Traveling in Packs: The Pros and Cons of Traveling in Large Groups
Written by Alicia February 9, 2016
This past weekend I experienced my first overnight travel away from CIMBA, and, like any other first, it was quite the learning experience. Our party of ten was one of many that chose to spend their second weekend abroad in beautiful Firenze (Florence). Together we trooped up and down the ancient cobblestone streets – tripping over the unfamiliar pathways, laughing loudly amongst ourselves, and sharing much quieter moments of awe as we looked casually to our left down a tilting alleyway and spotted incredible sites, such the Cathedral di Santa Maria.
The group made, from within itself, a great number of lasting friendships and managed to make every moment interesting. However, it would not be accurate to claim that traveling within a group so large was not without its struggles. There are pros and cons to traveling in large groups and whether or not a person elects to join a large group or travel lean should most likely depends on who that person is. To get a better idea of what it is like, I’ll give some of the reasons I really enjoyed, and struggled with, a large group.
- CIMBIANS are pretty cool and it’s nice to be able to spend time with so many.
- Traveling in packs also usually provides the opportunity to travel inexpensively, dividing the price for hotels and cabs amongst more persons. It also provides the age old “safety in numbers” and one never has to worry about being along in a confusing and unfamiliar city.
- In the same aspect, it is much more difficult to get lost when there are multiple people checking maps and road signs to make sure we are heading in the right direction. The same can also be said for flights, train rides, and tickets.
- However, the aspect I found most rewarding was the accumulation of ideas, knowledge, and opinions. With a large group, the diversity of events and adventures increases dramatically to accommodate everyone’s preferences and allows for a much more full and comprehensive tour of the city. For example, on this trip, the most enjoyable part of Firenze was walking through the Boboli gardens, which I would not have even known existed without the teams combined knowledge. Together many of us strode to the very top, where we were greeted with the most incredible view of the entire city.
- One of the most frustrating aspects is that it is much more difficult to experience and learn about the local culture. Three tourists can slide by without too much disruption, while ten enthusiastic students is often a head-turning distraction in the less tourist tramped alleys.
- Another important thing to consider is that, with so many different ideas and opinions, the group may struggle to make decisions. An understanding must be reached that not everyone will want to do everything and that it is nearly impossible to satisfy all group members at once. It also wastes quite a bit of time trying to sort through all the possible ideas and destinations and results in less activities being accomplished.
However, there is an easy solution to this challenge, which our group managed successfully by the end of our trip. It is: to split up a large group into smaller ones with much more similar interests and goals. This is also helpful due to the fact that stores, cafes, and restaurants are much smaller than we are used to and usually can’t accommodate such a big group.
The most important thing to remember is just to be flexible. Traveling in large groups is fun and exciting—but so is traveling in any sized group. I just keep reminding myself: You’re in Italy! Every moment is an adventure, no matter where I am or who I am with.