Will you be traveling alone, as a couple or group?
I’ve traveled quite a bit alone and just make friends wherever I end up but this isn’t for everyone. If you can’t function alone back home, I definitely wouldn’t recommend traveling by yourself.
But, when you’re traveling single you have more autonomy to go and do as you please without altering the plans of others or being at their mercy as well. I personally like to come and go as I please and not be fixed to any schedule or at least someone else’s. Maybe I’ll sleep in or be on my way to some destination and decide I need to make a detour. You simply can’t get away with that behavior as a general rule when you’re traveling with a group or as a couple.
You can also travel alone but still go as a group with the understanding that everyone is free to do as they please along the way. I’ve done this several times, where everyone will indicate what their plans are each day or on some interval and the others can choose to participate or not. This is actually a decent method of traveling as you can have people you know with you but not be encumbered with the potential pitfalls of group dynamics.
Another thing I’ve found is that when I’m traveling alone, it’s easier to meet people. Groups can be threatening or at least a bit intimidating for others if you approach them. I suppose it depends on the venue but I’ve had great success being the lone man in a place as I get the chance to meet people from the country I’m visiting and it generally is quite fun. As an individual I’m more approachable, I can move about more freely and it is easier to find a place in restaurants and bars.
This isn’t always the case, I’m just speaking from my experience alone. I have had great times with small groups I happen to be traveling with though, so I don’t want to discount that.
I’ve had great fun for example riding on a river taxi in Bangkok, Thailand when the boat is filled with people and I’ll just ask the person standing next to me a question, which begins the conversation. Some cultures are quite conservative and require a bit of work to approach them and start a conversation so being alone, I’ve found helps that along.
Real life: When I was in Pattaya, Thailand I met someone outside of a grocery store as I was asking directions. Well we started talking and the next thing I know I had a free tour guide and buddy for the couple days I was wandering around the place.
In case I’ve not mentioned it, Thailand is among my favorite places as I’ve found the people friendly, accommodating and the country is beautiful. Oh, and the prices are great as well.
Now a tour group is a different animal. The agenda is published and there is a schedule that must be adhered to as this is the process. You signed up for it for a reason so stick with it. If you’re uncomfortable traveling alone this is actually a good option for several reasons. The unknowns are mostly eliminated which is probably obvious. All you basically have to do is follow along. I have bumped into these groups many times, variations of them anyhow. When I was in Thailand they were seemingly omnipresent around the major religious sites. Generally, there was a guide with some sort of a flag out front guiding the groups in the correct direction. From what I could tell, the person with the flag was also dispensing information regarding the site. It seemed to work well and the people dutifully followed along, like the pied piper. Another good thing is you can probably have all entrance fees, hotel costs, transportation and even a some or all of the food prepaid. This is a good thing or those of you who posses minimal planning skills.
Real life: A friend was traveling to Florida a while back and one of the individuals in group he was with proceeded to have an amazing time immediately upon arriving. What happened in short order is not surprising after the fact. The individual ran completely out of funds within approximately a day and was at the mercy of the others for the next six as well as during the trip home.
If you’re that person, an all expense trip is the ticket for you.
If you’re just with a group of let’s say … friends, you’ll quickly find everyone has their own agenda and it will probably change once you’re at your destination. Your lofty aspirations of moving about in a strange country with a group of friends can descend into chaos in short order. Once on the ground, people discover things they were unaware of, others find suddenly they just want to relax, and without fail if there are closet partiers, they’ll emerge.
And, undoubtedly you won’t know who you’re really traveling with until you arrive and the pressure mounts from all the decisions that have to be made.
Oh, here is something critical and you absolutely have to consider and that is a room mate. If you want to get to know someone in excruciating detail, room with them on vacation. Didn’t know they snore loud enough to wake up the dead? You will. Wonder who likes to watch television at 3 am with the volume up? How about the guy who drains the hot water tank and takes one hour showers? Know a primper or someone who tries on several outfits before leaving? Ge the picture?
I’ve traveled with a group out of necessity on a few occasions and I normally pay a bit more for my own room and if possible I only use the group for transportation to and from a point. I will look at the schedule and pick my events if possible or just wing it if I can but I definitely room alone. Even trusted friends, people you’ve known for years can reveal a side of themselves you never knew existed on vacation.
My point is, if you’re traveling with a group, think long and hard about the traveling, sleeping and sight seeing arrangements.