You have always dreamed of going on a special trip with a group of close friends where you can spend some quality time together and forge even deeper relationships and bonding. It will be the perfect opportunity to explore new destinations and create some great memories.
Where do you begin? How do you handle all of the details? What is most important to you for the trip?
Planning a group trip can be a huge task for anyone to handle. You want everything to go smoothly and there are so many things to take care of to make sure your trip is enjoyable. It is so important that the travelers have things in common where you can all agree on similar goals and plans for the trip.
We would like to offer some travel tips to help make sure you have a wonderful experience and enjoy every moment.
ASSIGN A GROUP LEADER
One of the first steps for planning is to establish a group leader. It would be someone that can speak on the group’s behalf and coordinate and be responsible for the details of the trip. This person will be prepared to answer any questions that come up and deal with any unusual situations.
This person will make sure things are taken care of by assigning tasks and communicating information to the whole group. Some good organizational skills are essential as well as the ability to interact well with others.
It is important to make sure everyone on the trip is in agreement with the plans and knows the dates and activities as well as the costs. This person would have a good feel for the personalities of the various group members.
SET EXPECTATIONS FROM THE START
To begin planning for the trip, it is important to lay out the expectations and get everyone involved in choosing what is most important to them for this excursion. Part of doing this is to make sure you choose the right group of people that will spend a great deal of time together. Make sure budget expectations are clear and everyone is in agreement about the planning.
It is important to outline what is needed from the get-go. The group leader can help determine which people can help with various aspects of the trip for some of the main tasks and then some of the smaller tasks can be broken up so everyone can participate.
There is a lot to take care of including coordinating flights, lodging arrangements, ground transportation, information sharing, scheduling, working out the finances and many more details. Open and honest communication about what everyone wants from the trip is so important to make the most of your time together. Discuss in advance what everyone is comfortable with so you will be able to appropriately tailor your itinerary for the best interests of everyone.
You can never start early enough to plan for a group trip. Especially with many people involved, you will need some time to pull things together. The group leader can function as the go-to person that knows how things are progressing with the planning and what still has to be decided and taken care of.
Six to twelve months can be a good timeframe to consider your options and make some good decisions. If finances are an important deciding factor, it gives everyone the opportunity to organize their vacation dollars and make a final determination if the trip will work for them.
Prices of flights and ground transportation can increase substantially as your trip date gets closer and spaces can be limited for a big group. You can pick up some of the best deals at an early date. You also want to make sure you get some good choices for lodging, whether it be an Airbnb, hotel or other housing arrangement.
You may even decide to hire a travel agent to handle all of the details for the trip and make sure everything is covered and done correctly. It can take a lot to handle multiple guests and their various requirements.
When booking flights for the group, usually a minimum of ten tickets are required and it is best to set it up 6 to 9 months in advance for the best pricing and availability. If you have over 10 people, group space can be contracted and held for several months with just a deposit. As airfare can be one of the most expensive parts of your trip, it is good to take care of it early in your planning. You can get some general idea of airfare costs on various sites.
Most of the pricing you see online is not available for groups. Also, note that if you are wanting to purchase group space through several individual transactions, your seats can be canceled by the airline. Instead of going online, sometimes it can be to your advantage to contact the airlines group departments and work with one of their agents to get the best pricing.
The many options available when planning a trip can be quite overwhelming. An idea for saving time and helping make sure you get the best options for flights and deals is to use a group travel agent. You can have access to negotiated private fare contracts that give access to some of the best prices globally. It can save you a lot of time instead of working with an airline’s general group desks.
This step in the planning is a major decision and can make a huge difference in your travel experience.
Hotels vs. Airbnb- Which one is the best for you? You also have to determine how much togetherness you want with your fellow travelers.
In general, an Airbnb can be a lot less expensive for a group than booking a hotel suite or a series of hotel rooms. Your group may want to cook meals and spend time together and create some special bonding. You can find some charming houses to stay at while saving money by cooking some of your meals.
If you would like less togetherness and more privacy, a hotel might be a good option for your group. Hotels are generally located near activities and attractions and you are only a call away from the front desk. You may also want a get away from your home chores. You can various apps, including hotels.com and booking.com and others.
With many hotels, it is possible to get a discount of 10% or more. You can reserve a block of rooms that the guests can individually book. They will hold the rooms for a short time period to allow each guest to pay for their own room.
One of the most important things to consider when planning for a group trip is to have a central place to share information where all group members can access the trip plan and keep informed.
Planning, organizing and communicating with your group can be an overwhelming task until you see some of the great tools that are available to you.
An easy and free way to keep track of important details is with Google Docs. Each group member has access to view and edit the material. It’s a nice central location to keep a group itinerary where you can list the flights, hotels and various activities that are planned. It’s quite helpful to be able for everyone to add location and web links to lodging and activities and keep the group informed. Here are some examples of the templates.
Travefy is another good option for you. It is an itinerary-building app where you collect the information for flights, hotels, auto rentals and other essentials into a single itinerary that is shareable. You can share results with everyone, or just some select people in the group.
Group text messages are always helpful for everyone to be accounted for when you split apart and it is time to get back together. Whatsapp is a nice free alternative for international travel to send messages.
A great way to capture your memories is with a private Facebook group. It is a fun tool where you share photos and updates with the group in real-time. You can look at it as a group journal for your special trip.
TRACK MONEY AND ALLOCATE PAYMENTS
It’s also important to have some type of payment system to accept payments and allocate who owes who what amount of money.
Using platforms such as Zelle and Apple Pay, there are a variety of bill-splitting apps to divide up that restaurant bill, Uber charges and other expenses in an easy way. These apps have been a big game-changer in splitting up the expenses based on circumstance. The apps can substantially cut down on the money transfers each person has to make and help eliminate some of the math calculations.
An example of a top app is Splitwise that interfaces with Venmo and PayPal and creates a financial log for your trip. You can track, prorate, and balance expenses. It works great for splitting a restaurant bill or other group travel activities.
With Splitwise, you can create a group for each activity and it keeps a running tally for each group of what everyone owes and which people have paid up to this point. It can be split by percentage in whatever manner you choose. The shared expenses can be seen by all group members and individual balances can rise or fall as various costs are tracked throughout the trip.
PRE-PLAN SOME ACTIVITIES
An important part of planning is to make sure you have at least a rough itinerary. You want to eliminate wasted time when traveling between accommodations, activities and other places. It’s a good idea to have at least a plan for what important activities should be done on which days.
With a group of people, it will reduce a lot of stress if you have some pre-planned activities and for many of them you have to book in advance, depending on the size of your group. You want to make sure you don’t miss out on any important attractions because they were not booked soon enough beforehand.
Some of these daily activities are key to making the most of your trip and the time you spend with each other. Make sure you don’t overlook some of the free activities that are available to you at various locations .
Meal planning for groups is one of the most important components of the trip. It gives people a great chance to bond over good food and drinks and sample different types of food. It is smart to plan your restaurant reservations way in advance for a group-friendly restaurant and one that is close to your activities and events.
You can prepare the following information before you start your research:
Number of people, desired date(s), desired time(s), dietary restrictions, preferred cuisine, other preferences such as walking distance or is a private space is needed.
Start researching with sites like Google reviews, Trip Advisor, Yelp and add social media recommendations for group dining. It can sometimes be best to choose a restaurant that regularly hosts big groups.
You can use to check out restaurants in various locations and plan meals for everyone. With this app, you can make reservations, ask questions of the restaurant, and check out menus.
You can get away from the wait of people ordering by doing a pre-fixed or family style for groups. It is so much easier to avoid having to split the bill when everyone prepays and the financial balance is taken care of without having separate checks.
You can opt for a dedicated group menu if you pick the right restaurant. Your request can be denied if you try to change or customize the menu. The restaurants are good at choosing the best items for the group.
Make sure the restaurant is not too far away from your activities or where you are staying to not lose additional time with getting there. Having too many criteria will limit your choices.
PLANNING GROUND TRANSPORTATION
Ground transportation should be agreed upon before reaching your destination.
- How will you get to and from the airport to your accommodation?
- How will you get around on a daily basis?
- What types of transportation are available at your location?
- How will you handle it if some of the group wants to break off and venture on their own?
Getting around at your location can be more challenging than ever with high demand and rental car shortages. Many minivans and larger vehicles book out quickly. Keep everyone’s budget in mind. Make sure everyone agrees on things like taking public transportation rideshares or other choices.
Depending upon your destination around the globe, there are many ways to get around, including a rideshare like Uber, rental car, van, bike, train, camper or even by foot in some instances. You may also get around by subway, tram, streetcar or Segway. There may also be shuttle services that take you to various attractions.
Depending on the size of your group, a van that can carry 9-18 passengers may be a good option. They are a fast and economical choice for short trips. SUV’s are another good choice to get around and they come in a variety of sizes. There are also different size options in buses that may meet your needs.
We hope some of these tips can be helpful in planning that special trip and taking care of the important details to give you some peace of mind. Traveling with a group can be such an enriching experience and provide some great memories for you.