Is a group tour right for you?

Is a group tour right for you?

Group tour or not?

Depending on your travel personality, tour travel can be a pleasure or a pain.  Enjoyable travel takes a lot of money, planning, and for things to fall in place.  Planning a trip with different sightseeing on the agenda takes a bit of experience.  An organized tour will provide all the organization and prep work for you.  Considering the advantages and disadvantages, is a group tour right for you?  Here are a few thoughts to consider.

Tour companies take care of all the organization and prep work for visiting landmarks.  They usually include the most popular destinations so that your itinerary will offer the best of your destination goals.  Tour operators and guides also provide a bit of insider knowledge since they are from the area. They often share historical information not widely known that can enhance the experience.

Organized tours have designated times and schedules.  This scheduling can allow you to relax and enjoy your travel without having to create your plans.  However, it prevents you from vacationing on your terms and timing. To many, this can be a significant disadvantage. The specific tour guidelines and lack of control can be a turnoff for many travelers.  Being stuck on a tour bus with dozens of people or a tour with a standard of service not expected can be a turnoff.

Knowing the maximum group size, age specifics, or style of tour is also essential.  Smaller group tours give the advantage of a more personalized and unique experience.  Age specifics allow you to be more aware of the group capacity.  A young adult going on a tour for retirees is a prime example of a mismatch.  Alternatively, going on an adventurous tour when you find relaxing trips more enjoyable can be a disaster.

One advantage of an organized tour is the fact that tours give an aspect of safety.  Tour companies are usually risk-averse.  They often choose destinations and activities that cater to the age and preferences of the tour group.  If travelers are not conscious of the age and demographics of the tour group, they can find themselves in undesirable circumstances.

Finally, pricing can be an advantage or a disadvantage.  Tour packages can include meals, transportation, hotels, flights, entry fees, or sightseeing.  Often travelers assume that their tour packages include items that are not included or available for an additional cost.  Although tour pricing can be attractive, individual research and planning could also be more advantageous. If considering a tour, do your research to determine if a tour is right for you.  Consider the advantages and disadvantages before deciding.  Do you prefer tours or trip planning on your own? I’d like to know.

LGBT+ travel.

LGBT+ travel.

Happy Pride month!  The LGBTQIA+ community makes up a large percentage of the travel population but can face singular challenges when traveling. For example, many countries do not recognize same-sex unions, and in some countries, same-sex relationships are considered a crime with significant or severe punishment.  Here are a few things to consider for LGBTQIA+ travel.

History suggests that members of the LGBTQIA+ community are some of the people most willing to travel.  In addition, the LGBTQIA+ community tends to travel more than their non-LGBTQIA+ counterparts.  This reality is partly because the LGBTQIA+ community is often dual income, with no children, and having more discretionary money and time to travel.

With the prevalence of travel in the LGBTQIA+ community, however, there are significant considerations to be made for travel. As recently as 2019, the country of Brunei enacted an Islamic law that makes it legal to flog and stone LGBTQIA+ people to death.  It’s not the only country where LGBTQIA+ individuals can face the death penalty for the simple act of loving someone of the same sex.  Therefore, for members of the LGBTQIA+ community, travel to top destinations is not a simple decision of when and if they have the resources to travel.

Many of the top destinations, such as the Maldives and Dubai, are primarily Muslim countries. In addition, top Caribbean destinations like Jamaica or Dominica have laws and attitudes quite contrary to the LGBTQIA+ community. Therefore, travelers need to be aware of these laws and attitudes before planning their trips.

Simple gestures like hand-holding that heterosexual couples take for granted are not a given for members of the LGBTQIA+ community.  Along with other travel issues, members of this community must consider when or if to show public displays of affection.  Even sharing a bed or using a dating app can be a hazard for members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Therefore, while many may want to travel as we all do, traveling to certain countries for LGBTQIA+ members can lead to the possibility of death for many.  As we wrap up Gay Pride month, I want my readers to be aware that many of the things non-LGBTQIA+ travelers take for granted are not a given for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Have you ever had issues when traveling as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community?  Were you aware of the risks many people unwittingly take when traveling? I’d like to know.

How to thrive with group travel.

How to thrive with group travel.

I wrote an earlier blog post about choosing your travel partners wisely.  Travelers may not always be able to select their travel partners with group travel.  However, there are ways to ensure your journey is pleasant and that you thrive with group travel.

Recognize your individuality.  No two people are alike. While there may be majority decisions or even unanimous decisions, all travelers have different needs.  For some travel group members, the desire is for escape, while it might be an adventure for others.  The reasons for travel are far too many, so embrace yours.

Be respectful of group members.  Even though your travel needs may be different than others, respect their needs.  Acknowledge their thoughts and ideas but state your own opinion.  If the group plans work for you, join in, and if they don’t, politely decline.

Be mindful of the advantages as well as the disadvantages.  For many, group travels can be a way to save money or provide a feeling of safety. However, it can also infringe on your privacy. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages ahead of time will prepare you for the realities of group travel.

Embrace similar interests.  Most group travels begin with a goal or interest that everyone shares.  Taking part in group tours or events with like-minded people can be exhilarating.  Sharing an experience with friends or family is much more enriching than telling them about it.

Know your travel goal.  Does the group travel involve a trip or a vacation?  For many, a trip usually has a purpose, while a vacation is about the experience.  If you consider the group travels a trip, you most likely will have a plan in mind.  If the travel involves a vacation, usually it entails rest or relaxation. Knowing your expectations from the group travel experience allows for travel that won’t disappoint.

Have you been able to thrive in group travel experiences? How? I’d like to know.

Before you travel.

Before you travel.

Many times, travelers get so excited about taking a trip and their destination expectations, they forget to plan for the actual trip.  One should do many things to prepare before you travel, but from my lived experience, I’d like to share a few tips to get you prepared for your trip beforehand.

Electronics

Charge your electronics!  It can be frustrating to be in the airport and not have access to a charger or find a plug outlet that holds the plug without you holding it into the wall.  Many airplanes now have in-seat outlets available.  However, they are not guaranteed and may be inoperative.  Be prepared and have your electronics fully charged before your trip.

Chargers

Don’t forget your chargers for your electronics.  When purchased at the airport, these items are often overpriced, and there is no guarantee of finding the correct charger or borrowing one on your trip.  My tip is to place your chargers on top or in your carry-on the night before your trip, so you do not forget them or pack them when you grab your bag.

Apps

Download all the apps you will need for your travel.  Many airlines now have their apps so that you can check in or get access to inflight information or entertainment onboard.  Other apps such as airport-specific apps, packing list apps, TSA apps, or country-specific apps are also helpful.  Downloading these apps at home before you need them is much easier than downloading them over airport Wi-Fi or on the go.

Security screening

Prepare for TSA screening or airport screening.  If your outfits or jewelry contain lots of metal, be prepared to take them off before going through airport screening.  It saves you time in security and prevents the lines from backing up when you constantly have to remove items to get through security.  Additionally, plan your footwear accordingly.  It will be easier to have comfortable slip-on shoes to get through security than to have to unlace a pair of boots.  You might also like to have a pair of socks on hand, so you are not walking on cold or dirty airport floors in your bare feet.

Government websites

Finally, be aware of government websites that will have travel information domestically as well as internationally.  Some to remember are TSA, the US Department of State, and the STEP or Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.  These sites allow you to get the latest security updates for your travel or destination.

I hope these tips help you and you are more prepared the next time you travel.  Do you make any preparations that I haven’t mentioned? I’d like to know.

Travel is more than a physical journey.

Travel is more than a physical journey.

Many people will tell you that they want to travel and have spent years saving or planning for travel yet have not done it. Traveling is more than a physical journey; it takes a lot more mental effort than most people realize.

If you have yet to travel and have a strong desire, ask yourself why not? Often people that have finally made an effort to travel will forever be travelers. I have yet to find someone who has traveled and said, “never again.”

Travelers become addicted to the people, places, and experiences they have while traveling. They become more open-minded and able to challenge their beliefs and strengths. Many think travelers focus more on the destination. Still, at the core, the destination is never satisfying because they want to go somewhere else, they set a new goal, a new destination, and it never ends.

Travel goals mean little if a traveler does not consider the process of achieving the goal. Just like setting a plan to lose weight or getting through a job interview, mental preparation is often the key to success.

To achieve your travel goal, here are five questions to ask yourself,

  1. Why do I want to travel?
  2. Where do I want to go?
  3. When do I want to get there?
  4. How much effort am I willing to give?
  5. What do I want to achieve by traveling?

I am sure that finding the answer to some, if not all, of these questions, will put you on a path to start traveling as you desire. The only way to start traveling is to do just that, start. Let me know if you find value in this piece; I’d like to know.

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