Planning and managing a big trip—especially to a country you’ve never visited before—can be a daunting challenge. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with options to consider and choices to make. And even get stuck with the fear of missing out on getting the most from your time and budget.
One of the best ways to avoid all that anxiety is small-group travel planned, organized, and managed by professionals.
When you join a group trip with a travel professional, they, and their team, have already done all the planning for you. All you have to do is show up and have a great time. All of the hassle of finding and choosing hotels, ground transportation, must-see excursions, vetting local tour operators and guides, and planning the overall itinerary, timing, and pace of the trip has already been done for you.
When you’re looking for specialized travel for adventures like scuba diving or motorcycling, joining a trip offered by a company like Dive N Ride can get you from “Where do I start?” to “I’m so glad I’m here.”
Joining a group trip means you get to take advantage of the experience and destination expertise of your travel professional and their network. If there’s something that might be worth seeing, maybe, but it requires a two-day detour to get to, without decent accommodations or places to eat along the way, it probably won’t be on the itinerary. The trip organizer knows that isn’t the best way to spend your limited travel time.
On the other hand, if that way-out-of-the-way gem really is worth seeing but, unfortunately inconvenient, it might be the highlight of the trip. Because your group organizer used her experience and destination connections to arrange for overnight stays and meals in places that most travelers don’t know about and would never be able to find on their own. There are many travel opportunities that can only be found by industry insiders who have exclusive access to business-to-business connections.
Peace of mind
That expertise becomes even more important after the trip has begun. Because sometimes things just don’t go according to plan. Unexpected weather, road closures, a broken water main, or a restaurant kitchen fire could easily derail a trip you have spent months planning.
If things start to go just a bit sideways on a group trip, your travel professional will simply shift to Plan B. Without you needing to give it much thought at all, you’ll find that a substitute route, hotel, or restaurant will slide into the itinerary and the trip will continue, without a bunch of hair-pulling or lost sleep.
Deeper cultural experiences
Here’s another way that the experience and expertise of your travel professional can bring opportunities that probably wouldn’t be available if you were planning your own trip.
Let’s say you really like to visit art museums. Would you like a private, behind-the-scenes tour to see how the museum cares for its collections and curates its exhibits? That’s much more likely to happen when your travel company arranges it than if you try to do it alone, via email, from the other side of the world.
Want to dive deeper into the workings of local vineyards, wineries, artisans’ workshops, theater companies, research institutes, or whatever else you are interested in? If those sorts of things are easy to find with a Google search before you leave home, they are also likely to be geared toward tourists rather than travelers. They are more likely to feel like standing in line with a bunch of strangers to hear a canned presentation.
If you seek deeper, richer, more authentic experiences in local cultures with a small group of traveling companions, a small-group tour has a much better chance of delivering than if you try to work that into do-it-yourself planning.
More value for your money
When you join an organized group trip, you can also make your travel dollars go farther. Because your professional trip organizer is booking rooms, transportation, excursions, and meals for a group, they have the ability to negotiate rates that you just can’t get as a solo traveler or a couple. And since the venues and properties they work with want long-term business relationships, that translates into significant incentives to offer the best possible prices, even better than would be available if you got a similar-sized party together and asked for a significant discount for your group.
New travel friends
One of the biggest, and usually least expected benefits of small-group travel is making new friends. When you choose to join a trip that seems awesome to you, remember that the people you will meet on that trip also chose it very deliberately. They didn’t just end up there randomly. You already share common interests with your traveling companions before leaving home!
When you join a Dive N Ride scuba or motorcycle trip, you’ll already know that your companions also dive, or ride, or both. And you’ll know that they are comfortable in and will contribute to an LGBTQ-friendly environment. So you already have a lot in common. And if that trip also features, say, cooking instruction in Italy or citizen science in the Sea of Cortez, imagine the lively conversation around the breakfast table.
When you join an organized small-group trip, there is a very real chance that you will meet people who become your new life-long, close friends!