Updated: Oct 13, 2019
The group trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was a trip in and of itself in all ways, good, bad and indifferent. So I'm going to be brief and share with you the lessons I've learned from this trip. Some are obvious, others were surprising.
1. Be very clear when defining the trip and it's intentions.
I kept this trip priced low as heck to accomplish the following:
--A. To encourage international travel to those who don't and give those who do a group experience. --B. To also teach those who have never traveled how to by providing some structure but allowing them freedom to explore as if they were solo traveling.
2. Define continental breakfast and being realistic with the budget.
--We stayed in apartments and I promised breakfast every morning. Continental breakfast, which is essentially croissants, fruit and juice. I was delayed in providing the croissants two of the days, though fruit and juice was available in every apartment. Got it together but by then it was too late. To make up for this I asked for shopping lists and provided everything requested including bacon and eggs, which is not listed as standard for continental breakfast. We did have a group lunch and two group dinners.
3. Don't expect a group of strangers to want to travel the way you travel.
--I tend to stay in apartments because I like the idea of "coming home" after being a tourist all day. Living room, kitchen, all the extras that feel right to me. Others may prefer a hotel room with daily maid service, a roommate, and continental breakfast in the downstairs restaurant.
4. Ensure everyone arrives in a manageable time AND leaves at a reasonable time.
---Originally I stated that there would only be two group arrivals and two group departures but in the spirit of saving folks money I said get here when you can. That was a huge mistake on my part as I had flights arriving in from midnight to midnight for two days. It was exhausting being on standby to ensure that the transportation service was there and fixing things if they were delayed or heck a no-show. Going home wasn't any better.
5. Get in two days early to pre-purchase and inspect.
--Again the two days of waiting on everyone and getting all kinds of lost on our day of arrival set me up for failure. Also inspecting the property would have possibly helped in avoiding challenges such as needing extra keys, towels and toilet paper. Again we were in apartments. Not a hotel. The manager did allow us to check in super early which helped when I had people arriving at midnight the day before and 6am the day of. They also attempted to resolve issues as soon as they popped up.
6. Changing the itinerary.
--Won't ever do this again even if I feel it's the right thing to do. End of story.
After reading this you may think I have nothing positive to say, I do! I got to be around some beautiful women of color, shared a few laughs, made some great memories. Did I make some mistakes, heck yea reread the above. All in all this was interesting; we had 4 half day guided tours, 3 meals, good lodging and transportation to and from the airport for $800. I doubt I ever do another group trip such as this again or at least not as this price point. I'm going to stick to being a Travel Advisor and sending others on group trips and of course Shades Retreat "International". Who coming to Bali with me? I promise you NONE of the issues above will apply because this won't ever happen again.