It’s summer, exams are finished, and university is over for however long depending on what year you’re in. If you’ve decided to get involved in the social side of university, then there’s a chance that you’ve joined a society or sports team and perhaps committed enough to go on their summer trip. Whether you’re a first year about to go away for your first society holiday with your new-found friends, a second year who’s making the most of their penultimate summer, or a third year enjoying their final months of university. This blog post is here to give you some tips and tricks on how to survive a society holiday, the advice given is common sense, and was inspired by the happenings on the Classical Society’s summer trip to Budapest.
1. Make sure you’re a member of the society.
By this I mean, make sure you’ve paid your membership! Most Student Union’s require that societies who organise a summer tour make sure that members going on the trip are registered/ paid members for insurance purposes! This is really a tip for the society committee organising the trip so that they can keep on the SU’s good side.
2. Tour T-shirts!
These are a fun way of getting the group in the holiday mood, and are a cool keepsake from the trip. This year our society offered members going on the trip the opportunity to buy a t-shirt, which had a tour logo on it, and a nickname on the back (costing around £10). Members either chose their own nickname, or allowed a select group to come up with a funny nickname. I was part of the group deciding the nicknames and had a lot of fun coming up with funny nicknames for my friends, and it was fun walking around Budapest wearing them.
3.Get travel insurance.
This is sage advice given by any Trips Officer worth their salt, or to students who are planning a society or group holiday in general. Travel insurance for a week away in Europe costs between £5 and £6 so you’d be mad not to get it, you may not need it, but if you do find yourself in trouble or needing medical help you’ll be glad that you spent that £5 in order to cover the costs. Also before Brexit is enforced – DON’T FORGET YOUR EHIC CARD! This allows you to receive medical treatment at a hospital within the EU, at a reduced rate and protects you again from extortionate medical expenses!
4. Accidents happen…
Following on from the previous point, accidents can happen. The only way to be prepared for the unexpected is to first have travel insurance and EHIC card, the second is to have a committee member who is first aid trained. This person happened to be me on my trip to Budapest this year, and this came in handy when a couple of our society members had a little too much to drink…
This year a member collapsed from drinking too much, I waited with them to be taken away in an Ambulance, only to find out I couldn’t go with them. It was a very stressful night, but thankfully they had travel insurance and the next morning got themselves back to the hostel feeling a lot better for having their stomach pumped. No one expected that this would happen and I don’t think my friend had planned on visiting a Hungarian hospital either!
Later in the week a member broke their wrist after jumping off a beer bike, proving that accidents can happen on holiday when you least expect it and in the weirdest scenarios. Be prepared and take care of yourself!
5. Look out for each other!
It’s important for your group to stay connected during the trip, so for our trip to Budapest we created a group chat on Facebook messenger which allowed us to communicate all the time, admittedly this got annoying with some over-excited gif sharing and drunk messaging. But when we needed to organise our activities, or if we really needed to track each other down then we knew we could reach each other on the group chat.
Keeping in touch remotely is useful, but making sure you stick together when out and about is also really important. Given the nature of group holidays, which involve a lot of frivolity and drinking, it’s easy to get carried away and to forget someone if you’re changing locations during a night out. This unfortunately happened to someone on our holiday and it was stressful for them, luckily they managed to find their way back to the hostel, but it wasn’t a great experience. It’s important to look out for each other and make sure you’ve got everyone with you before you move on to a different bar or club, if you lose someone go back to the last place you were with them. Don’t leave people behind!
6. Talk to everyone on the trip
It’s a society holiday and that probably means you are friends with most people on the trip, or at the very least have a vague idea of who’s going on the trip. Naturally friend groups and couples tend to stick together, however it’s a good idea to get to know everyone on the trip if the group is of a reasonable size. A holiday is the perfect time to get to know new people. If you’ve been on the periphery of the society for the past year and just joined in for a few of the society’s socials before the trip, the trip will be a great way to get to know society members better.
Dynamics in the group may shift and change over the week as new friendships grow and with the nature of group travel some friendships may be tested. Either way immerse yourself in the group, make yourself open and get involved!
7. Let people do their own thing
Yes you’re on a society holiday and you want to go walk around the European city you’ve landed in as a collective in order to make the most of it. But you don’t have to do everything together, people will naturally group off and do their own thing. Yes it’s a society holiday, but it’s also everyone’s holiday too, so let them do what they want to do.
Also if you’re a big group trying to eat out together will be a logistical nightmare as most places won’t cater for groups bigger than 8-1o people. If you can arrange to have a proper meal together great, perhaps try breaking down into smaller groups and sitting close to each other at the same restaurant, or just plan to have drinks together. This was a bit of a headache on our first evening in Budapest when we all came together wanting to go out to eat, I showed the group Octogon where all the junk food places were, and was met with a wall of unimpressed faces. We then walked back the way we came to a street of restaurants before dispersing into smaller groups, but this involved a lot of faffing. Faffing is one of the side-effects of group travel, just putting it out there, so be patient with people!
(Sorting out where to go for dinner on the first night)
Some people may want to party every night and others will want to make the most of the daytime to explore the city. Whatever you like to do on holiday is your choice, and you don’t have to feel obligated to join in every group activity.
8. Remember you’re all adults..
You’re university students, that means whatever you do you’re responsible for yourself.
As I said before accidents may happen and the freedom of being on holiday can get the better of people, especially if this is their first time on holiday without their parents. You or your friends may get up to some really cool, really funny or really silly things whilst on holiday, but at the end of the day you are responsible for yourself. If you find yourself in trouble your friends will help you, but make sure you let your friends know where you are and what you’re doing especially on nights out.
9. Have fun!
Make the most of it, society trips are huge amounts of fun and you’ll return home with loads of funny stories and have had a great time with all your friends.
My trip to Budapest with the Classical Society was my first and last, but it was the best way to end my final year at university. I spent the week enjoying Budapest for a second time, hanging out with some great people and developed new friendships with a couple of people on the trip, which really made it for me.
Whatever you want from your society trip, whether it’s to go out and get wasted every night, go out on the pull, explore a new city, spend time with friends or to make new ones, you can make it happen on your society trip. At the end of the day it’s your trip too and whatever you get up to will (hopefully) be the highlights of your university experience!
Photography credit given to Andrew Jones and other members of RHUL Classical Society 2016.