Based in Houston, Texas, GEV is a blog by The GreenEyed Venuist. Her posts explore travel and photography through her green eyes.

5 Things I Learned From Traveling with Groups

I'm scared to travel alone. That's the honest truth. Some people are fearless - they'll strap on a backpack and traipse all over Central America by themselves. Unfortunately, my solo travel balls haven't dropped yet so, I like to stick with a minimum of one travel companion per trip. 

Sometimes, though, I travel in larger groups. When I do, I inevitably learn a few valuable lessons. 

Let's use this example: 4 women, in one room, on a trip to San Francisco and Napa Valley. Yeah...you've known these chicks for a while...but you don't really know them, know them b/c you've never spent an entire 2.5 days with them. Believe me....by the end of the trip you will know more about them than you ever wanted to in your whole life.

Don't get me wrong, you will likely have a fantastic weekend with these ladies but there will be moments that cause you to judge yourself like, why did I come here with these people? So, I started to take note of when I had those moments because I feel that it is beneficial to share with (read: warn) others. The following are 5 Things I Learned from Group Travel. This is a short, non-exhaustive list of things I learned from my varied travels with friends, in no particular order:

1. You cannot travel with everyone. And I mean that sincerely. If you're like me, you have a small group of close friends that you've known forever. You probably think you know everything about them. You're wrong. Trust me. You might learn new things about your friends that bring you closer together. You might learn of an incredibly annoying personality traits or habit that makes you strongly considering running out into oncoming traffic just to avoid that person. So, my best advice is to choose who you travel with wisely. You don't want to have to leave someone's daughter in a foreign country b/c you spend another minute with them and you hopped on the next thing smoking back home (I kid, but not really).

2. Leave your broke friends at home. I'm not rich. I'm not impoverished either so you can expect me to travel the same way I live my life. But traveling with people that are unwilling to spend money on anything while on vacation REALLY grinds my gears. If you are unable or unwilling to spend some amount of money while on vacation, then you can't come with me. Real talk. 

3. You make memories with your friends. During my latest trip to Paris, my friend and I walked the entire city. One day we purposefully put away the map and meandered. We stumbled across the most beautiful little park. Later, I saw this park on a list of Paris' parks to visit. I don't remember the name of it but it was incredible. At that moment, I texted my friend like, "Remember that cute park we found?! I just saw it on this list...we've already been there! How awesome is that??" Later, over a glass (or whole bottle) of our favorite Carmenere, we can reminisce about the day we got lost in Paris and found that park. See what I mean? Memories are amazing and sometimes the memory of some distant country I've visited helps me get through a long day. It's even better when you can share that memory with a friend. See a pic of the park below:


4. It's ok to stray from the group. If you aren't interested in the taking the group trip to the dog collar museum (there is one, I checked. Just Google "World's Most Boring Museums") or the Spam Museum, then you don't have to. You can make other plans (gasp!) and meet up later. No one should be offended. It's difficult arranging an itinerary that everyone will like so don't stress over it. Go for a walk, sit on the beach or find something else to occupy your time until the group returns. 

5. Be open-minded. While in Rio last year, my friend spoke to a random man on the beach the first day we got there. Turns out he was trying to sell her a day trip to Buzios. he mentioned a yacht, drinks, shopping and food and she was sold. The day trip to Buzios wasn't on our original itinerary but because the five of us had an open-mind, we welcomed the idea of this adventure. A couple of things though: my friend spoke to this random on the beach to get this information. I don't normally talk to random people but I know she will and it's fine b/c we find out cool things to do that way. Just make sure when you strike up conversation with randoms on the beach they aren't just trying to rob you or something, in other words - use discretion. Also, I get terrible sea sickness so I was worried about becoming ill on the yacht. But, I had kept an open-mind and was able to keep myself preoccupied enough that I didn't spend the 2 hours leaned over the side of the boat and that's a positive. Another positive....I got to see this:



And this:


This too: 



This last one is my favorite. Look at how blue the sky was that day. And I could have missed it! But I didn't...b/c I opened my mind to the possibility of the greatness. Everywhere I go, there's always at least one thing that makes me exceedingly happy that I stepped out there.

As I mentioned, these are just a few things I've learned but I think they're really important. You have to be self aware, knowing your tolerance and patience levels in advance. Bad travel companions can ruin an experience. Maybe I'm just really picky about what I want my experience to be. But that's ok too...b/c when you know, then you can make better decisions. Until next time

* There's no where to go but everywhere...so get going! ~ The Green Eyed Venuist

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Pack for Weeks in a Carry-on