Group tours – love em or hate em – they definitely have their positive and negative attributes. I personally love group tours for exploring countries less travelled or conquering a lot of distance in a short time period. But I understand they’re not for everyone. Still, regardless of what side of the fence you sit on, some surprising things can happen when you’re actually in the moment – so if you’re thinking about embarking on group travel, take care to beware the following things:
- An amazing bond
You’re thrown together with people in such small confines, for such a small amount of time, yet it often seems to happen – there’s just that someone there you really click with. It can take years to find someone like that in the real world – yet here they are – thrust into a room with you – what are the chances?
- An epic irritation
On the other side of the amazing bond comes the epic irritation. There is a high likelihood that you’ll meet someone in your group who you end up loathing with an intensity you couldn’t have imagined. I mean, come on, it’s only 10 days, but ohmygodicantspendanotherminutewithhim! Just breathe, it’ll all be over soon.
- Spilling random secrets
When you’re faced with a group of people you don’t know, who don’t know you or where you’ve come from, and who you’re possibly never going to see again, sometimes it happens that you feel more comfortable sharing secrets: the real reason you went travelling, the guy you still secretly can’t let go… words may just come tumbling out.
- You’ll probably get naked
It seems that group tours are magnets for getting naked together. A hammam in Syria, a Banyan in Russia… just go with it. You’ll look around at those people you’ve known for 3 whole days and feel open and free… once you get over the initial discomfort.
- And then dressed up
On the other extreme, don’t be surprised if you’re whisked into a local home or shop, where you’re forced to undergo the embarrassment of being dressed in whatever local clothing befits that area – well the local clothing from the 1500s anyway…
- Uncle’s carpet/leather/gem shop
Whether you simply seek a decent toilet at an inopportune time, or it’s just built into the tour, at some point you’ll definitely visit so-and-so’s uncle’s friend’s carpet/leather/gem shop. These places are nasty tourist traps and once you’ve use the facilities, you’ll have to endure a guided tour, after which you’ll be ‘encouraged’ to purchase something. And don’t worry if it’s too big to carry – they’ll ship it! No worries.
- A big night just at the wrong time
Somehow, the one night where you should have gone to bed early seems to be the one night when all the crazy things happen. Hiking is no fun on little sleep, an early bus ride becomes unbearable hungover, and crossing the Syrian border… well you probably should be chirpy, instead of trying to crawl back under your blanket in the back of a taxi!
- You’ll be pushed out of your comfort zone
Things that wouldn’t have appealed to you before suddenly seem possible, adventurous even, when faced with a group of people who are keen for some action – sky diving in Africa, jumping off a cliff in Croatia, hot air ballooning in Turkey… Doesn’t mean you have to do it all, but it’s just that much more tempting when everyone’s in it together.
- Post-tour depression
Trust me, it’s a thing. You’ve just spent one of the best weeks of your life with a close-knit group of people and now everyone’s going their separate ways, possibly never to see each other again. You’ll miss your newfound buddies like they’re family and you’ll feel more alone than you ever have travelling by yourself. Unless of course you hated your tour, and everyone on it, then just get the hell out of there, and enjoy some alone time!
- You’ll be hit with the travel bug
Everyone in your group will be talking about where they’ve come from and where they’re heading. Just when you thought you’d ticked your travel bucket list off you’ll have 10 new countries to add to it. Ah the travel bug… he’s the irritation we all love to have.