Ring… My phone buzzed. I reluctantly stretched my hands to reach for it on my bedside table, while muttering the question that would be on everyone’s lip at any point when one’s sleep is interrupted with a call, “Who must be disturbing my sleep?” I took the call immediately I saw the name on the display was Gloria, my girlfriend.
On picking the call, the first thing I heard was, “Babe, let’s do Dubai this summer.” Without waiting for a response, she continued, “I know you will be game. Speak to Rita to know if she is interested, while I speak with Jumoke.”
I wondered, “Who wakes up in the early hours of the morning (12:16 AM) to plan a group trip without any previous conversation around it?” It could only be the spontaneous Gloria. Though my friends know me to be a night owl, and would very likely be available to take calls at such hours, that day was different because I went to sleep a few minutes before midnight.
“Babe, you are not talking,” Gloria jostled me from my lull state. “Dubai this summer, can we have this conversation later today, G?” I asked. “Okay, later then,” she responded.
You will agree that from “Girls Trip” to the “Sex and The City,” girlfriends on a vacation storyline is not only a reoccurring one in pop culture, but happening in real life. However, I am not talking about only girl’s trip in this article, but any group trip that involves more than one person. Because as much as on the surface these group adventures look simple to achieve, like get a group of friends together, book the flight, hotel, and good times will ensue, on the contrary, much is required to have a hassle-free summer holiday with your group.
Waking up that morning and ruminating on Gloria’s proposed group summer vacation, I remembered what happened at Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris, when I visited France in April. While seating in a coffee lounge waiting to connect with a friend before catching a train to Brussels that very morning, a group of three ladies walked in to meet another two who were already seated directly opposite me. You could see that two out of the three women that walked in were furious.
I remembered one of the ladies said, “This is the last group trip I will embark on with her. Nobody should invite me on a group trip if Mehek is part of it, because I don’t see any reason why she keeps adding strangers to our group trip without informing anyone. She did this when we visited Thailand last year, and I am sure you remember how that trip ended up being a sad one, because no day passed by without us arguing and quitting the day’s plan in the middle, all because of her.”
Now, for anyone who has traveled in a group, you know that traveling with the wrong group or partner can truly make or mar the fun of the trip. Before you sit down and spend money, I would advise you do more to prevent your travel plans from turning into a dumpster fire by taking into consideration these actionable points and strategies.
Organize a trip-planning meeting
Planning and organising are two key functions one needs to get things done. Effective planning allows you to achieve important goals or tasks and get the results you need. When you decide to go on a friend trip, the first and foremost thing you have to do is to organize a meeting to go over all the ideas and expectations. This helps the group to be on the same page, to avoid turning the trip into a disaster, even before it gets off the ground. With this trip planning meeting, you avoid having one person take over in terms of planning where you stay and the activities to engage in, because one friend making all the decisions can lead to resentment and disappointment.
Let me also bring to your notice that it is at this meeting that each member of the group trip presents their ideas and expectations for the trip. This is the stage you find out what everyone wants at the nick of time, rather than finding out while on the trip, thus leading to conflict.
While discussing your trip, ensure you delegate actionable tasks you’d like to meet up with, and decide who should tackle what among the members of the group.
Have a budget & plan within your means
A financial expert like Tosin Olasehinde of Money Africa will tell you it’s important to save and create a budget, hence its importance cannot be overemphasised. Misaligned expectations on finances can lead to some tense moments on a trip. What creates the most havoc is not discussing it at all, which ends up appearing as a source of disagreement when you’re already on your trip.
To evade conflict, and avoid facing ruined friendships, map out how much money you are willing to spend. For flight, accommodations, meals, and sightseeing. Make sure that everybody is open, honest, and comfortable with the total cost as you hash out everyone’s budgets. For illustration, if one friend wants the team to fly British Airways, and another can only afford Emirate Airline, you should endeavor to resolve this before embarking on the trip, because oftentimes, some friends might get smashed with the airline tickets or even accommodation bill.
Another thing to figure out under budget is how you will split rental of cars, meals, hotels, clubbing, sight-seeing packages, and much more.
During my last trip to Europe, I discussed my Paris to Brussels budget with two of my friends.It was the route that tied it as a group trip, considering I was not traveling to Belgium alone. While discussing the budget, I found out that one of my friends was low on cash and could not afford the hotel two of us proposed. We found a way around it and avoided the drama that would have come with it if we were not already on the same page. When everyone agrees to a budget ahead of time, has seen the discrepancies and is willing to compromise and work out a plan from there, you’ll meet fewer surprises from a financial standpoint.
Say no to easy-going styles & don’t be too uptight with sightseeing
Acknowledge that you do not get to define other people’s comfort level with you. While exploring a destination with your group of friends, there’s always this friend who has every opinion, one who has no opinion, and some who are just in the middle. In as much as you can’t always control how your friends might behave while traveling, however, you can control yourself. Avoid being that person who has no opinion on things to do. Some friends will see it as worrisome, because they will feel as though they have to make all the decisions for you, hence worry will set in if you are not happy with the plan.
Be a considerate travel partner & handle the stress carefully
Traveling with friends can put you outside your comfort zone and push you to compromise when needed. Find that careful balance of not being too laid-back or too intolerant. Most of us, at some point in life, have lived with a stranger, and there were things we sacrificed when other people were in the picture. Group travel is another place you have to make a compromise and be considerate. For the companionship of your friends, you have to learn to forgo the freedom to do exactly as you please. For instance, if you agreed to a low-budget trip, do not rub it on their face even if you have the resources because you have earlier agreed. Stick to the agreed plan and enjoy your holiday.
Also, when one of your travel partners brings to your notice a particular thing that you are doing, wear their glasses and try to see things from their perspective before attacking them. Travel is difficult. It’s not always perfect, and everyone handles that stress differently. Understanding this is key to coping with whatever gets thrown at you.
Endeavour you know at least one person in the group
In the case of embarking on a group trip organised by travel agencies such as Social Prefect Tours, endeavour to go on that trip with at least one person you know to the core. If at any time a heated situation stares in your face, you will have at least one person to try and wade through the insanity with. He or she might help talk you out when you begin to overreact over an issue during the trip, and if by any chance you cannot stand the trip, don’t be afraid to split up from the main group with your partner for a while, and do the stuff you both want to do away from the drama.
Be expressive/open up
So you’re on the trip and things start to go wrong. You begin to feel sick or someone said something hurtful. Or someone wants to spend an uncomfortable amount of money on an expensive meal. It could be things more than this, but no matter what it is, the only way to resolve things is to talk about it. But in a respectful way.
Sometime last year, I embarked on a road trip with my friend Rita. When we were halfway through the trip, she started to feel ill and did not say something about it to me right away. Long story short, I got irritated with her because she decided to change the initial plan we had to stop at Ore and have some breakfast, considering we left in the early hours of the morning. Later that night, she explained why she requested we change the initial plan. I became considerate and things became smoother because she expressed herself.
Manage situations strategically
The individuals or friends that you choose to travel with can make or mar your vacation, and how you handle situations when they are going perfect determines if your trip will be a great or terrible one. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when you’re traveling, but you can mitigate the chaotic unknowns of travel by understanding your limitations and handling situations strategically. Although most tricky travel situations can be resolved through honesty, there are always going to be those cases where you can do nothing. More so when the trips are with friends and their friends, or individuals you do not know very well.
A personal me-time
Some of us can get tired of strangers easily, and at the same time, some of us use travel as a period to make new friends, connect with business partners, etc. However, when you are on a vacation that isn’t going well with people that you don’t know, you should find the best way to make the best out of a bad situation, and the very first step to take is to find me-time to cool off from the chaos. You can wake up early and take a walk. When you temporarily break off from the group, you do what you need to do to maintain your sanity and do your best to enjoy the trip.
Let me also add that me-time is very important, even without you experiencing some misunderstandings in the group, because meltdowns usually occur if members of the group don’t get some alone time to go do something they want. I advise you do not schedule your days full of group activities. Leave alone time, because breaks from the group can be a restorative and healthy component to traveling with friends.
Now back to the incident that happened at Charles de Gaulle Airport. According to the conversation I overheard, one of the ladies brought an old classmate into the travel group without informing the entire team that made the original travel plans. It didn’t end there; the said old classmate who joined and enjoyed the whole travel plan vehemently refused to contribute her share of the AirBnB payment and the household supplies the girls used during the trip, and this left the other ladies to think she came to feast off them.
Travel can bring out the best and worst in people, making or breaking friendships in the process. If you’re planning a group trip this summer, endeavor to adopt these strategies to avoid conflicts during the trip.
Do you have any group travel tips that I missed? Let us know in the comments below.