Ok, so you have booked yourself on a tour and you’ve done your homework so you know what you’ve let yourself in for (hopefully)… How exciting! But what will the rest of the people be like? Isn’t that the million dollar question? Tour leaders have no more say on who will be part of the group than you will. And much like the tour leader, you just have to get on with who is there. Patience, tolerance and flexibility are key attributes in any aspect of life when dealing with other people. But these factors are essential when you are travelling in a group. After many years leading overland groups around the world, it is safe to say the same characters present themselves. While you may think liberty has been taken with the stereotypes, I can assure you that mankind is a little more stereotypical at times than you might think. None more so than when people travel… A group of 20 people on a tour will naturally bring with them 20 different personalities. Among your travelling companions you will mostly likely find some or all of the following characters; Sensible Older Person: late forties, well read, well-travelled and generally the voice of reason. Wears his polished walking boots all day, every day. Older Independent Couple: in their fifties or sixties, retired, well off but down to earth, keen to see and explore every last thing and will probably know more about what there is to see than the Tour Leader. Natural Leader: in his late thirties, cool, calm, funny and one to turn to in a crisis if the crew are not present. Can also morph very quickly into a royal pain in the arse if he allows himself. Mother Figure: taking a sabbatical, has kids at home who are more worried about her than she is about them. Loving the new found freedom she has and will probably be the unexpected life and soul of the party. Single Hot Chick: in her late twenties, city girl, has money, up for adventure and partying. Bloody gorgeous and every man on the tour and off, will fancy the pants off her. The Baby: late teens or early twenties and the youngest on the trip. Normally a young lad who has been sent away to ‘toughen up’ and gain some life experience. First trip away and everything is so very, very new… Single Bloke and His Mate: two guys who are mates from way back. Late twenties, early thirties. Up for a laugh, constantly stitching each other up but good company to be with. Airhead: stereotypically scatty female in her twenties. Forgetful, funny and frequently opens her mouth without thinking. Man-Hater: in her thirties, running away from relationship problems. Hates men. No really, she hates men. She’ll tell you all about it… The Jester: single lad in his twenties. Doesn’t take anything, especially himself, seriously. Likes a few drinks but doesn’t know when enough is enough. Potential disaster zone. The Alcoholic: in his forties, loves the cheap booze as much as the sights to see. Quiet and morose during daylight hours, comes alive after a skinful. Nymphomaniac: late twenties and just out of a long term relationship. A party girl, up for anything. Literally. Numnuts: mid-twenties, the unfortunate one who will lose his passport, get mugged, chop his finger off and break his camera but will still find everything ‘absolutely amazing!’ The Whinger: early forties, has booked herself onto the wrong tour but won’t admit it. It’s always ‘too hot’, ‘too cold’, ‘too windy’ etc. Great to be with as long as she doesn’t open her mouth. The Oracle: been there, done it, knows it all. Male obviously, who loves the sound of his own voice, oblivious to the inevitable mickey taking he gets. Not a bad chap really, opinions aside. The Stingy One: rolling in money yet tight as a duck’s arse. Will quibble over 10 cents when paying the bill, reluctant to tip anyone, automatically knows at any given point how much he has spent on the trip. Will probably buy a Ferrari when he gets home though. The Veggie: there’s always one, normally a girl. Mid-twenties, generally a cool chick, funny but eats grass. And nuts. Silent Grafter: in her forties, always up early to put the kettles on, always mucks in, always on hand to help, never moans. A top lady all round. As scary as it sounds, this makes up an almost perfect group. Which one are you…? Have we missed any characters you have had on your tour?
Published in Miscellany Articles

Tour starts here

Travelling on an organised tour isn’t always as simple as looking at some cool photos, booking something and just rocking up at the start point.

As I mentioned in the previous post, ‘The Evolution of Group Travel’ there are numerous ways to visit the same destination. The style and type of travel you choose will depend on the level of comfort you prefer, your budget and personal interests.

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Camping Tour in Northern Brazil

Hard core backpackers will shudder at the very thought of group travel, because organised tours aren’t that cool are they…?!

Actually nothing could be further from the truth…

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Overlanding friends on tour in Peru

During my years overlanding I have driven passed countless backpackers struggling to make their way through places such as Patagonia, across Central Asia and through the Amazon.

Chuckle inwardly? Not at all…

Overlanding in your own, or someone else’s, vehicle with a knowledgeable guide makes life so much easier. We’re not talking shooting past the landscape on a night bus with limited opportunity to see and learn about the environment you are passing.

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Andy with own transport in Mongolia

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Overland truck wilderness camping

We are talking the freedom to camp out in the wilderness, wherever we want, whenever we want, shopping for supplies in remote and random villages and having impromptu interaction with the locals in places locals rarely meet Westerners.

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Shopping in Kazakhstan markets

No matter what kind of tour you are interested in; a four day camping tour in the Aussie outback, a two week budget hotel tour around South East Asia, or a six month overland expedition around South America; you will need to do some homework so you know what you are signing up for.

All too often people book themselves onto a tour without really knowing exactly what they are getting themselves into. It is highly unlikely you would spend several hundred or  thousands of pounds buying a second hand car without taking it for a test run first, so why do some people spend the same kind of money on a tour without first checking it out thoroughly?

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Overland group in Kyrgyzstan

If only we knew…

So to find out if an organised tour, especially a camping or overland tour really is your thing or not, consider the questions below;

Do you want adventure?

Do you like the great outdoors?

Do you like a challenge?

Can you cope when things don’t always go to plan?

Can you take instructions from someone younger than you?

Can you mix with people with differing opinions to yours?

Do you enjoy travelling with like-minded people?

Are you confident exploring somewhere independently?

Do you enjoy participating in group activities?

Do you want to interact with local people?                   

Can you deal with a cold shower?

Can you cope with being voted out in a group decision?

Are you prepared to pull your weight and do your share?

Morning person or not can you handle less than 7 hours sleep?

Can you survive without daily access to the internet?

Can you raise a smile when it really has all gone tits up?

yes, backpack and oasis truck

If the answer to most of these questions is yes then you are definitely cut out for group travel, so pack your bags and get going!

If not, it might be worth considering something a little less exciting, like an all-inclusive resort.

But how boring would that be…?!

 

(Abridged from the forthcoming book 'It's NOT a Holiday; The A-Z Guide to Group Travel' by Andy N Robinson & Kirsty McGregor)

Published in Miscellany Articles

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