Planning a group trip can be a bit like herding cats. But no matter what role you play in your group vacay, our 10 tips help make the planning — and traveling — process run that much more smoothly.
Here’s how to be confident you’re planning a great group trip.
1. Do start early. As soon as you and your friends decide to take a trip together — start planning. Don’t let the idea linger, or you may end up booking everything last-minute and miss out on great deals for flights and accommodations (using our Price Alerts tool can help avoid this). Plus, the longer you wait, the easier it is for things to “come up” and for friends to bail.
2. Do set up a budget pool. Once you know what your friends can spend, consider pooling money by collecting a set amount (say $500) from everyone before your trip. The group’s planner can use this money to pay for accommodations, meals, transportation, drinks and more while you’re on vacation. If there’s money left at the end, split it up or go wild one last night. PS: If you have a few friends on a tight budget, check out these wallet-friendly international and domestic destinations.
3. Do be democratic. Unless you’re planning a bachelor(ette) or birthday getaway (where the person of honor should have the most say), everyone in the group should have equal voice in this trip. That means, everyone gets one vote on the destination, dates and accommodations (good thing we built a tool for that). When choosing rooms, elect to draw straws to keep things fair (and so that no one gets left out).
4. Do have everyone book their own flight. No matter how nice it might be to have everyone land at the same time — it should be each individual’s responsibility to book their own flight. This helps avoid the dreaded “Can you spot me — I get paid next Friday” conversation as well as minimizes room for expensive booking errors (“I thought your birthday was August 19th!”).
5. Do make dinner reservations. While plans for breakfast and lunch can be made on the fly, if you’ve got a large group make your dinner reservations in advance. That way you’re sure you can be accomodated and don’t do the dreaded “7pm wander” around the city because every hot restaurant has a 2+-hour wait.
6. Do decide how you’ll get around. First, are you renting a car? If yes, who’s getting the international license if you’re traveling abroad. If not — make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to taking public transportation or rideshares. Some might not want to shell out for surge pricing while others aren’t comfortable going underground. That way you can figure out if its more economical to hire a driver or to rely on local transport options.
7. Don’t use your phones at the table. Make a pact with your group that while you’re eating together, phones will remain out of sight. Use this trip as time for bonding and getting to know each other on a deeper level, not for raking up fake internet points. You might even want to make a rule: at dinner, phones go in the middle of the table. The first to reach for theirs has to buy a round.
8. Don’t overpack. This is especially true if you’re destination-hopping. Packing light will help save you transit time (no baggage claims), fees (thanks, Basic Economy) and stress. No lugging multiple suitcases to your vacation rental, no ordering separate taxis just to accommodate all your stuff. Keep it easy.
9. Don’t ditch the group (without a meet-up plan). Listen we get it. Fun happens. But remember why you’re on this trip: to spend time with the group. If you’re one to wander, apps like Glympse and Google’s Trusted Contacts will let you share your location with the group so they can keep track of you.
10. Don’t forget to thank your planner. Your one friend that took charge of coordinating this trip? Thank them. Show your appreciation for their effort by buying them a fancy cocktail, pitching in for a special souvenir or just sending a card.
The person planning your group trip has a tough job to do — help make it easier for them. Check out how to celebrate the planner in your life for a chance to with $5,000 towards your next group trip.