8 tips for not just surviving but thriving on a group trip

Mar 1, 2020

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Sixteen women — many who didn’t know each other — decide to go on a 10-day trip to Morocco. What could possibly go wrong?

We spent nine days traveling around Morocco riding in four Toyota Land Runners with five guides from Trips To Morocco. Here are eight tips from me and my besties, Lauren and Roxana, that you should strongly consider if you decide to plan and execute a girls trip.

Our trip planner, Lauren A. (Photo by XXX)
Our trip planner, Lauren A. in Chefchaouen, Morocco, known as The Blue City. (Photo by Cheryl Foster)

Pick the right group

My bestie, Lauren A., was the trip planner and the alpha woman. Everyone on the trip was either directly or indirectly connected to her. Back in May, she sent out a note about this February trip, and I was the first one to respond. Once it was all said and done, there were five of us who went to college together, Lauren’s stepsister and stepsister-in-law (who brought her childhood friend), women from the New Jersey “Mommy Mafia” and the crew from Lauren’s hometown of Ipswich, Mass.

Our group shopping in the spice market in Merzouga, Morocco. (Photo by Trips To Morocco)
Our group shopping at the spice market in Merzouga, Morocco. (Photo by Trips To Morocco)
Whiners, complainers, gossipers and instigators should all be told “So sorry, the trip is filled. Maybe next time?” You never really know someone until you travel with them, but you should have a good idea of how “go-with-the-flow” they are beforehand.

Be upfront about trip costs

We took over this lovely riad for our two nights in Fes, Morocco. (Photo by Benét J. Wilson/The Points Guy)
We took over this lovely riad for two nights in Fes, Morocco. It included breakfast and dinner. (Photo by Benét J. Wilson/The Points Guy)
Lay out trip expenses as clearly and honestly as possible beforehand. Include everything, including airfare, hotel, meals, alcoholic beverages, tips, transportation, souvenirs, site entry fees, spa day, etc., so that there are no surprises. Also, insist on having travelers put up a deposit of up to 20% up front to weed out last-minute cancellations or those who just can’t make up their mind.

Watch out for posers

France-based cruise line Ponant offers voyages around the Maldives on an intimate, 184-passenger vessel. (Photo courtesy of Ponant).
France-based cruise line Ponant offers voyages around the Maldives on an intimate, 184-passenger vessel. (Photo courtesy of Ponant).
Beware of what I call aspirational travelers. You know who they are — the ones who vote for the expensive 10-day Mediterranean cruise, but you know are going to have a hard time getting even three days off from work. Double for those who always seem to have money problems.

Know your audience

The donkey parking lot at the market in Erfoud, Morocco. (Photo by Benét J. Wilson/The Points Guy)
Glamour girls will not want to walk through the donkey parking lot at the market in Erfoud, Morocco. (Photo by Benét J. Wilson/The Points Guy)
This is an extension of tip number one. Don’t take Glamour Girls camping, Mormons on wine tours or hikers to a spa resort. State your trip itinerary well in advance and try to have alternatives (when possible) for those who don’t want to participate in everything. Lucky for us, our group participated in everything.

Bring a few Scouts

I was a Girl Scout, from Brownies to Senior. All these years later, I still live by the motto: Be prepared. I’m the one with the bottomless purse who can pull out an Ace bandage, a sewing kit, extra sweaters, a Sharpie, myriad medicines and 10-foot rope on a moments’ notice. Scouts are priceless additions to any trip. And Girl Scouts always have cookies!

Bring a newbie or two

A sunset in the Sahara Desert in Morocco. (Photo by Benét J. Wilson/The Points Guy).
A sunset in the Sahara Desert in Merzouga, Morocco. (Photo by Benét J. Wilson/The Points Guy).
Although seasoned travelers are nice as a known entity, sometimes the joy of someone seeing or doing something for the first time makes it magic for the whole group. And we had that, which just added to what was a great trip.

Leave room for everyone to be who they want

We have an impromptu dance party by the side of the road on our way to the Sahara Desert. (Photo by Benét J. Wilson)
We have an impromptu dance party by the side of the road on our way to the Sahara Desert. (Photo by Benét J. Wilson)
On a girls-only trip, you are no one’s mother, no one’s wife and no one’s daughter. As such, you are free to be who you really are or want to be. You get reacquainted with yourself as a person. It is completely liberating not to have to consider taking care of someone else or comprising on activities (including the amount of shopping you do). You are free to act silly, dance on the side of a road, drink wine with abandon, flirt and laugh until your belly aches. Your responsibilities disappear for a brief time and you can feel as you did when you were a college student — but with the knowledge and appreciation that the years provide to know that this is a very special time.

Cherish the moments while you’re in them

The author and Lauren A. captured in Chefchaouen, Morocco, known as The Blue City. (Photo by Cathy Heath)
The author and Lauren A. captured in The Blue City. (Photo by Cathy Heath)
I’ll admit that I took my fair share of photos on this trip, as the kids say, “for the ‘gram” (Instagram). But we saw more than our fair share of other people during our travels who were more focused on their Instagram feed rather than enjoying the magnificence that was Morocco.
When will you ever have the chance to do things such as trek through the donkey parking lot at the market in Erfoud, have tea with a nomadic Berber family, walk through a garden designed by Yves Saint Laurent, watch a Sahara sunrise, ride on a camel or experience a hammam (a Moroccan spa)? So put down the camera or smartphone and live in the moment.

Bottom line

Taking a trip with 15 other women can be a dicey proposition in the best of circumstances. But the fact that all of us, with our different backgrounds, points of view and more, were able to enjoy 10 days together with no issues speaks volumes. We now have our own Facebook group and WhatsApp chat where we still chat about the marvelous trip. With proper planning, careful curating and a willingness to be open, you can have the same experience.
Featured photo by Trips To Morocco
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