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On the Road Tips

Once you’ve picked a destination, put together an itinerary and recruited friends to travel with you, it’s time to hit the road.

Travel brings its own share of challenges, though, so you should prepare for unexpected events, work to keep your tour moving on schedule and have a plan for how to keep your group entertained.

Planning for Anything

It’s impossible to anticipate every possible challenge that might come up during a trip. But successful travel planners never become complacent or allow themselves to be caught off guard by the inevitable delays, issues and hiccups that are inevitable on the road.

In emergency situations, it’s very important to remain calm, cool and visibly “in control” to the group members. If you appear rattled, visibly upset or uncertain, you could lose the confidence of your travelers, which could further compound your problems.

Training in CPR, first aid and crisis management certainly provides excellent preparation for any group travel leader. But the most important factor in dealing with the unexpected is developing an unflappable state of mind. See to it that nothing will surprise you, and realize that there is always an acceptable solution to even the most daunting problem. 

Schedules and Logistics

If you have a busy schedule of activities in mind for your trip, planning that schedule (and sticking to it) will require an eye for detail and sources of good information. You’ll need to know not only how long it takes to get from one place to another, but how long your travelers are likely to want to stay at each place. You’ll also need to schedule time for rest stops, meals, shopping, etc.

One of the most common rookie mistakes is including too much in an itinerary for the available time. Remember that everything takes substantially longer for a group than for an individual traveler.

Because of this, relying on a professional to plan itineraries is often the smartest plan for travel planners who don’t have intimate knowledge of the destinations they’re visiting. 

Entertainment on the Go

There was a time when keeping travelers entertained during long stretches of travel was a crucial job of a travel planner. In today’s world, when everyone travels with a smartphone and streams video on tablets, entertainment is not as important as it used to be. But in order to give your friends great experiences during every part of a trip, it would be a good idea to make sure you have ways of making long driving segments enjoyable.

Most groups of friends are able to entertain themselves with conversation fairly easily. But if you want to help keep things fun, consider bringing some great stories to tell, questions to ask or games to play along the way. If someone in your group is particularly entertaining, you might invite them to tell some jokes or share some funny stories along the way.

If you are working with a professional tour operator, the guide or tour director that they assign to your trip will be experienced at filling the time during long road segments, and will often use those times to give information or commentary about the region you’re traveling through. Some people find this information fascinating, while others get bored by it quickly. So feel free to ask a tour director to adjust his or her approach depending on the dynamics of your group.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.

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