Planning a trip can be nearly as fun as taking the trip itself. You research where to go, what to see, where to stay, and what to eat. You want that excitement you feel when planning a trip to continue until long after you return.
It’s one thing if you’re traveling solo or with one other person.
You can pretty much do what you want when you want to. But if you’re planning to travel with a group, the process becomes more complex.
There’s no reason planning a group vacation and taking one can’t be fun, though. It will require a little more effort, but you can come up with a trip everyone will enjoy. Here are a few tips for planning a group vacation that won’t fall through.
Start Early and Pick a Leader
Solo travelers who can just pick up and go reap the benefits of last-minute deals on transportation and accommodations.
However, traveling in a group means beginning the process early, or some of your plans may be foiled. The more opinions you’re dealing with, the sooner you should get started.
The planning process should be democratic, and every vote should count. Still, it’s smart to pick one person to orchestrate the process in order to keep things on track. Just remember it’s not that person’s job to actually do everything.
Individual tasks can be delegated to those with the time, skills, or talents to do them. If you have a foodie in the group, for example, they could take the lead on researching restaurants.
Then they report back to the group, where final decisions are made.
Set a Budget
There are two great reasons for setting an overall budget from the outset. First, it will give anyone who can’t afford it the opportunity to bow out gracefully before you get too far along.
Second, it will help keep planning focused and realistic.
One way to keep a tight budget is having all the expenses run through one person that everyone can then pay back later. For example, someone willing to handle transactions can use their debit card like one from Chime to make and track electronic payments. That way you can track exactly how much everything costs, and figuring out how much everyone owes after will be easy.
There are also other budgetary issues to consider, such as how you will pay for dining. You need to deal fairly with both the diner who orders the prix fixe meal and the one who eats only a salad.
Remember that restaurants appreciate groups that request one check, so work out how you’ll divide things up before you go.
Establish Some Ground Rules for Planning Meetings
To keep planning meetings productive, establish a few ground rules everyone can agree on. This might include setting a meeting schedule, observing time limits, and having everyone put their phones away for the duration. It could also include where you’re meeting and who brings what to eat and drink.
Without a doubt, group dynamics can be challenging. You have assertive and quiet folk, know-it-alls and rookies, the well-traveled and the less-traveled. It will help to choose a leader who can facilitate an equal voice among everyone.
Planning the trip should be fun and exciting. Encourage brainstorming and discourage judgment. Everyone will have an opinion, but in the end, everyone should be on the same page.
Decide How You’ll Get There and How You’ll Get Around
Transportation is a key factor in planning a successful group vacation, especially if you’re flying. It’s easier for people to make their own flight arrangements. But how can you all still sit together on a flight?
If you’re winging your way to Europe, are you all on the same flight or different ones? If your group is spread out, everyone could fly to the same domestic airport then board the same international flight. If people fly separately, make sure you know when and where to meet up on the other side.
You also need a plan for getting around during the trip. Huddling around the luggage carousel is no place to make those decisions.
Decide early, then reserve vehicles or scout out the nearest metro stops long before you go.
Make Reservations, Book Tours, and Buy Tickets Beforehand
It’s easy for one or two people to just walk into a restaurant and get seated. For groups, it’s another story. If there are certain places you want to go, reserve your spots early.
This isn’t all bad. Groups may get a discount on tickets to events, tours, and transport, or even on a block of hotel rooms. Even if you don’t, your vacation will be far more enjoyable if you have these things handled in advance. Click here to find your perfect accommodation.
Nothing will put a damper on your trip faster than showing up somewhere and being turned away. Do your due diligence and reserve enough spots for your crowd. The restaurants and attractions you go visit will appreciate the effort as well.
Reserve Crowd-Pleasing Accommodations
Hotels aren’t the only places to stay on vacation. With a group, you may save a lot of money renting a house. However, your group needs to decide if congregate living will be too much togetherness.
Hotel rooms provide more privacy and “away time” than an Airbnb. If you go with a homestay, make sure you figure out who gets which room before you go. Also, make decisions regarding bathroom sharing.
There are few things worse than arriving at the house and arguing over spaces. If you can talk it through and agree beforehand, do it. If you can’t, you might at least agree to draw straws so no one gets miffed upon arrival.
Plan for Some Separate Time
You may adore your friends and want to spend time with them, but probably not every waking minute. When you’re planning the itinerary, make sure you leave some space for people to do their own thing. Remember, everyone should have a great vacation.
Start with scheduling the activities everyone wants to do, then leave the gaps free. Some might want to shop while others just want to hang out, read a book, or take a nap. Often, you don’t know what you might want to do until you get to a place.
Just make sure you establish times and locations to meet up as a group. See to it that everyone can communicate with everyone else. And whatever you do, leave no group member behind.
Load Up on Apps
Every group is going to have at least one techie in it. Assign that person the job of identifying useful apps and helping everyone get them on their phones. Don’t forget to make sure everyone actually knows how to use them.
Plug in addresses for where you’re staying and where you’re going ahead of time. This will allow them to pop up on your way-finding app so you know where you’re going. You can also pull up an address and show it to your taxi driver when your directions get lost in translation.
Apps like WhatsApp, Google Translate, Citymapper, and those for your airline, hotels, and such can be life savers. Load them up before you go rather than waiting until you get to your destination. And don’t forget to remind everyone to pack their phone charger!
Taking a trip with friends or family can be fun, but don’t kid yourself. It requires some additional work. Sure, you always have the option of working with a travel agent or booking a package group tour. But if you want to truly experience the fun and camaraderie of planning a trip together, you should DIY. When you put in the time and effort necessary, you’ll make your group vacation memorable for all the right reasons.