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On a backpacking trip with multiple people, it is all but guaranteed that disagreements will arise. Pace, food, wake-up times, route and chores are some of the common sources of friction.

Backpacking can be a special set of circumstances for a couple of reasons

  • You can't just leave an annoying person behind.
  • It's hard to hide your rough sides, for one thing after a couple of days you will all be rather smelly
  • You will be in pretty close proximity to the rest of the group
  • Backpacking can be stressful, long days, aching feet, feeling tired, having a hard time adjusting to the outdoors.
  • Everyone is dependent to some degree on everyone else.

When disagreements arise, what are some good practices for resolving them?

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    Not answering what to do once disagreements arise, but the key to minimize disagreements and their impact is to make sure beforehand that everyone agrees on the objectives. Are we here to learn? To accomplish a tangible goal (summit a peak, trek a certain route in a certain time) or simple having fun? If one member wants to set a speed record and another is after good photography, you are set for trouble. – Guran Feb 24 '17 at 10:04
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    On a lighter note, this question reminds me of this scene from Pirates of the Caribbean :) – user812786 Feb 24 '17 at 15:44
  • One with the gun wins :-) (Kidding) – WedaPashi Feb 26 '17 at 5:11
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I think the most important thing is that you set expectations prior to the trip. Everyone should be on the same page about the planned route, schedule, meals, etc. Of course, planning is different from doing, so you need a social structure to determine how to handle disputes en route.

One option is to pick a leader who is experienced both with backpacking and handling disagreements. Everyone knows to go to the leader to mediate problems. This gives the group structure and alleviates tensions between the rest of the group. This is best in groups where there's a clear choice (one person much more experienced, adults leading a group of teens, etc.) both so nobody's feelings get hurt and so their decisions are respected.

Another option is to rotate leadership. Let one person lead the trail on day one, another on day two - everyone gets time in the hot seat. This is best when everyone has similar levels of experience. You could also do this with smaller tasks, e.g. have a troop leader who is ultimately responsible but let the kids take turns navigating.

If your group is large enough, split up into sub-groups. For example, on one trip we switched canoe partners each day. So even if we got annoyed with someone, we would only have to put up with them for a day.

Finally, give people room for downtime. Maybe it's just the introvert in me, but after spending a few days in close quarters with other people and feeling smelly, everything can get on my nerves. Sitting quietly on a rock by myself for a few minutes does wonders to recalibrate.

  • This is a good answer about avoiding disagreements, however in my experience they are inevitable, so could you expand your answer to include how to resolve them? – Reinstate Monica Feb 24 '17 at 19:53
  • The trips I have been on we avoided major issues with the tactics I described, actually! (It may have helped they were beginner-level.. I do more solo trips now.) I think it would be similar to general resolution techniques: talk to the person you have an issue with, take it to a third party (leader), take a vote. I'll think on it though. – user812786 Feb 26 '17 at 2:22
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In the group there should be one leader. This is the most experienced person.

This person responsible for the route planning, amount of food required also this person checks equipment and cloth required for the trip and decide who take what.

Leader should be able detect when group is tired and when to stop for a night\make a camp.

Leader should be able detect if a member does not feel good and he\she takes decision what to do in emergency situation.

  • An experienced person would normally be the leader, but the most experienced person need not be the leader, and may not be a good leader. The most important thing is the group follow the leadership of whoever is chosen. – user5330 Feb 25 '17 at 7:17

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