Yaxchilan and Bonampak, México
The tall young man ambles onto the tour van and plops down on a long double seat, draping his backpack on the open space beside him. At the breakfast stop, he is missing when it is time to depart, and everyone has to wait several minutes while the driver goes searching for him. He turns out to be standing by the road in front of the restaurant.
At the Yaxchilan ruins, he is quick to ask me to take his picture in front of the first building. He offers to take my photo, as is customary. A couple minutes later, he asks me to take another one. And as we get separated, he soon approaches others who came with us in the van.
At the lunch stop, the young man sits apart from the rest of the group. The restaurant manager has to implore him to sit with us at our reserved table.
When last I see him, he is waiting for the van that will take him across to Guatemala to Flores and Tikal. I’m not sure he’s going to make it there.
Adapting to a group can be difficult for solo travelers used to going their own way. There’s an etiquette to follow. Day tours are an inevitable compromise for independent travelers. Sometimes they are the only way to get where you want to go, such as the remote Yaxchilan and Bonampak ruins in Chiapas, México. Adapting to a group can be difficult for solo travelers used to going their own way. There’s an etiquette to follow.
The Van. Let’s begin with the transportation. The basic group tour van has several rows of seats, with bench seats for two people on the driver’s side (left) and single seats on the other side (right). There’s a long back row, as well. Solo travelers should take the single seats, unless they are already occupied. That way the people traveling together can sit with each other.
Solo travelers also should be punctual to the van after meal or bathroom breaks. You don’t want to keep people waiting — and you don’t want to be left behind. If you’re going to be late to the van, make sure it’s for something special. Go check out that last ruin, but be quick about it.
Photos. It’s okay for solo travelers to ask people to take their pictures. Be sure to offer to take their photos in return. And don’t overdo it.
Meals. Many day tours have a lunch break. Typically, the group will stop at the same place as other tours, particularly in remote places. If the meal is a buffet, sit wherever you can, but within view of others on your tour. That way you will know when they’re leaving. If it is a restaurant meal, sit at the table reserved for your group. Make it easy on the restaurant staff.
Make nice with your fellow travelers. You don’t have to talk with them, but you might meet some nice people if you do. Keep in mind, it’s their tour, as well.
Featured photo: Yaxchilan ruins, Chiapas.