OhThePlacesKiWillGo

Group Travel: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Hey Travelers!

You’ve saved your money. You’re sick of seeing Instagram posts with dope captions and scenery. Your passport has been looking real uneventful and that’s it–YOU’RE READY TO TAKE A TRIP!

Back in 2016, I was going through what I deemed a “quarter-life-crisis” and decided I wanted to take my travels to another level. I secured a part-time job and stacked my money for five months so that I could make travel my top hobby all 2017. Then it hit me…

“Who would I take these trips with?”

I was single at the time and you know how it goes when trying to plan travel with friends:

“Oh girl I can’t get off work” 

“My bad sis, I just had to get my car fixed” 

“I can’t find anyone to watch my kids”

…RIGHT before the trip is slated to start!

The Good 

A good friend knew exactly what I was going through and she suggested I create a Meet Up account. MeetUp is not a dating site. It’s a website where you meet local people who encourage you to do more of what you love.

It was then that I discovered Young Blacks Who Travel (20s and 30s). This group became the catalyst for my consistent travel journey.

I’ve been to seven countries with the group: Brazil, Thailand, Croatia, Italy, Vietnam, Singapore and Spain!

Ms. Torri, founder of the group, has become a great friend of mine and I constantly let her know what she did for me and my travel journey. I am so proud of her, her travel group now boasts over 4,257 members!

I wanted to virtually introduce you all to Torri, a Travel Queen who has changed the travel lives of so many!

I asked her a few questions, beginning with what led to her creating the group. Here’s how she answered:

“It has always been my dream to travel the world. When I was finally financially able, I found that none of my close friends and family either had the desire or the funds to join me. As a newbie to traveling, I was afraid of going alone and initially I looked for groups in my area and to no avail. So I just made the decision as a last ditch effort before I started traveling on my own. It was one of the best decisions I ever made for myself.”

Next, I asked her to give a couple highlights since the group’s inception in 2014 and she added:

“The highlights for me are the trips we have taken that are completely out of the norm of what most travelers (especially black) would consider. This would include sailing around the country of Turkey on a traditional gullet or going skiing in Bulgaria.”

The Bad 

I have nothing but good things to say about my YBTT travel experience, but understand, group travel may not be for you.

“Do you constantly need your hand held when traveling?” Seek otherwise. 

“Do you not have an open mind? Prefer for everyone in a group to want to do the SAME thing?” Seek otherwise. 

“Are you a cheap traveler?” Seek otherwise. 

“Don’t enjoy meeting completely new people and would prefer if people solely reach out to you first?” SEEK OTHERWISE!

I say this from a place of love, but seriously. If you aren’t ready to experience new people and experiences, take it slow and maybe try a solo trip first :-). Otherwise, get ready for lifetime memories and forever friendships!

The Ugly 

I wanted to take a quick trip to kick off my 30th birthday weekend and go somewhere I had never been. A friend recommended that I check out Nx Level Travel for their June 2019 Costa Rica trip and I wish he hadn’t.

When I looked up the trip, I was intrigued and immediately wanted to go! I always wanted to go to Costa Rica and it was the perfect amount of time for me. I looked up the hotel the group was staying at and noticed the trip was about $200 more versus if I booked it own my own. The total proposed price of the trip was $550. I used the group’s website to validate the premium pricing and this is what I found (everything listed below was said to be included):

Two things led me to feel confident about booking this trip; the roundtrip airport transfer and the inclusion of Daily Activities and Nightly Entertainment. I was sure that the “Daily Activities” simply meant activities provided by the resort, but after being recommended the trip by a friend who specifically mentioned having exclusive access to parties, I concluded this is what was meant by Nightly Entertainment. This was information on the travel group’s website, not the resort! 

A month before the trip, travelers were sent an itinerary for the trip. All of the parties sounded dope! It was my cousin, however, who brought to my attention the fees associated with each party.

*Scratches head*

The parties ranged from $40-100 and I was completely thrown off.I immediately wanted to know exactly what the “Nightlife Entertainment” included in the trip was. I sent the group director a straightforward email asking him that and the response was both defensive and condescending. For transparency, I included my email to him as well, see below: 

Not only was my question completely avoided, but when I ironically brought up the same link that was provided in the reply and mention of Daily Activities and Nightly Entertainment, I was met with silence.

I was left with no choice but to resolve the matter with my credit card company and file a dispute. Chase agreed that the trip was misrepresented and asked that I officially ask for a refund in order for them to be able to move forward with the dispute. Take a look at the reply I received:

Listen, I’m 30. I’ve done business with many companies, been employed in many customer service roles and I’ve NEVER been spoken to like this. EVER. I read this email and my mouth dropped. Literally!

This email was not only aggressive, defensive and condescending, but he further avoided my fair and simple question regarding the inclusion of Daily Nightlife Entertainment, per his website and description of the vacation.

So, in the end, you guessed it. I WON. I was fully refunded for the entire trip, but it gets better.

The total cost of the trip was $550 but my cousin and I were able to rebook the same exact hotel and book 2 excursions, (one that included a full day of transportation, ziplining, horseback riding and white water rafting AND a catamaran cruise that included unlimited drinks, a delicious dinner and water activities on the Pacific) and our own roundtrip airport transportation for $580…a month before the trip!

I went back and forth with sharing this experience with you all. I did get my money back, and it’s technically over for me, but I decided one of the many purposes of this blog is to share my experiences with you and help you along your way.

P.S. Costa Rica was awesome! I will be doing a trip write up on that vacation shortly.

I want you all to #SeeSomeWorld, and take advantage of the reputable travel groups that will both get you passport stamps AND travel friends, but be smart and be mindful!

Thanks for reading!

XO, 

Ki 

Final Tips: 

  1. Credit is Your Friend When Booking Travel. When I went through my credit card dispute, my little cousin and I filed claims simultaneously and had two totally different experiences. She booked some of her trip on her debit card and the bank initially told her there was nothing they could do. Meanwhile, Chase offered empathy and superior customer service. In addition to earning big rewards, you score important travel protections, such as with my experience! 
  2. Do Your Research, Then Ask Questions. Any time your spending a lot of money, it’s okay to be annoying. No, I’m not suggesting that you ask “what hotel we staying at,” when the information is posted in black and white on the website, I’m suggesting that you take the trip’s itinerary and conduct your own market research, get a good idea of what the pricing SHOULD be and then ask questions if there’s a significant upcharge. It’s then up to you to decide if it’s worth it.
  3. Connect With Travelers In the Group. There is no better evidence then personal testimony. Seek travelers who have traveled with the group you plan on traveling with and ask them straight up about their experience. And keep in mind, what’s important to them may not be important to you.
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12 thoughts on “Group Travel: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

  1. Geli

    This was enlightening! I plan on starting my travel journey soon. I’ll be tuning in to learn from your experience. Thanks, sis!

    1. Ki Post author

      Hi Geli…thanks so much! Traveling is a wonderful part of life, sometimes we just need others to help start the journey and tag along. I can’t wait to hear about your experiences 🙂

  2. Kim Hall

    Great advice and that price you got for Costa Rica was great! I plan to start shopping for Costa Rica packages ASAP!

    1. Ki Post author

      Hey! Thank you….you will LOVE Costa Rica! It’s so cheap and so much to do, so much adventure!

  3. Granny~J

    Hi Kiara, my 4th was quiet and relaxing at home.☺️It’s good thing you double checked! I guess they didn’t know who they were dealing with😂I’m glad you got your money back! I just love reading about your travels.

    1. Ki Post author

      Hi! So glad to hear you had a happy 4th 🙂 I have to give credit to Dajona for double checking, but yes it’s a good thing she did and that we were able to turn this experience around. The overall treatment that group provided was terrible. I am glad you love reading about my travels, I have some BIG plans for the rest of 2019 and really appreciate your support XOXO!

  4. Meka

    Wow this was an interesting article… I never thought about traveling in groups like that!! Thank you for sharing your experience and the great tips.

    1. Ki Post author

      You are so welcome! Thanks for reading and for your comments…My DMV Travel Group really changed the game for me and I have put plenty of friends on to the group. It’s so frustrating when you’re ready to travel but can’t find someone to get that passport stamp with you!

  5. Dajona

    I most definitely recommend using Credit over Debit for travel, I used both paying for this trip. When trying to dispute the charges, my bank gave me a hard time and weren’t very helpful, and my credit card company was the complete opposite. Lesson learned, I still completely enjoyed my first international trip to Costa Rica…Besides Copa Airlines breaking my brand new suitcase 🙃, thanks Fav again for the invite!

    1. Ki Post author

      Yes! We enjoyed the trip and we got the funds back & then some. Copa Airlines is definitely canceled! I’m so happy to have shared this first international experience with you. We turned lemons into lemonade 🙂

  6. Dionne Nelson

    May I ask how were you able to get such an amazing price for your costa Rica trip? Like did you use another company or did you just find that it was cheaper to go without a group?
    The price point you got, for all the stuff you were able to do, was great. I want to do that as well

    1. Ki Post author

      Hey Dionne! 🙂

      Thanks for your comments!

      I didn’t use another company, I just did research before I booked my excursions. My favorite sites to use for activities are Viator, GetYourGuide & even AirB&B has experiences available. I usually use the 3 websites to compare pricing and of course read reviews. Viator & GetYourGuide are pretty good with offering promo codes. AND Ebates usually offers cash back, so it’s a win-win! Yes…the price point was awesome and the trip was the perfect balance of adventure and relaxation. If you have any further questions, let me know. You will LOVE Costa Rica!

      -Ki

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XO,

Ki

 

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