Last September I went on a 16 day long interrailing trip in Eastern Europe with a group of friends from university before we started second year. Of the five girls I went with, I knew three well from being in halls with them and the other two I knew less well but were on the same course as my hall friends. Now six is quite a big number for an interrailing group, most people either go solo or in pairs or threes. During the course of our trip, there were times our big group was a blessing and times it was a curse. So I’d thought I’d share my pros and cons of travelling with a big group of friends.
It’s often really cheap to get an AirBnB
When you’re travelling in a group, you often get to stay in much nicer places for the same price. For example when we were interrailing, in three of the cities we stayed in – Warsaw, Budapest and Prague, it worked out the same price or cheaper to stay in an AirBnB vs a hostel. This means for the same cost, we got a space all to ourselves, much more reliable wifi, easy access to a fully stocked kitchen, a private bathroom and the ability to wash our clothes for free. Due to the fact there were 6 of us and we were all willing to share double beds, it meant when you divided the cost of nice apartments (often aimed at families or groups of couples) by 6, everything worked out really cheap.If you want to book your first AirBnB use this link here to get £34 off your first stay, whilst helping me earn some AirBnB credits for my next trip too! Now that’s what I call a win win!
You’re not alone
Obviously dependent on what kind of person you are, this could be seen as either a pro or a con but I think for most people, having someone to turn to in a stressful situation is really reassuring. This meant if anything went wrong (such as not being able to find the AirBnB or contact the host, or not having the right cash, or sitting in the wrong part of the train) you had someone to figure out a plan with. This definitely helped us out a lot as a group, because probably half the group are naturally too stressed and half the group are naturally too chilled. This meant when stuff went wrong we didn’t panic too much but equally we leapt into action and solved the problem.
Everyone has different skills
I’m a languages student, studying three languages so in most parts of Europe I can make a decent attempt at fending for myself linguistically, however I cannot read a map or follow directions to save my life! Luckily one of the other girls I went travelling with was awesome at map-reading and could navigate us pretty much anywhere with those low quality free maps they give away at hostels. Without each other, both of us would have had a much harder time. I think especially on your first trip, when you’re not even fully aware of all the skills you might need, it’s really useful to have a lot of people, with a lot of different skills to turn to.
Everyone has different styles
In life and in travel everyone has different styles. Some people are early risers and others are night owls. Some love walking, some love trying out new forms of public transport. Some enjoy eating out while others prefer a packed lunch. These are just some of the ways in which people differ and obviously this can make it tricky to travel together, particularly when you’re not used to living in sync with these people.
Everyone has different expectations/past experiences
One of the things we struggled with on our trip is that everyone had had different previous experiences of going on holiday – from people who had only ever been on beach holidays to those who had plenty of experience on sightseeing city breaks. This meant everyone had different expectations of the trip – some people didn’t anticipate all the walking we do and I didn’t quite anticipate all the costs. Another struggle was due to different expectations, some people didn’t really pack everything we needed. I can remember getting quite frustrated at a girl who didn’t bring a raincoat and went out in a pair of pumps when it was pouring with rain in Budapest.
Not getting to always do what you want
Naturally when you travel in a group, you have to compromise. You don’t always get to do what you want and you will have to do some things you don’t want to, or just aren’t bothered for. For example, one of my friends was super keen to visit Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, which I wasn’t bothered for. The gardens were nice but it was so hot that day and visiting the palace was just super busy! This is obviously just one example of compromise and I’m sure that other members of the group compromised to make sure I got to do what I wanted as well.
So what are your thoughts?
Do you prefer travelling in a big group or alone?