In March of 2019, I left my job as a New York City corporate lawyer to travel the world full time as a travel vlogger and writer. I decided to start this crazy adventure by joining a 12-month group program called Remote Year. I have traveled the last 12 months with 26 amazing humans who made the same decision, and in doing so, I’ve learned a lot about the dynamics of group travel.
Here are 6 benefits of group travel that’ll help you decide if it’s right for you.
1. Focus on the experience, not the logistics
I love to travel, but I’m not too crazy about the planning part of it. Group travel programs handle all the logistics for you, which allows you to simply show up and enjoy the experience.
The program I travel with (Remote Year) handles all the flights, transportation to and from the airport, accommodations, local activities, experiences, and provides access to a 24/7 co-working space and a support team that handles any issues that come up. BOOM.
When a flight gets canceled, I just sit back and let them deal with it. If a toilet doesn’t flush, I don’t have to contact the owner and coordinate getting it fixed. If I want a recommendation for a good local restaurant, all I have to do is ask the local support team, and they’ll recommend a place.
I know some people love the planning side of travel, but for those who hate logistics – group travel is great for avoiding that headache!
Related: 5 Tips for Traveling With a Friend
2. Develop friendships with like-minded people
Traveling with a group reminds me a lot of my time in the military. I formed strong bonds with people from vastly different backgrounds because we had a shared experience.
Like the military, many group travel programs are comprised of people from different backgrounds, cultures, life experiences and age groups; however, these same people are also brought together by a common interest.
For this experience, that common interest was travel, and the individuals in my group bonded over our shared travel experience. Group travel allows you to form friendships with like-minded people whom you probably wouldn’t come into contact with otherwise, and that’s a beautiful thing!
3. Experience moments and meals with others
I’ve had so many “moments” in 2019 with Remote Year. Hiking to Machu Picchu, kayaking through Patagonia, sailing Ha Long Bay on a wooden boat, and eating durian (I don’t recommend durian by the way).
All of these moments were even more special because I experienced them with new friends I met traveling as a group. Also, for me, a BIG part of travel is food! Meals are SO much more enjoyable when shared with others.
4. Save money with more people
If you’re traveling with friends and not through a company, you can reduce costs significantly by traveling as a group. Everything from accommodations to hiking excursions can be reduced with larger group numbers. Two-for-one deals? Not for the solo traveler, sadly…
While you do pay a premium for logistical support when you hire a company for group travel, there are still ways you can save money. For example, I’ve taken side trips outside the program, visited historical sites, and booked local experiences at a reduced cost because I had others from the group join me.
5. Enhance your experience through the perspectives of others
When you travel in a group, people come from different backgrounds and carry vastly different life experiences. If you open yourself up to this and are willing to see a travel experience through the eyes and stories of others, it has the potential to change your perspective and enhance your understanding of the places you visit.
Try this and you will never stop learning about yourself and others and the world around you.
6. Be safe in numbers
This one is pretty straight forward — there is safety in numbers. You are less of a target when you are with other people.
This doesn’t mean you should let your guard down, don’t ever leave your common sense at home, but group travel does make me feel like part of a pack and packs generally protect their members.
Helpful Tips for Group Travel
Plan some alone time. There are going to be times when you need a break from the group, so make sure you plan for that time. Whether you sneak off to take some photos, journal about your travel experiences, or explore a new neighborhood on your own, taking time for yourself every now and then will make the group experience even better.
Have a way to communicate. Come up with a way the group will communicate. Whatsapp is a great way to do this. Whatsapp isn’t as popular in the United States and Canada, but it is the primary way to communicate overseas. Use Whatsapp to start a group chat with your travel group in order to coordinate group events.
Talk through issues when they come up. If you travel in groups long enough, disagreements and arguments are bound to occur. Make sure you don’t let problems fester. Come together as a group to work out any issues. Nothing will ruin a group experience quicker than unresolved issues.
Be democratic when organizing group events. Let everyone participate in coming up with group event ideas and then let the group vote on it. Select the idea with the most votes, but also consider splitting the group up into smaller groups to accommodate ideas that also got a good share of the votes.
Use Venmo or Splitwise to take care of debts. In a group setting, it often happens that one person will cover a tab to be paid back by everyone else later. If you have Venmo ahead of time, money lent and borrowed can be paid back immediately, which takes care of the issue quickly and efficiently. Splitwise keeps track of expenses so that at the end of a trip (or periodically) balances can be paid. Decide on these methods in advance, (set Venmo up before you leave the US for verification purposes), so that money issues don’t arise.
How To “Do” Group Travel
There are many different ways to create or find a group travel experience. For example, you can start with a group of friends who like to travel and plan an adventure with them. Use websites and apps like Pebblar, Tripit, and Travify to help build group itineraries. Apps like Splitwise and Splittr are great to track and split expenses with the group.
If the idea of building your own group doesn’t appeal to you, consider traveling with a company that specializes in group travel. I mentioned before that I travel with Remote Year. Remote Year is a great option for those that want to keep their job and work while traveling.
If you are into more specialized travel groups, there are a ton of options. Our own Traveling Jackie hosts group trips that cater to adventure travel groups and women-only travel groups. There are also companies like Flash Pack that cater to people over 30 and U30X that cater to people (mostly, but not required) under 30 (use code JUMP to save $50 on any U30X trip).
Have you ever traveled in a group? If so, how did you like it? What were the benefits of group travel for you? If you haven’t tried it yet, would you consider it now? Did these 6 benefits of group travel convince you? Share your thoughts below!
By Kevin Martin