I’ve done quite a bit of group travel, from traveling with small groups of people I know, to taking larger and longer group trips with strangers. Traveling with a group usually makes me excited, but sometimes it makes me a little nervous because of all the variables and personalities.

At the end of my experiences traveling with groups, I’m always glad I did it. That’s because there are things to do with groups that you can’t do on your own, and there are unique ways that group travel can be really fun if you’re prepared.

Here are the tips I’ve used to enjoy group trips and the ways I’ve made the most of being with a lot of other people. I hope these ideas can make your group travel a bit more fun, and less hectic.

Do things you wouldn’t do on your own

The first way I make the most of traveling with a group is that I specifically consider what I can do with the group that I can’t do by myself.

I’ve done my share of traveling with a group, from a 45-person group trip with my family when I was 18, to a 15-person volunteer trip to India in my 20s. I think the fact is that there is strength in numbers, and on both these trips, I got to do things I NEVER would’ve been able to do on my own.

For example, in India, we had dinner with locals, volunteered at an old age home and took a boat trip out of Mumbai’s harbor to a village on the coast. I was so glad to be able to do these things with a group because I never would’ve dreamed that I could do them on my own. Having our local guide leading our group in India was an immense benefit, and I was grateful that a group trip afforded me these experiences.

Utilize everyone’s skills in the group

A cool part of being on a group trip is that you’re constantly with people who have talents that are different from yours.

When I was on the remote work and travel program I did, I traveled with a group of 25 people from city to city. Among us, people had all kinds of diverse backgrounds. It was really fascinating for me to be traveling with people who were jewelry designers, real estate managers, journalists, entrepreneurs, filmmakers and sales professionals.

Helpful Tip

Interested in a group trip where you can also work remotely? Check out our guide to what is Remote Year.

What I thought was fun was to make the most of learning about other group participants’ skills. For example, one person was really into fitness, and offered to lead a workout class in a local park for everyone. Aside from that, I offered to help some other people learn Spanish, and someone else offered to lead a discussion on goal setting a personal achievement tracking.

This was all so interesting to me! It was a great way to really enjoy that I was traveling in a group with unique individuals, and I got to appreciate their strengths.

Come out of the trip with new friends

I’ll never forget how I went on my India trip with no expectations at all — I was just excited to go to India. I didn’t expect to make a buddy by the end of the flight, and I certainly didn’t expect to make a friend I’d be in touch with for a decade after the trip ended.

But that’s what happened when I met Taliaferro, and we bonded instantly on the bus ride from the airport to our hotel in Kerala. We became each other’s other half for the next seven days, and when we parted ways after flying back to the US, we hoped we’d see each other again!

YEARS later, I went to Los Angeles, where she was living, and got to have dinner with her. What a cool thing to do, having met across the world and then getting to reunite after so many years.

I think one of the ways to enjoy group travel is to be open to starting new friendships. You never know who will become someone special in your life, and by being open to making new travel buddies throughout the course of the trip, you can have a fantastic time.

Do group excursions that suit the group’s goals

When Dan and I were in the Dominican Republic, we were “loosely” on a group trip. I say this because we flew in by ourselves, but we met up with a group that was all Remote Year alumni from different cohorts through the years. So we had the framework of a group trip, but we could do what we wanted, when we wanted.

Here’s my example of doing excursions that suit the group’s goals: one night, we all took a big van ride out to a fishing settlement on the coast and had a giant group dinner with fresh seafood from an authentic Dominican restaurant owned by a very fun woman. This excursion checked all the boxes for all of us because we got to do something new, see the sunset on the beach and eat incredible food we couldn’t have found elsewhere.

It was so much fun, and totally wild! It was our last hurrah together as a group and it was this unforgettable group experience that made us all happy to have one another’s company on this trip.

(Also, I could’ve never done this if I were on my own, and it also would not have made sense for me to do so)

Do “bigger things” that a small group wouldn’t

The more people you have in a group, the bigger the activities you can do. This is what happened in Medellin, Colombia, when our 25-person Remote Year group pooled some funds and rented an Airbnb house to have a Halloween party at.

The fact that there were 25 of us with a budget, as opposed to only 3 people trying to do the same thing, meant we could go “bigger.” A small group, or a couple, or a solo traveler, wouldn’t have the access to doing something like this during a group trip.

The house our group rented for the night, to hang out in, had an indoor pool in the living room. Again, it was totally ridiculous, and it was a way to enjoy traveling with a group because we did something memorable all together.

Make SURE to split group meals equitably

This is one of the hardest things about group travel: splitting group bills at restaurants when everyone has a different idea of what they owe and how to split it. I talk at length about my tip of talking about the group’s budget when figuring out how to survive a group trip with friends.

With group travel, you may be traveling with people you know, or you might be traveling with people you just met! I’ve seen a mix of these in my travels; I’ve been traveling with one friend at multiple points in my old backpacking days and we’ve linked up with other travelers we’ve met in a hostel. We turn into a tight-knit group for a few days and share LOTS of meals at restaurants.

If you want to keep friends rather than lose them, prepare to approach splitting meals fairly and equally so that nobody from the group leaves with bitterness in their mouth. Talk beforehand about if someone gets a drink, that they’ll pay for that, and how much each person should expect to tip on top of what they owe, and so forth.

Splitting group expenses has been one of the most touchy subjects for me in my years of group travel. It’s unavoidable, but I recommend going into it with acknowledging that it’ll be hard and it may not be perfect.

Offer to organize a group activity

If you have felt that the group’s choices for excursions, entertainment or itinerary has been lackluster, offer to organize the next activity.

I did this in Lima, Peru, for our Remote Year group, and I thought it would be fun to get folks down to the Historic Center of the city, to learn about the historic landmarks I hadn’t been to yet. Luckily, a few people were down for this idea, and we spent a beautiful sunny afternoon seeing old churches, old streets, shopping areas and the main square, all while Dan took photos so that we could memorialize the excursion.

With a group, there can be something I want to do, but don’t want to do it alone, and I may find people who also want to partake. That’s the fun of group trips, and a way to maximize the positive experience.

Feel free to branch off and do your own thing

Group trips can be tiring, or overwhelming. There are going to be people who want to go-go-go. Sometimes I get a big worn down by the constant group energy, and I choose to go off on my own to do something.

There’s nothing wrong with this at all, and often, a lot of group travel frameworks allow participants to take time for themselves and explore when there’s a rest day in the itinerary, or down time in between planned events.

Take time away from the group’s energy to recharge by yourself, and sometimes that refresh is all you need.

Ask for help from people in the group

Back to our Dominican Republic trip, well: our accommodation was right next to a river and let’s just say it had a lot of wildlife.

I was in our room grabbing a sweatshirt for the evening when I opened the closet and saw the biggest spider I had ever seen in my life. I nearly lost my mind, and then remembered to use the power of the group to ask for help: I Whatsapp-texted the group’s Whatsapp group and asked if anyone was available to help me right that second.

Luckily, someone was, and helped me get rid of the giant spider. I was so, so grateful to have support and help from a group of trusted people, right at my fingertips while abroad.

Try new experiences in a group setting

Once I had made friends within my group travel program, we felt a little bit like family. OK, sure, we felt like family that had known each other for about four weeks.

One day, the group activity was to go rappelling in a waterfall in the forest. I figured, I should give this a shot. After all, “everyone” was going to do it.

I’m telling this story NOT because I was terrible at rappelling (everyone laughed at me while I struggled to rappel down the waterfall), but rather, because I felt like I could seize this opportunity to try something totally new, knowing that I was surrounded by (somewhat) supportive people.

It’s true: after the trip was done, we all laughed that rappelling was NOT going to be my new hobby nor area of expertise, but it was a fun and exhilarating side trip, nonetheless.

Convene for an end-of-trip meeting

While this sounds kind of formal, it can be helpful. Coming together for a sit-down gathering that’s led by someone in charge like a leader or a guide, or just a naturally leadership-savvy person in the group, can be a time to reflect on best memories as well as challenges the group overcame.

Every group is different, and some groups may be 5 people, whereas some may be a group of 55. There may have been arguments, or emergencies, or times when the group split into having really strong opinions on a topic that came up.

Coming together at the end of a trip can be a way to end on a high note, hitting home that the trip was a positive one and a learning experience.