All The People You Will Meet on a Group Tour
Groups tours are an unpredictable beast. Some people love them and make BFFs for life. And others, tend to stay clear and voice the preference to travel solo. Until recently, I was in the latter category. I had never been on a tour for more than a few hours at a time and when I had, I resented being hustled from one spot to the next often with an annoyingly loud middle aged man who just has to crack a joke every few minutes (no offense to middle aged men – who I’m sure make up the readership of this blog). Then, I won a tour to Turkey through the company I work for. This was before I even started this blog and I wish it was because so many people read this that I was being given free trips in return for one perfectly posed Instagram shot mixed with a dreamy preset. Not quite.
I loved visiting Turkey and the tour itself was so well organised and informative. But, I couldn’t help thinking about group tour dynamics and all the people you will meet.
Note: Please take this article with a big pinch of salt as it is intended to be humorous and not hurtful.
- The One who has been everywhere
I can quite confidently say, this person will be on every single tour. Ever. If you dare to mention a country you’ve been to before in his presence then no doubt he has been there. And he will tell you all about it. ALL about it. Even if you don’t ask. It doesn’t matter that he has only ever been travelling on organised group tours which fly through 20 countries in 2 weeks and he has never had to look after himself before because HE HAS BEEN THERE. Let me reiterate – HE HAS BEEN THERE. Be prepared to exhaust your eyes from all the eye rolling.
- The One who travels authentically and spiritually
Prepare yourself to come across the ‘authentic traveller’. This person will pack only practical clothes into the tiniest backpack imaginable while wearing Thai fisherman pants in the middle of a European winter. They will speak loudly and often of the bargain they got because haggling over the equivalent of one Great British Pound is apparently respectful to the local shop owners. They will spend their time dreamily flicking their cheap bazaar pashmina around their shoulders while raising eyebrows when anyone else buys a souvenir without haggling extensively. Don’t dare come along with your wheeled cabin size suitcase without expecting kind recommendations of where to buy a backpack. Wheels seem to offend their delicate sense of travel.
- The One who Instagrams everything
This one will always be perfectly dressed with artistic rings dripping from her fingers and beautifully curled hair that never seems to move even when the winds have whipped everybody else’s hair into a relative bird’s nest. She will carry a state of the art DSLR to snap insta-worthy traveller photos with the iconic ‘hand on hat while staring wistfully into the distance’ pose (damn I love that pose). She won’t be able to eat a single bite without first snapping a bird’s-eye-view shot and applying Valencia filter #foodielyfe #livinglife.
- The One who has no idea why they are on the tour
This is more than likely a middle aged couple who thought they signed up for a sophisticated journey through a new country only to be met with a group of 20 year olds who chug house wine and would prefer to buy questionable 2 Lira kebabs than pay a service charge at a restaurant. They spend their trip in quiet bewilderment and (im)patiently listening to calls of ‘I want to be like you when I’m old’.
- The one who gets sick and throws up on the 12 hour bus journey (yep, yours truly)
This one was me. There is always someone who will contract some type of virus and spend the 12 hour bus journey vomiting into a ridiculously small plastic bag. Not only will everybody steer clear of you and the pervasive lingering smell of acrid vomit but you will be forced to spend the next day cradling the toilet bowl rather than exploring the latest location. Life lesson learnt: never drink the water in Turkey.
- The one who gets drunk on the last night and slurs choruses of ‘we’re a family, man’
The last night of the tour is when everyone has a little too much to drink and inevitably does all they wish they could have done earlier in the week. This may be loudly arguing, drunken hook-ups, or throwing arms about each other and declaring the tour group ‘a family, man’. Social media handles are exchanged with fervent promises of meeting up in the future. These hazy love fests take place before the hungover breakfast where everyone sits nursing a cup of coffee and with perhaps, a few shamefaced travellers.
This was written as a humorous reflection on my recent trip and should be taken with a very large pinch of salt. I hate travel snobs who look down on the way others travel. I once sat in a hostel common room and listened to a girl loudly explain how she only travels ‘authentically’ and what a ‘spiritual’ time she had in Ibiza – no really, Ibiza. She followed that up by remarking how sorry she felt for tourists (not travellers who apparently are quite different *eye roll*) who spent their time buying souvenirs rather than ‘engaging organically’ with locals. I don’t care how people choose to travel. Do it on a tour or do it solo. Buy souvenirs or take nothing home with you. Do it with Google Maps or get lost in the streets. Lug a giant suitcase filled with clothes you’ll never wear or take only a tiny backpack with one pair of clean underwear. It’s your choice.
Do you like group tours? Who have you met while on a group tour?