Traveling solo or with a friend can be fun, but it can also be expensive. A budget-friendly solution to consider before hitting the road is traveling with a group. Affinity group travel, which typically consists of 10 or more like-minded people heading to the same destination, is often cheaper than traveling alone or with just a few people. Using their collective bargaining power, group members can receive discounts on tickets and lodging, plus gain access to advantages such as flexible travel arrangements. Groups can also often get last-minute flight and accommodation deals, whether booking through a travel agency or independently.
Save on Flights.
Members of a travel group can save on airfare when flying together to a common destination. While some airlines offer special group fares, many provide group members a standard discount, usually between 5 and 10 percent, as long as 10 or more people book the same flight. American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, for instance, offer a 5 percent group travel discount on published fares. Southwest Airlines grants one round-trip airfare free of charge for every 30th passenger in a group, plus special discounts off published fares. JetBlue does not guarantee a discount but may offer one for groups of 20 or more. Special rates and discounts vary according to the type of travel group, time of year, and destination, and not every airline offers a deal.
Save on Trip Packages.
In addition to organizing the group's trip, travel agencies can score discounts and special ticket rates for a larger group. Liberty Travel finds the cheapest airfare for groups in addition to offering payment plans for group travelers, a perk that's not usually extended for travelers who fly by themselves.
Save on Road and Rail Travel.
Bus and train tickets can also be cheaper for group travelers. Amtrak discounts fares for travel groups of 20 or more, giving those who travel together to the same destination a 10 percent discount on their train tickets.
Save on Lodging.
Travel groups booking several rooms in the same hotel on the same night can get a generous discount on each room booked. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts offers a discount to groups needing multiple rooms per night, though discounts can change depending on the season and number of rooms booked. Group travelers can also cut lodging costs the old-fashioned way -- by sharing rooms or suites.
Many people join a travel group for the money-saving perks but also a host of other reasons, such as safety or companionship. Travel groups help travelers reach and explore a destination without having to worry about logistics or language barriers. The organizers also take care of accommodations and itineraries, allowing travelers to enjoy themselves stress-free.
Joining a Travel Group.
There are travel groups for almost every interest and type of traveler, including groups for women, students, and different nationalities, many with their own websites. Travelers can also connect through Meetups and online matchmaking services for solo travelers. Many clubs require membership dues, which cover the costs of meetings and other expenses. Some travel groups also require each member to have travel insurance, which can cover emergency medical care and any expenses resulting from lost luggage or a stolen passport. As with all insurance policies, rates for travel insurance
vary according to destination, total cost of the trip, trip duration, and the traveler's age.
Related: 20 Mistakes Americans Make When Traveling Abroad