How To Find Solo Time on Group Trips

Need your space when traveling en masse? Socialites and introverts alike all need a little solo time to recharge. Here are easy ways to politely find your own space while still enjoying parties on the road, group meals, events, activities, and hoopla.

A family reunion, bachelor party, or weekend getaway group agenda doesn’t always have to be your agenda. One thing rings true on group trips, especially family reunions. There can be a lot of hanging out time or slower pace in doing things to accommodate for the slowest group member and herding the troops. After a couple of days, finding ways to get some personal space is just fine. Good friends or family should understand. Many will likely copycat your actions (or have already scheduled solo time for themselves). It’s quite natural.

So, take that leap. Get the most out of any group vacation by returning relaxed (not revved) using these tips, ideas, and resources.

1. iPod independence: Bring iPod, put earpieces in ears, close your eyes and tune out others and into yourself. Shuffle or create a travel play list ahead of time. Play list ideas:
i. songs that inspire you
ii. songs that fit the mood of the destination you’re visiting
iii. work-out songs for running along that Caribbean beach
iv. comedy acts downloaded
v. walking tours downloaded (see podcast tours below)

2. Podcast tours are a growing trend in travel sightseeing, a new way for individuals to absorb the rich history, culture, and get insider tips for exploring.
i. Lonely Planet - free, regular podcasts
ii. Soundwalk - off the beaten path urban tours, must be purchased and downloaded to computer one by one
iii. Orbitz launched Insider Podcasts, available for download via iTunes and Orbitz.com
iv. Other podcasts can be found on various topics on iTunes

3. Journal. Who wouldn’t respect your request for a little alone time to jot down memories, thoughts, rants, raves of the trip?

4. Arts and crafts: Draw, paint, knit or whittle. So much scenery, so little time. So many crafts to make, as well.

5. Comforts of home: Bring at least one comfort of home along on your trip… animal slippers, aromatherapy candle, your favorite bubble bath, nail polish for painting your toes or nails (men, feel free to do the same if that’s your bent)

6. Books: Most people bring books for plane rides, down time between transfers, and down time in general. A basic for down time which can double as nap time if you read with sunglasses (no one will be the wiser if you position your book and head on a pillow just so). How about books with Sudoko, crossword puzzles, and other mind games? Or are you the trashy romance novel type? John Grisham or Michael Crichton fanatic?

7. Dog therapy: When retreating temporarily at any group event, nothing’s better than throwing a stick for a dog or taking pouch for a walk. Your companion doesn’t require conversation and will be loyal all day.

8. Yoga or jogging: Yes, two polar opposites on the yin yang spectrum of energy, but both can give you the same thing – time to yourself while staying fit.

9. Just say NO. While the main objective of any group trip is to be together, taking time for yourself shouldn’t catapult feelings of guilt into your conscience. Learn the delicate art of politely declining for certain activities.

10. Space out. Walk the city, beach, destination and let your thoughts and imagination be your guide. One of the most relaxing elements of travel can be finding quiet time to ponder your current situation (career, lifestyle, health, relationships) or simply letting go of it all and fully immersing yourself in the now to contemplate lapping waves, patterns in the sand, or the origins of Pina Coladas. Our uber tuned-in lives taking over every waking moment (even podcast tours can be invasive if your vacation goal is to fully relax without much stimulus).

11. Contact home base. Step away from the group to stay in touch with kids, family, others at home. Lifehacker comments on a USA Today article that highlights how easy it is becoming to call home from abroad. Even if you’re traveling in the U.S. with easy access to a phone, you may be able to use “an urgent phone call” as an excuse to duck out of a group event. The group can head off for hiking that day while you meet up with them after a tall, cool beer and the paper.


Jocelyn Milici has worked in online travel for over eight years, including five years managing content at Expedia, and is currently a freelance writer/editor and blogger for www.triphub.com, which focuses on group travel.