Solo vs. group travel: Thailand experience

1 February 2019

I have often wondered which was better, traveling alone or in a group?

If my recent trip to Thailand is anything to go by, I’d say group travels are adventurous and challenging.

Solo or group trip?

Having travelled solo for many years, I had gotten so used to travelling solo that it was almost second nature to take care of the planning which included travel logistics, itinerary and outfits. I was so used to doing things on my own terms that relinquishing that power and allowing other people in was a struggle I hadn’t fully anticipated. A few friends managed to convince me to plan a trip to Thailand and decided to join me.

Travelling with two friends who are very different was a mammoth task. We have different personalities, preferences and priorities, trying to coordinate and align these differences was close to impossible. Unexpectedly, while planning the trip, things spiralled out of control when a huge fight ensued among us bringing me undue misery, anger, disappointment and heartbreak just before departure.

This all happened while I was busy reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK (a review worthy of its own blogpost) while ordinarily is not a good idea given the situation. While dealing with the challenges and dynamics of travelling in a group, the stories from the book were challenging me to confront and deal with the ‘harsh’ lessons, which got me thinking what lessons I was meant to learn from the fight and trip.

What did I learn from the experience?

This trip and experience taught me a number of valuable and life changing lessons which I will treasure for years to come. For this blog allow me to focus on only three lessons which are worth noting when travelling with other people.

  • It is NOT always about you

Many a time, we are so self-absorbed, thinking that everything is about us or about what we like or do not like. The thing about travelling in a group is that it actually is not about you. A lesson I picked from reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK, is that you really aren’t that special. I sat alone, sulking for the duration of a 10-hour flight which seemed justifiable to me, but in the greater scheme of things it was childish and unnecessary. Yes, people can fight and have disagreements, but at some point we need to stop sweating the small things and focus on the bigger picture. For God’s sake, we saved up for 10 months for this trip!

    Travelling together also makes it possible to leverage each other’s skills. For example one of the friends can really negotiate, I mean REALLY negotiate which worked to our advantage. We saved money on different packages and cabs. The other friend could organise, plan and ensure that all the boxes were ticked where for example our check-ins were done seamlessly and all in time. Because the third friend is generally calm and chilled, his help us stay calm when tempers escalated out of control. His calm nature, helped us gain perspective and reminded us of the “why”. If it is always about you, would all this be possible?

    • Talk and be open about your financial position

    It is often said that if you do not have honest conversations about your financial status with friends or family, this could lead to a number of flawed and unrealistic expectations. I disclosed how much money I had available to the team from the onset. As you go through the trip, there comes a time when you’ll take care of the bill and other activities to a point where you literally have no money left. It is reassuring to be able to call the team, reconcile (a very tedious process) and get PAID what is due to you, albeit uncomfortable at first. This removes the burden or the awkwardness that usually comes with money.

    Equally important is the ability to say no to activities that you cannot afford. Often times people are under pressure to please others in order to fit in. Being able to honestly talk with friends about what you can and cannot afford is really amazing. At times I had to switch to a more affordable drink or meal so I stay within my budget without feeling embarrassed about it.

    • Appreciate your friends (flaws and all)

    No one is perfect, nor is anyone flawless! It is our imperfections that make us who we are. This trip taught me to really appreciate my All of friends for who they are. Not because of their perfect traits, but because of their flaws. It has taught me to find joy in the random outbursts of laughter, the lack of punctuality or the lackluster attitude towards some things. It’s these flaws that make them special, it’s the imperfections that truly make life worthwhile. We fight a lot, we have many disagreements, but we also build each other. We are unapologetic about our dreams, passionate about self development and trust you me; we hold each other accountable to the highest standards.

    ” Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it”

    Ralph Marston

    Many days and amazing experiences later, a 1000 plus pictures taken, countless disagreements and many special moments together; we wrap up what has been an incredible trip in Thailand. Though the start of the trip was shaky and emotional, somehow we made it and came out stronger.

    Would I travel in a group again?

    Oh absolutely!

    Group travelling exposes one to amazing experiences, awesome memories and perfect pictures. Some of these moments are not possible when you are travelling alone. Besides the drama and differences, this trip was absolutely amazing. So, to everyone I consider a friend, I appreciate your uniqueness and value your presence in my life. Let’s make 2019 meaningful, express your appreciation to those around and always be in the moment.

    Till the next trip and adventure, here’s to love, peace and creating travel memories!

    Escapes with TKay

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