Group tours can be a great way to see a country if you travel solo, but don’t want to be on your own. As everything is organised for you, it takes the stress away from having to plan accommodation, transport and itinerary. I’d totally recommend a group tour if it is your first time travelling overseas, or visiting a new country where you don’t speak the language.
I’ve done several different group tours with different tour providers and had some great experiences (as you’ll see from the pictures in this post). However the one downside for group tours is that you don’t know who you are travelling with. When you have to share experiences & rooms with strangers, then things don’t always go smoothly.
Maybe I’m getting grumpy in my old age, but the allure of a trip where you are expected to share a room has definitely worn off. Unless you are travelling with someone you know (eg a family member or friend), then you never know what kind of roommate you are going to get. Read on to see the different types of roommates you might come across on a group tour:
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The 7 types of roommates you might get on your group tour:
Or maybe not so innocent?! This person is in the country for the first time (but doesn’t travel much outside their home country, so isn’t worldly wise). They exclaim at every little thing that’s different, or don’t get some things which are basic to a well travelled person; e.g. like having to pay for the mini-bar, or not taking liquids onto a plane. This can be a tad tedious if you’ve travelled a lot and it’s old hat to you.
Was I taken on a ride (i.e. was this all an act) or were they really that innocent, naive and clueless?! As a roomie it can very annoying to put up with this without either getting frustrated or coming across sarcastic or patronising (or is that just me?!) But in general as long as you are all having fun, don’t worry too much – these people are who the guide is here to support. Remember you don’t need to hang out with your roomie all the time.
The constantly cold/hot
This roommate takes control of the thermostat or fan / window situation. One thing they don’t ask you before matching you with a roomie on a group tour, is whether you like air conditioning on or off and this can be a cause for tension.
I’ve been that person insisting on air con before – if it’s 30 degrees+ outside then I’m not going to leave it off! I’ve also been the one opening windows in the winter when the hotel had no thermostat and I was going to sweat to death in bed otherwise. What can I say I like to be cool to sleep!
Tour organisers should definitely ask you about this before pairing you up. But remember, it’s easier to add layers for warmth, than get cold without that air con…
The best solution is to talk to your roommate and compromise where needed (also pack extra clothes if you feel the cold)
Always thinking about themselves they use the wardrobe, bathroom space and spare chairs for all their stuff, relegating yours to squeeze in where possible.
Or they may flood the bathroom and use all the towels, with no consideration that you need to use it afterwards.
They may also decide to continue with ‘their’ routine, whether this disturbs you or not. This might be keeping lights on, getting up 40 minutes earlier than you (fine if you are sharing a bathroom, but at little extreme at 4am when not required. Sometimes its best to be on time and not extra early!)
It’s up to you how you handle this – confront them, ask nicely or just take space/tell them how it is…
The early / late risers
Whichever you are they are the opposite!! They will get up early when it’s not needed. Or scowl at you when you need to get up and turn the lights on early and they don’t.
This is probably rare on an organised group trip, as you are all participating in the same activities. It makes sharing a room difficult, unless they are blessed with brilliant night sight and are as quiet as a mouse. But you can also prepare for this by bringing ear plugs and a eye mask to avoid your roommate from disturbing your sleep.
The person who came on a group tour, but wants to be alone. They don’t participate in activities or group meals (unless it’s free/included with the tour).
They don’t hang out with the group, they don’t ask questions or volunteer information about themselves. Basically they are the antithesis of group tours…
Why did they join a group trip at all?! These people need private guides! There isn’t much you can do about these people except ignore and make friends elsewhere to hangout with.
This is the person who hasn’t brought half the stuff they need for the trip and is always borrowing yours. (That could be sunscreen, medication or items of clothing).
The caveat for this person is that generally it’s OK if they are very grateful for borrowing your things. In a group you expect that everyone has hand sanitiser and sun screen, so it’s not a big imposition to borrow some when yours is stuck at the bottom of your bag.
If they aren’t grateful then this is a pain on having to dig out extra stuff for them. But if no one shares then the outcome might effect the group. You could end up not being allowed into that temple as they aren’t dressed appropriately. Or having to put up with them complaining due to sunburn or insect bites…
The easy going one
This is the one who is considerate with other people, flexible of waking hours, doesn’t make too much noise. They will also join in and participate in the group and are generally a fun person to be around.
These people make the memories that you will remember forever for the tour. Generally I find most people will fit in this category and you’ll get some amazing experiences along the way, just as I have.
Remember if you are not annoyed with someone on your trip, then you’re the one who’s annoying everyone else! ?
So which of these 7 types of roommates have you come across before? Let me know in the comments below!
Ps – big thanks to all my tour mates who helped me write this (either directly or indirectly, don’t take it too seriously!)
Love the idea of a group tour! I’ve always thought about taking a solo trip, but being with a group seems like way more fun 🙂
I’ve had a lot of fun on my trips. I’ve also done a lot of solo travel – but I usually end up travelling with people whichever way I start!
Lindsey Puls says
Oh yes, group tours can be quite the experience! The innocent drives me the most bonkers at this point in my life, haha. I loved the quote you ended on as well – that’s too funny and so true! This was a fun post!
Thanks Lindsey! I’ve met plenty of people I that are now my friends through group tours, but sometimes it can be a struggle when you don’t have your ‘own’ space!
Great post! I’ll be honest, the uncertainty of who I would be traveling with has been a deterrent for me taking a group tour. I realize it can go the other way and you can meet some incredible people.
I’ve certainly met and made some great friends on group tours – I’ve travelled again with some people and visited them in their home countries. However sharing a room is another thing!! I’m much more sociable when I can control my bedroom! ?
Carly | FearlessFemaleTravels.com says
THE SMOKER. They’re always holding up the group because they need to stop for a smoke, and they always smell terrible. Then you’re like, “Can we please roll down ALL the windows in the van, and sleep with the windows AND doors open, and by the way, where I can buy some Febreeze?”
? I totally wouldn’t be able to cope with sharing with a smoker ??♀️
I haven’t travelled in a group for years, but I can definitely picture these clashes of personality/routine. I remember a tour way back where we stayed in hostels, and one woman who would repack her bag 3 times a day in the middle of the floor with all her stuff spread around the room ?
OMG what a nightmare – I could write a whole separate post on the anti-social things people do in dorm rooms!
Sage Scott says
With a daughter who is a freshman at college, we’ve spent the year joking about the expression, “You either have a roommate from hell or you ARE the roommate from hell.” So I read this article asking myself, “Which one of these roommates am I?” PS So far my daughter has totally lucked out and had amazing roommates. 🙂 ~ Sage Scott, the Everyday Wanderer
Oh my – she’s lucky then Sage!! ??
Such a funny post! Don’t know if I would have the patience/tolerance level to travel in a group. I like doing things on my terms way too much! The innocent would drive me nuts. I know not everyone is an experienced traveller but…
I do like the plus side of group travel – but generally you’ll meet people on the road when travelling and then you still need to consider others etc…. I think I might stick with the single supplement going fowards! ?
Roaming Required (@RoamingRequired) says
As I get older, the less I can tolerate so many of these personalities. I love to be surrounded by the Easy Going people!
Yes I agree with you Roma! The easy going types make the tour and luckily they are the norm!
Jon - Everybody Hates A Tourist says
Sharing a room with a rando is one thing that’s keeping me from doing more group tours. I’ve enjoyed traveling in small groups with people I didn’t know previously, & made some good friends that way, but I like having my own space
I totally agree Jon!
Lori Tripoli says
This pretty much describes all the personalities on a group trip whether you are rooming with them or not! It’s a good reminder about how to try to get along with people (annoying as some of them sometimes are!).
That’s true Lori!