(This is a subject that deserves serious thought. Who you decide to travel with affects your trip experience in many large and small ways. Traveling in a group, traveling in a pair and traveling alone, I’ve done all three and will give you my personal advice over the next week.)
It is so easy to end up in this situation: you invite a friend to travel with you, they invite a friend or two, it snowballs and all of a sudden you are descending upon Italy like a gaggle of geese.
At first glance this may seem like an awesome idea: all your friends, an exotic location, it’s a walking party This logic, which works so well when you are renting a beach house for a week, doesn’t apply when you are backpacking for a month.
In my more naïve days I went on a reading week trip to Prague and Hungary with three of my study abroad buddies. On day one we were all excited, happy, the best of friends. By day three there was some serious drama brewing. One person thought it would be safest if we were all back at the hostel before dark. Another wanted to relax and do some exploring. Personalities clashed. Word’s like “uptight,” “inconsiderate” and “bitch” started getting thrown around. It was uncomfortable to say the least.
We were four nice girls who were normally pretty easy-going. We’d gotten along just fine back in England! Things change when you are on the road. It is nearly impossible for four people to all be on the same page regarding price points, activities and nightlife. Add in some incredibly close quarters and personalities get out of control.
I remember a lot of awesome things from that trip: the autumn leaves in Budapest’s City Park, the Museum of Communism in Prague (you can find it next to McDonalds). But I also remember the stress of traveling in a sleeper compartment the size of my bathroom with three people barely speaking to each other.
Nowadays I am reluctant to travel with more than one or maybe two other people. Even then only ones I am pretty sure will get along under duress. In a group everything is a major effort: where to go, what to eat, when to sleep. If I’m spending the time and money to get away, I don’t want to waste my time playing people-pleaser.
Has anyone else had positive or negative experiences traveling en masse?
Coming up Thursday: Traveling in pairs…