Do you cringe at the thought of planning a group trip with friends? Do you question if your friendships will survive after the trip is over? Trust me, I understand if you've asked yourself these questions. Planning a group trip is no easy task and can be stressful. Planning travel for a group isn't always drama-free. Unforeseen circumstances can easily arise. This not only throws a wrench in travel plans but also adds a strain on friendships. Don't let these potential obstacles dissuade you from planning group travel. I've planned several group trips and some of my best vacation memories are from those vacations. Here are my top tips that will help ensure that you and your friendships last long after the vacation is over.
1. Be Formal. When it comes time to plan group travel I switch into my role as a Travel Consultant. When my friends and I begin discussing our travel plans I take notes and also set up meetings to make sure that everyone is on the same page. I'm not saying that you need to be overly formal but it's best to avoid having an overly casual approach. If you're friends understand how serious you are about planning the trip, they'll do the same in return as far as keeping up their word. Don't be afraid to take the lead.
2. Communicate! This step ties right back to step number one. It is imperative that you keep the lines of communication open. I prefer to send everyone in my travel group emails or group texts. I find that its easiest to have everything in writing to cut down on confusion. That way if problems arise you can quickly refer back to the written communication. Make sure that you keep your group aware of any changes or updates to your trip. Whenever I make payments on behalf of the group, I send everyone copies of the receipts, confirmations, and itinerary changes.
3. Have a Plan B. Always think ahead. Last year when renting a condo for my group, a friend cancelled at the last minute. This not only posed a financial strain but was an instant stressor among my group of friends. Thankfully, we were able to make some slight adjustments and proceeded with our plans. If your travel plans involve deposits or group payments think ahead to what the group will do, if someone can't go. In the event that this does happen, the group will be prepared and the responsibility won't lie on one person. Discuss the plan B prior to finalizing arrangements so no one will be caught off guard.
4. Research the Area Prior to Arrival. When planning a group trip, I've been asked the following question multiple times upon arrival to our destination...Where should we eat? This is the one question I hate answering when traveling with a group. Why? Because, groups tend to be indecisive and it can take forever to make a group decision. When you add hunger in the mix, emotions escalate and people can become HANGRY! In order to avoid this, I research local restaurants that my group can patronize. By preparing a list ahead of time, you can simply present the list to the group and avoid a lot of wasted time. I normally suggest 1 or 2 options on the list that I think the group will like. You can also take the same approach when it comes to choosing excursions, or other activities to do.
5. Print the Docs. This tip came in handy during preparation for my last cruise. I printed my groups travel documentation ahead of time and even brought my group luggage tags. Now, I'm not saying you have to buy your group luggage tags or other things but everyone definitely appreciated having their documents printed. In situations when you're traveling with first time cruisers, either take the time to show them how to check in beforehand or do it for them.
If you prefer not to do either of these send reminders to your group to make sure that everyone has all their travel documentation printed and ready to go. You can even offer to pick up everyone's documents ahead of time to ensure that nothing is left at home.
6. If all else fails call a travel agent. This June, I'll be going to Mexico with 15 family members and friends to celebrate my upcoming college graduation. I want to enjoy my trip as much as possible and have decided that I'm going to leave the planning to someone else. I've been collaborating with my travel agent to plan different excursions, transportation options, etc. Sometimes you might not feel up to planning a trip, and that's ok! Don't be afraid to let an agent step in if things become too overwhelming. You can still have a huge share in planning the success of the trip, without dealing with all the stress.
I hope these tips have helped! Do you have any strategies for planning group travel? If so, feel free to leave them in the comments below.