So you and a bunch of your best friends have decided to embark on an adventure together. No matter if you are just doing a weekend trip or a month long backpacking adventure, getting a group of people with different preferences to agree to a single itinerary is no easy task. My first trip to Europe was with 6 of my closest friends, and through the process of planning the trip I picked up several tips I would like to pass along.
1) Set the ground rules
The entire group should be on the same page about what type of trip this will be. People will be disappointed if members sign up expecting to backpack across Europe and the group ends up taking a luxury spa vacation in California. The details don’t necessarily need to be finalized before people buy in to the trip – but there should be a general understanding on what everyone wants to do.
2) Pick a leader
With everyone expressing their opinions planning this trip can be a headache. Its important to have someone take charge and consolidate ideas, take the lead on bookings and be the central contact for the trip. Different group members can take on organizing different sections of the trip (i.e.: one person can plan each city or one can person can take on all transportation, one can do activities and one can do accommodations etc.). Planning a trip especially for a large group can be a very time consuming task so don’t be afraid to ask for help! Its also important to make sure everyone’s voice is heard – so the leader should take care to not over rule the group – but they should be seen as a moderator ensuring the process goes smoothly. A trip planner or travel agent can come in handy here if no one wants to take on the planning process – they can offer you different options and take care of much of the research which will make the planning process go a lot quicker (take a look at ourservices page for information on what rates we offer).
3) Communication is key
Since trips can be expensive, its important to make sure everyone is kept up to date with any changes or developments. Depending on your group dynamics the leader may need to schedule planning meetings or updates – but its important to both get input before decisions are made AND to clearly explain what the final outcome is.
4) Don’t be afraid to split up
When you are going on a trip – everyone’s interests may not be aligned. Some members may enjoy shopping, while others enjoy museums and history, while others really just want to do adventure sports. You don’t have to spend the entire trip together, as long as everyone is aware of the schedule and meeting places, you can split up into smaller groups. I don’t recommend going off alone in some situations – but with the proliferation of smart phones and wireless being offered at every corner, its very easy to get in contact with the rest of the group if an activity goes long, or if someone gets lost.
5) Be flexible
When you go on a group trip – you likely won’t get to do everything exactly as you want. So in the planning process be aware that compromises will need to be made. When you are on your trip you will also have to remain flexible. Travelling in a group means you are less in control of your trip. Your trip can stall if some gets hurt or if something gets lost/misplaced/stolen. This is not to paint a negative picture, but keep in mind (as you should with all trips) that your plans may need to be changed during your trip.
6) A group opens up more possibilities
While a solo trip can be fun – there are several options that become cheaper or more feasible with a group. AirBnB may work better than booking a hotel room (or multiple rooms). If you have a group of 6-10 people it is often cheaper to rent out an apartment than it is to go to a hotel. On overnight/sleeper trains a group of 6 allows you to reserve the whole compartment – which means you wont be in the compartment with strangers (finding an overnight train in between cities on your itinerary is a great way to save on costs as your transportation is also your accommodation for a night). Many attractions/tours also offer discounts for bigger groups.
7) Understand Limitations
Not everyone in your group will have the ability do the same activities (whether that is due to monetary limitations or physical limitations). At this point either splitting up the group for some activities or making compromises is required. If that are group members with monetary limitations its best to discuss those at the beginning so that can be taken into consideration when booking hotels/accommodations and transportation. One of the first steps taken should be to do a rough estimate of the budget you will be trying to stick to.
8) Book together
When booking different parts of the trip (especially airline tickets), if you book separately you run the risk of having people miss out on a sale or not having space on a flight. If you are searching for airfare make sure you look for all tickets at once – and book all at once so you can all be on the same flights. When booking make sure the person who puts everything on his/her credit card gets bonus points or miles for travel!
And lastly….HAVE FUN! Though a little extra has to go in to planning a group trip – its worth it when you get to explore a foreign country and participate in one in a life time opportunities with your best friends.
Have any other tips for groups trips? Leave a comment below with anything I may have missed!