How to Plan a Group Travel
Planning a group trip? Whether it’s a family reunion, group of friends, or another occasion, a trip with more than a few people can take more pre-planning than any solo adventure. Sure, people love to think about traveling around the world, but make sure you don’t start planning until the basics are decided upon and everyone has committed.
Traveling with a group can be tricky. Whether you are negotiating shared rooms in a Cottage or staging activities with former high school friends that you haven’t seen in ten years, organizing the group can be Challenging. Even a simple weekend trip with some new neighbor friends can be filled with awkward moments if planned poorly. In all group trip scenarios, one thing is definite: everyone vacations differently. One group may want to prepare epicure meals and while others may want to just have delivered food every night. Others may want to be super active and go everywhere while some don’t want to do anything that involves wearing walking shoes. But don’t fret, here are some tips to help you navigate straight through those variables and plan the perfect itinerary.
1. Don’t plan it all yourself. Solicit feedback from the group and decide who’s going, how far and when. It doesn’t have to be exact. then create a group online using what’s app or Facebook messenger which allow you to collaboratively build your itinerary with friends, adding a tour operator to this group will give more information to your itinerary. If you are planning a trip with a group you don’t know much about create a short survey to get a feel for people’s availability, budgets and general lifestyle preferences. Once you have your data, create a shareable itinerary online that everyone can edit and comment on.
2. Designate 1 or 2 as the ringleader. Whether you have 8, 10 or 12 people joining you on your trip, you’ll need one person or one team to take on the majority of the planning. Other group members can and should be included on most of the decisions — where to go, what activities to do — but you don’t want seven people making 20 different dinner reservations.
3. Don’t overload the itinerary. Most people like down time on vacations and if they are very active, let them decide what to do between activities. Tight itineraries are stressful and who wants stress on vacation? Try to not plan anything before 11 am or if you do, don’t be offended when they sleep right past your plans. Only book two or three things per day. People are generally comfortable with some structure and will likely be thankful that you’ve taken the thinking away from them. Have some suggestions of things for people to do during the off time like including a link to the operating hours of a nearby tourist attraction on the itinerary.
4. Decide on a price range. Who is going, and what are their budgets for this trip? Uncle Moneybags might want to spend at least INR 50,000 for a week, your parents were thinking INR 30,000 and your newlywed cousin was anticipating INR 15000. Stick as close to the low end of budgets as possible to accommodate everyone. In this case, we might suggest a INR 25,000 budget, and ask the newlyweds if they’d either like become the ringleaders for a discount, and perhaps Moneybags could pick up a group dinner or pay for the attractions entry. One other thing you could do is to pool money for ‘fixed’ costs only. This would mean you would collect a certain amount of money divided equally by everyone for things like accommodation and transport. However other individual expenses like food, shopping and activities costs should be paid at the individual level.
5. Choose a location. While this sounds relatively easy, this is one of the most difficult steps. Five people aren’t necessarily going to want to go to the same place or do the same things. Listen to what everyone wants, and ask lots of probing questions. While your group might want to go to places as different as Coorg, Kodaikanal or Munnar, you’ll see they’re all looking for a hill-station vacation. You might end up choosing a location based on activities or proximity rather than destination.
5. Don’t be afraid of variety. Plan different types of activities and different types of meals. If you have a 4-day trip planned, don’t make every dinner a fancy affair. Switch it up, go to a different part of town or suggest casual hot spots in addition to fancy see-and-be-seen places. Use tour operator or local guide for recommendations. You’re not going to please everyone, but trying to please one person once is worth it.
6. Research the area. You finally have your location, participants and budget. Where do you stay? What will you do? Discuss with tour operator or look through the internet for ideas. It sounds expensive, but renting a Cottage in Ooty or large home in Madikeri or Wayanad is often cheaper than renting hotel rooms, especially if you take into account cooking at home.
7. Book your trip. Once you’ve researched the area and found accommodation your group likes well enough, book the package. You now have the dates set in stone and members of your group can book their transportation to the starting point of the tour as far in advance as possible.
8. Gauge the activity level of your group. Check in with your group: Do folks want to hang out at the attractions and talk about old times, or do they want to get a bath in a waterfalls or go on safari? Try to find the median level of interest and plan accordingly. Perhaps relaxing on the attraction can be broken up by an eight-hour day hike around a reserve forest or learning local people & their habitat and a trip in-to the jungle. With more than one rental car or by learning the local public transportation, groups can split up on occasion.
9. Don’t stress about splitting tabs. Have everyone speak and let it do all of the thinking for you. Simply take turns paying for things and track them in the chat. Once the trip is over settle up. Easy peasy!
Vacationing with a group is a great way to build deeper friendships and create new memories. Providing the outline for a great trip allows everyone to add in their own memories which is what vacationing is all about and they’ll have you to thank for it!
Warning : Make sure you and your ringleaders plan ahead as much as possible. It’s always easier to ignore or change already existing plans than create plans once you arrive.