Who Should You Travel With? Part 1 of 3: Why Traveling in a Big Group will Make you Crazy and Possibly Homicidal

(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.

Please feed me!
Creative Commons License photo credit: Daveness_98

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.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Jsome1

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…

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Rebecca B.
Rebecca B.

Oh man, I had this happen once! A couple years ago in college, I did a semester abroad in the Netherlands. We had class four days a week and could do short travel breaks for three days in between. Additionally, there were two “big breaks” in the semester where all 80 of the class traveled somewhere together (to the same city, but we didn’t mob around with 80 of us together obviously, haha) for 5 days, before breaking into smaller groups to travel for another 5. During one of the short 3 day trips, I was planning to travel with… Read more »

Sasha - On UR Way Travel
Sasha - On UR Way Travel

Group travel some of the best and worst moments of my travels!!! I think the worst moments I had were travelling in large groups. It becomes a bit like high school popularity contests and rumors. Not to mention you spend so much time either focusing on only a few people or trying to get to know everyone just a tiny bit that it’s difficult to make really good friends. I much prefer travelling with just two other friends. A small gang who are all able to accept that we all have different interests and need to sometime pursue them on… Read more »


Ah… the joys and nightmares of traveling with a group. I’ve had both — fabulous trips with small groups of girlfriends and family members, and not-so-great ones. You’re SO right that just because you get along well with folks in one setting, it doesn’t automatically follow that you’ll have a good time on the road. And if you happen to be the friend who knows the other parties well — but they don’t know each OTHER well — you could be in for a rough go. I’ve also had my trips “hijacked” by folks who, as your post said, told… Read more »

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