Steve the Shopper had but one idea: go to the souks and SHOP!
Travelling with a group
We have all been on them; group tours of some exotic land that sounded dreamy and ideal six months ago when we booked it. You know them: fellow explorers sharing similar interests in the history, culture, food, and people of a new land. But day 3 arrives, and you are ready to rip someone’s head off. We offer, oh intrepid, person travelling with a group, some do’s and don’ts when travelling with a group of people you have never met before.
to the conversations that are going on around you and in particular, the morning and evening itinerary overviews of your guide. You’re only going to anger your fellow travellers if you keep asking the same question about when the next available laundry is, when breakfast is served, is lunch included here or how good the Wi-Fi is here.
When travelling with a group and telling a clever travel anecdote, don’t run on with unnecessary details and hyperbole where you will lose your audience. And as per number 1: LISTEN.
at your other group travellers, “Get out of my (perfect) picture!” Remember, you are shooting digital, not film. You may find a perfect picture if you wait for 30 seconds for the scene to change or the crowd to move on. Deal with it.
for a vista view, photo op, or a walk through the shopping stalls, don’t wander off or away for that perfect shot or buy that rug that nobody else has so that your driver or guide has to go looking for you. Remember you are travelling with a group, supposedly on a schedule and your fellow travelers may already be fed up with your wanderings and delays.
Wear your Patience Pants.
Every day. All the time. Trust me; they have come in handy for me so many times. In fact, I buy a new pair every trip.
If buying wine
as a group, don’t over pour your glass, several times during your multi-day tour. You won’t gain any friends and those you do gain will only think you’re a lush. The same goes for sparkling water for the table. Share the love. And water.
Rotate your seat
on the tour bus. Get to know your fellow travellers and what they have to contribute to your experience. And don’t forget your Patience Pants. And to shower before boarding the bus. There is also no rule that says a group that starts the day together must finish the day together. Break ranks occasionally and TALK with your fellow travellers. If you are travelling as a couple, don’t forget the single supplements as well. They are people, too.
If you are an expert in your field, say a wine, food or travel blogger, don’t laud your expertise over the heads of your fellow travellers. Leave your ego, your Instagram and Twitter followers (and the constant updating and instant gratification) for later. You are only going to miss that lovely vista or a personal connection that may help you in your blogging business someday.
Go off the grid
for extended periods of time during your extended tour. (See above) It isn’t necessary to constantly be connected nor is it appropriate to be always complaining about the lack of Wi-Fi.
Let it go.
As Elsa sings in Frozen, ‘the cold never bothered her anyway’. Grin and bear it. Don’t hold grudges or seek revenge. Remember, your fellow travelers are probably feeling as frustrated with you and every one of your quirks and foibles. And honestly, you probably won’t see 90% of these people again.
Travelling in a group means letting people play to their strengths.
As you head out on your epic odyssey, it will become clear who has the best sense of direction, who can read maps fast and well, who is happiest asking questions and directions of strangers, who can speak the local language best, who excels at handling money, and so on. Let those people do those jobs with which they are most happy and at which they are most competent. This way the workload gets spread around, everyone feels useful and valued, and things get done. If someone falls into one of these roles, encourage and thank them for it; it can be a difficult and thankless job bargaining in a souk or figuring out the restaurant bill portions with those over-poured glasses of wine for an unappreciative group of travellers. But what if you encounter a “control freak” who wants to do everything and make every decision? We have found that larger numbers can tend to lessen the ultimate impact of these folks.
With emails exchanged over the requisite final group dinner, we say goodbye to all the incredibly exciting travel types we have met on our Moroccan tour for a little Luxe for our last three days in Marrakech. If you followsummer as we do, we’re always grateful for these ‘group’ moments.
#travelwell in a group, my friends!