Now, y’all know I am all for solo travel, but back in August 2016, when my homegirl invited me to go with her to Carnival in Jamaica with a group of friends, I was all for it. It turned out to be the best trip I’ve been on so far. Here I am, thirteen weeks and six days later after leaving paradise and coming down from the Cloud 9 that is Bacchanal Carnival, STILL with this same lingering feeling of tabanca (the deep longing and sadness that comes after a separation–what Trinidadians use to describe the feeling after Carnival is over), STILL blasting Soca music during my workouts, and STILL trying to speak patois. That’s how much fun I had, and I can definitely attribute a big part of the reason why I enjoyed it so much to the group of ladies who were there with me. Not only were we pretty wired up for the whole trip, but we set our minds on the fact that whatever happened, we were in Jamaica and and we wouldn’t let anything get in the way of having a positive experience and viiiiibbbeees! Although this was my first group trip, I’ve been on vacations with others before, and I’ve come to understand that the people I choose to go with are just as important as the destination itself. Now, of course, I make the choice to enjoy my vacation regardless of what happens, but the people who are with me can either make it easier or more difficult to do so. When it comes down to group travel, the troupe makes the trip!
Do Invite: The Free Spirit
This is the person who tries that weird fish dish, the one who you see talking to the locals about their culture or trying to pick up their language. Not only is this person easy to get along with and a breath of fresh air to the group, but their willingness to soak it all up shows just how grateful they are to have the opportunity to be able to see other parts of the world. With this optimism, they keep the group’s spirits up, and makes others want to explore more, too!
Don’t Invite: The Negative Nancy
If you want the best travel experience within your group setting, you might want to leave Negative Nancy back at home. You know, the one who complains about everything that goes wrong? The pessimistic one who always seems bothered by the slightest complication? Yeah, her. The last thing you want is for her attitude to impeded on your fun, especially after you ALL dropped money on the travel expenses to be there. And I get it: we love our girl, and we want her to enjoy the trip as well, but damn. Is it not enough to be in a new city, with new faces, new people to meet, new boo things to scope out, and new experiences to have with a group of your homegirls there with you?
Do Invite: The Accountability Person/People
You gotta love the one who looks out for the group to make sure that everyone is there in one piece and that no one misses the bus or flight to the next destination. The one who watches your drink when you’re talking to that guy at the bar? The one you send your location to when you’re out with him just in case you need the squad to ride out and come set if off? Yeah, that girl. Not only is she extremely dependable and good-hearted, but she understands that safety is important to having fun, as well.
Don’t Invite: The Person Who Can’t Leave Work Alone
You know, the one who is still accepting work calls? The one who just cannot relax because they are keyed up about something going on at work? Yeah, that person. The one chance they get to be completely oblivious to the grind at home, and they blow it. What’s worse than their constant complaints about work when they should be forgetting about its existence, is the fact they don’t notice how self-absorbed this can be. We don’t care to hear about the numbers being down or your coworker getting the assignment wrong, we want to enjoy the trip!
Do Invite: The Organizer
This is the girl who’s got everything on LOCK. For my Jamaica trip, my homegirl Doreen was our organizer, and I honestly don’t know what we would’ve done without her. Since she’s Jamaican, she had the connects, the numbers to call for transportation, and the schedule mapped out, and she still managed to have a good time. You have to appreciate that person in the group who keeps everything and everybody in the loop and knows how to think on her feet when things go left.
Don’t Invite: The Stickler
Unlike the Accountability Person who knows how to let loose and have fun, this person is rigid and linear to a fault. You know, she only wants to try the food she’s used to back home, gets overly anxious about something she’s not familiar with, or scowls her face at all the little cultural differences along the way. News flash: when you’re in a new city, most things will not be familiar. Live a little. Try that weird looking dish, dance in that drum circle with the locals, do something on the beach other than just sunbathing, and roll with the punches if something doesn’t go as planned. After all, who wants to come back from a trip and not have stories to tell?
Don’t Invite: The One Who Disrespects The Culture
Oooo, this one right here. This person could get you guys in trouble. Especially if you are going into a “third world country” or an area whose people have less opportunity than you have at home, the last thing you want to do is come in wielding your privilege and ignorance around. “Well back where I’m from we don’t…” (SLAP) News flash, you’re not home. Wear the head covering when you go into the mosque, take your shoes off when you go into the temple, and please don’t talk about how much “better” things are done in the states. Just because someone’s way of life doesn’t make sense to you, does not make yours “better.” Be humble and get out of your own one-sided perception.