TRAVELER OF THE MONTH: BRITTANY BULLOCK | OCTOBER 2017
The Traveler of the Month is Ms. Brittany B!
Brittany refers to herself as a faux serial socialite who loves to create unforgettable experiences for travelers all over the world. In the last 10 years she has mastered the art of organizing group trips. From domestic to international travel, bachelor[ette] parties, birthdays and festivals, Brittany has planned it all. She even organized a group trip to Colombia last year for more than 200 black professionals...which is pretty impressive considering most people have trouble making dinner plans for themselves. So if you’re interested in learning all about group travel, or looking for a consultant to plan your next trip, you’ll want to read this! Let's give it up for Brittany!
How long have you been planning trips?
Oh, man! I’m about to show my age. I’ve been planning trips for the last decade. This wasn’t anything I had originally thought of doing for a business, it was just enjoyable to me. Whether it was planning a trip with friends or going to a festival or a conference, I was always behind the logistics.
What social platforms or tools do you use to stay organized?
With every trip I plan, I make a GroupMe page. It’s easier to keep things organized. I utilize the group calendar to keep track of important deadlines, announce when money is due or keep up with flight information. It also helps to build the foundation for the trip. For the Colombia trip I took last year, people were from all over the country. GroupMe allowed us to connect before the trip even started. Some of the members who lived in the same city would meet up at Happy Hours, brunch, and even BBQs to get to know each other.
What’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of group travel?
When most people think of group travel, they think of going somewhere with four or five of their friends. For me, group travel is typically 25 people or more. One of the biggest benefits of traveling with that many people is that it gives you options. If someone is in a bad mood, it can bring everyone else down. However, if there’s 20 people on a trip, and someone is having an attitude, you have 19 other people you can chill with. I also like group trips because you have an opportunity to intermingle and get to know people outside your circle of friends. My trip to Colombia is a perfect example. It started off with 12 people and 200+ people ended up going. I now have friends I can hit up all over the U.S. that I otherwise wouldn’t have met.
I would say one con of group travel is dealing with a lot of personalities. You’ll have to deal with bad or bizarre habits, too. Thankfully, there are more pros than cons. I love attending group trips, especially since there’s such an investment and spotlight on the pro black travel movement. And the more people you can convince to go, the more experiences you get to have. How often do you get to say I shared this experience in Dubai, or wherever, with 30 different strangers?
everyone has that friend who always wants to invite their disagreeable/lame/irritating BFF on the group trip. What happens if your friend wants to invite that annoying or bitchy person on the trip? Can you politely tell them hell to the naw naw naw to the naw naw naw?
If the said annoying friend is not staying in your house or hotel, you can choose to distance yourself. If it’s a smaller trip, and they’re going to be in the same house as you, I think it’s fair to have a conversation upfront. If it’s a person that’s not fun or complains constantly, it’s okay to address it. It’s your time and money, and it’s acceptable to tell your friends, “hey I would prefer we just go with this group of friends.” I think honesty and transparency is key. You can be open with your friends. And sometimes you have to be okay with saying “issa no.” Everyone doesn’t have to be invited to everything! You reserve the right to say, this is my trip, and I have the right to bring who I want.
Is it ever okay to separate from the group?
I’m notorious for leaving people. You don’t have to do everything with everyone. I still don’t understand why some people think they need to put on a full face of makeup on vacation…especially in hotter countries. I didn’t come on vacation to stay in a hotel until two in the afternoon and not make moves. There have been times when my group hasn’t been ready and I’ll say I’m going down the street or to the lobby of the hotel to eat and people watch.
Do you use sites like Trip Advisor to find activities to do? If not, what are some of your favorite sites to use for planning?
Not to sound shady, but Trip Advisor reviews aren’t always for us—the Young Black Millennials. I try to utilize other sources like Melanin Traveler , We Go Too, and Nomadness to post travel questions. The members are extremely helpful. I use the hashtags and the location tab on Instagram, too. A lot of locals turn on their locations when they do different stuff, so I like to see what they’re doing. If someone takes a really dope picture, I want to visit that place. And if they’re eating at a place that the food looks good, I want to go try it. It’s a great way to explore via pictures.
Best Group Trip You’ve Been On?
This one is hard. I will say Colombia, because there were so many people who came on the trip. To have such a presence of professional black engineers, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs and men and women getting their PHDs was amazing. It really showcased what happens when we come together and literally take over a country for a week. And everyone in Colombia embraced us. I never felt uncomfortable. It was nothing but love. We were playing in a volcano one day, having a chef come to our house another day, and renting out nightclubs. There were so many great moments. Someone actually got engaged on the trip. There’s people that met, started dating, and made lifelong friends. It’s one of my favorites and one of the most impactful trips for me.
You know I’m going to ask…any horror stories?
There hasn’t been an experience where I said, “I wish I never came.” I’ll say one of the funniest experiences I’ve encountered was booking the yacht in Colombia. There were about 150 people going on it. Some people asked if they could pay with gift cards.
How would you handle someone annoying you on a trip?
It’s bound to happen when you have any type of group trip. I also have to remember that the person I am can be very monotone or sassy at the same time. Just like everyone else, I’m also an adjustment. For the most part, I think it just depends on the relationship you have with that person. If it’s a friend of a friend, you should tell your comrade that their guest is messing up the vibe and make sure everything is okay. And I think if your close friend is being difficult, it’s more than feasible to pull them to the side and be like, “hey what’s going on!?” You never know. Trips are supposed to be escapes for people but they may have other things going on in their personal lives that makes it hard for them to focus on having fun, especially if they have to take care of some responsibilities when they return home. They may have to go back to a horrible job or a cheating spouse. I think the more open and honest you can be with people on a vacation is better.
Let’s talk about budgets! How do you determine a budget for a trip?
This is a huge one for me that I try to be mindful of. I always keep in mind that everyone’s pockets aren’t the same. People make the mistake of going on these exotic vacations and spending $4000+ on a trip which doesn’t even cover their airfare. I believe you can plan something yourself for half that price…or you can pay me to plan your trips for reasonable fee. I’m a fan of trying to get as many group discounts as you can. I’ll directly reach out to vendors to negotiate prices. I’ll typically let people know the average costs of flights, housing, food and try to build a budget around that. I always try to pitch a low-end, mid-end, and high-end options. I always ask upfront what’s your budget. I need to know if you’re trying to be Frugal Freddy, in the Middle Martha, or Ball out like Diddy. And sometimes the high-end options save money. In Dubai we went to this expensive brunch ($130 per person). It was one of the more expensive things we did, but as much stuff as it covered, it was totally worth the experience.Paying for things in advance also make a difference. In Cuba, we had a boat excursion in another city. People got on the boat asking about the cost. Everyone was excited when they learned the cost had already been covered. It was an entire day on the trip they didn’t have to spend money because they paid in advance.
is it every okay to cancel a trip last minute and still expect a full refund?
As much of a control freak that I think I am and other people probably assume that I am, I don’t really have rules about it. There’s common courtesy. I’ll always try to work with someone. There are certainly things that are out of control like getting a new job or a family emergency. In those circumstances, I’ll try to compromise. If someone can’t go because they just don’t want to, or they broke up with their boyfriend/girlfriend, I’m like you’re just out of your money.
Do you have a preference between girl’s trips and co-ed trips?
So, I got this from my friend Steph. She calls girl’s trips, tit’s trips. And I love a good tit’s trip. As black women, it’s great to bond and just kick it with your girls. However, because some of my closest friends are men, I love having them on trips. I still want to bond and make memories with them, too. I want to be like, “remember in Colombia when you got Volcano dust in your boxers!?” I think it also brings another dynamic when it’s co-ed. If those are your close friends, and you’re having a good time, you’re not going to be focused on their sex.
Some advice for travelers taking their first group trip?
I think my number one advice is to be open to the experience. You should sit back and understand you’re experiencing something in a new way. You might learn a lesson, or find out you never want to take another group trip, or don’t want to go on a group trip with a particular person.Also realize you can’t automatically judge people. Not everyone is the same or behaves the same way. As long as it’s not impacting you in a harmful or threatening way, let them enjoy themselves. If someone wants to get it in, let that person live. It’s none of your business, and just keep it moving. If someone wants to turn up, let them turn up how they want to turn up. Just be excited, try to have a good time, leave your judgment and tears at home. Be more concerned about learning something new.
Top 3 things to bring on a group trip other than apparel and swimwear?
Medicine and bug spray. A lot of people forget to pack it, but some bugs can be the size of birds depending on where you are. You also don’t know how you will react to the food in a foreign country, and not all medicine is easily accessible. I also always tell people to bring their “adult items”, birth control, condoms, etc. for getting it in. It’s not a taboo thing to hook up on a trip. If you’re single and have any intentions that you might be getting it in, bring some protection. It’s okay to have fun, but don’t get lost in the sauce and come back like Usher.
How can my readers find you?
For travel tips and consultation, please reach out via Instagram or visit my website. And if you’re visiting Cuba in the near future, I created a Cuban travel guide. Please contact me for more information.