When we invited Kiwi actor Michelle Langstone into the Trip Notes studio to talk about the joys of group travel, we weren't exactly prepared for her response.
"I have to say, I have never, ever, ever done a group trip, and I never, ever will," she said, vehemently.
My Trip Notes co-host Tim Roxborogh and I are both huge fans of group travel and in the latest episode of the podcast — available to download now at iHeart Radio, Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts — we make our best case for why Langstone would like it too.
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But did we convince Langstone to try a group tour? You'll have to listen to episode three to find out.
TIPS FOR GROUP TRAVEL
Do your research
There are many different types of group tours from food-focused, to hiking, to cycling, to solo travel and trips for single parents. When choosing a destination and itinerary, make sure the style of travel is going to suit you and what you're looking for from your trip.
Read the trip notes
More research required — each itinerary will come with detailed trip notes explaining what you can expect from each day, what you need to bring, and any specific guidelines you'll need to follow. Don't be that person who turns up on day one with no idea what's in store ... it's painful for everyone.
Follow the rules
Yes, you're a grown-up and you can make your own decisions, but travelling as a group means you have to relinquish a little bit of control. Your guide takes ultimate responsibility for the group and, as such, you should respect their authority. They're also the experts in the places you're visiting so if they're giving you advice on how to behave or what to wear/not wear, you should listen to them. It's for the benefit of you, your fellow travellers and the locals whose country you're visiting.
Budget for extras
Some itineraries offer optional activities and experiences not included as part of the trip price (which you'll already be aware of because you read the trip notes, right?). Make sure you've budgeted for the extras you'd like to take part in, as well as meals and drinks not included. You might also want to give your guides a tip at the end of the holiday, so add that into your budget too.
Make the most of your leader
Having a local guide is such a privilege — they allow travellers to experience the best of a destination and find the hidden gems most tourists don't get to see. Capitalise on their knowledge — ask lots of questions and for tips; a good guide will be only too happy to share.
You don't have to be friends with everyone ...
Group dynamics can be hard sometimes. You're thrown together with a bunch of strangers, from all walks of life, and suddenly you're spending every waking hour together. While I have made some incredible friends from my group travels, I also once spent two weeks on a tour with the most awful woman I've ever encountered. Luckily, in the latter example, the other 12 people in our group were all wonderful, so my time with Linda* was just a tiny blip on what was otherwise one of my favourite holidays. The joy of being an adult is realising you're not always going to get on with everyone, and that's okay.
But you do need to show everyone respect
Linda missed this rule entirely. She was rude to our guides and to other travellers, and generally caused tension wherever she went. Don't be like Linda.
To hear more about group travel, as well as Michelle Langstone's favourite travel memories, listen to Trip Notes, available now. Langstone stars in Westside, Mondays at 8.35pm on Three.
For more travel inspiration, go to intrepidtravel.com
* Names have not been changed. Linda deserves to be called out.