What is popularly known as a group tour is a kind of low-cost trip that pools people together to travel on one date and share the same itinerary/vehicle/guide. This is the complete opposite of a private or exclusive package. And now you finally bit the bullet and have signed up for one. Whatever your reason maybe - to save on cost, or you wanted the structure provided by outfitters or perhaps you just want to meet new people - it won't hurt to follow certain rules so you don't end up being the most-hated person in the group package.
• Read the guidelines sent to you BEFORE the tour proper. Getting yourself organized starts with knowing what to bring, when/where to meet, etc. All of these are information that are sent out (usually) days before the tour. Read up and save yourself the trouble of bringing unnecessary clothes or going to the wrong meet-up point. Who needs the stress, really?
• Stick to the schedule. Nothing annoys more the coordinator and the group than having that one person who arrives late or makes people wait as she takes gazillion selfies on a spot. Your companions may be too polite to call you out on this but remember that you are all supposed to follow one schedule only. Wasting people's time is disrespectful.
• Be a team player. The quality of a tour doesn't just depend on the organizer nor the guide. You can have the most cheerful coordinator/ courteous driver/ funny guide but if you refuse to engage with the rest of the team (company or fellow guests), you are practically short changing yourself of a good experience. Offer to take someone's photo or share your sandwich. Yes, sometimes it involves laughing at someone's corny joke. Sure, it wasn't really funny but it does the job of breaking the ice. Maybe that person will offer to take your photo, too. Trust us, mingling won't hurt you.
• Be sensitive to other people's space. You're probably in the mood to listen to some Dralke or Taylor Swift but some may not even be a fan of them or just want to snooze in the bus before the start. Keep your music to yourself (wear a head phone). We also understand that you'd want to catch up with your friends during the tour, but there is no justifiable reason to share your stories of your horrible boss or your sad break-up to strangers. There is a time and space for everything. Also, if you are traveling with children, please keep an eye on them. They may be cute and cuddly but don't go assuming that your seatmate would like to play yaya to your kiddos.
• Practice good hygiene. Yes, yes we understand that some of you have been backpacking for months now and have been using both sides of your shirt. But please do the group a favor and take a shower before going. The Philippines is a tropical country and the humidity here is really high. Sweating is a fact of life here in the islands. Acquaint yourself with a deodorant.
• Put the phone down. Another pet peeve of ours - the person who just can't stop taking/making business calls while on a hike. You are supposed to be having a break. If you really need to be in touch with your company, have the courtesy to place your phone on silent/mute and excuse yourself when you need to be on the phone. Talking loudly over the phone distracts everyone and takes away that zone of fun everyone was already. Don't be a spoilsport or you might end up being left behind by your group mates.
• Respect personal boundaries. Pleasantries are okay. Hi's, hellos' and where-are-you-from's are cool. But it can be off-putting to some people if they get asked of their salary, why they are travelling alone, if they have a boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. If during the tour break they decide not to join the group for lunch or coffee, respect their decision and refrain from taking it personally.
• Keep your cool. As much as we want for all travels to be perfect, there is just no guarantee. Vehicles break down, the weather doesn't cooperate and yes, someone is taking his/her sweet time taking that selfie (why, oh why?). We're pretty sure that your guide is doing his/her best to make things work and it won't help him/her if you start getting mad. Tap into your happy self.
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