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GeniusTalk

[Group] Travel 101 | Maegan

A travel maeven’s top 10 tips on group travel planning. 🌏

Not everyone is built for group travel planning and that’s ok. If you, like me, enjoy nothing more than research, lists and adventurous activities, here are 10 tips to make your trip fun, seamless and fiscally responsible for errybody.

1) Curate the vibe.

First and foremost, protect your trip. You and your friends may travel differently than me and mine so everyone’s definition of proper “vibes” may not be the same. For us, if you’re the type to not wanna go to Morocco because of the “stories” you’ve heard or if you’re not one to go ziplining through the Central American rainforest or you’re not gonna take a water taxi because you’re “scared” then you absolutely would not enjoy our trips.

2) If possible, establish a group of day ones.

I have a list of about 10 people with whom I know I can travel and have a great time. For group trips, my core group is my fellow GT members and honorary Genius, Chad. If you dropped the 5 of us on a deserted island, we’d have the time of our lives as long as there’s some herb and a few bottles. We like to be comfortable, but we’ll also grab lunch at a shed on the side of the road.

Since we plan our annual international trips knowing that this group is the priority, we pick the dates and destinations and everyone else can get in where they fit in— or not. It’s all good for us either way.

3) Get adventurous with your accommodations.

This relates to bullet number 1 and this tip may not be for everyone. Since our trips are basically adult slumber parties, we’re more Airbnb than Marriott and because of this, we’ve stayed in some pretty dope ass places. We’ve stayed at a random missionary in the middle of Belize in super cute dorm style rooms with mosquito nets. We’ve had entire homes to ourselves with private infinity pools and we even had our own 6-floor riad in Essaouira, Morocco with views of the beach.

Sidenote: get everyone’s rooming preferences ahead of time. We usually do 2 in a room for some spots and our own rooms for others. If I can, I will usually have us share rooms at the beginning of the trip or make sure we have our own rooms in places where we’re likely to make new friends. 😉

All this to say: get creative, stay open minded and most importantly, don’t stay at hotels.

4) Take advantage of group discounts and get a little bougie.

In terms of how many travelers, 5 is my sweet spot for group travel. With 5 people, even if your costs aren’t minimized, you can often get a better bang for your buck. For example, last year 5 of us needed to get from Chefchaouen, Morocco to Fes.

While we could have taken a bus and then a taxi to Avis to pick up our rental, we hired a private driver instead and ended up paying the same amount. Not only did we have an SUV to ourselves, our driver stopped at different sites to take pics of us, we got to take bathroom breaks and we had the greatest grapes I’ve ever tasted on the side of some random road.

Seriously, the best grapes ever. 🍇

With that…

5) If possible, get a rental and explore.

This won’t be an option everywhere you go, but I’d argue that it’s an option in most countries. Instead of relying on taxis and limiting our experiences, we’ve rented cars in Panama, Belize, Mexico and Morocco. This means you get to explore on your own time and it helps with grocery store runs (we like to eat…a lot).

6) Use Splitwise.

Technology is your friend. Coming from someone who has had to manually break down transactions after a 14-day trip and figure out who owes whom what, keep it simple and use an app. Splitwise is my personal fave, but I’m sure there are other options.

7) Get organized.

“I’m a lady in streets and a freak in the spreadsheets.

-Claire Dunphy

I start off by creating a spreadsheet to list a few itineraries for the group to choose from. (Here’s the final one that I created for our Paris/Morocco trip.) I also make a map to get a visual of where we’re going. It helps me keep our plans realistic especially when we’re road trippin.

On the spreadsheet I include deadlines for money due and include the cost of each reservation and transportation type so everyone knows how much to budget for the trip. Because I’m a good person, I collect accommodations money from everyone upfront, even if it’s for a booking that we’ll pay for onsite. This way everyone only has to worry about their spending money. This is in no way an obligation, #nopressure.

8) Balance your budget and don’t be scared off by long flights.

This August, we’re going to Thailand and Malaysia. 🏝 While the flights will be expensive for some since August is the most expensive travel month of the year, August is also low season for a lot of the cities/islands we’re visiting so we’ll save on tours and accommodations. I urge you to couple luxury with local experiences. Example: book comfy accommodations and eat at local restaurants. #balance

9) Stay flexible.

Rather than a specific ass unrealistic annoying daily itinerary that no one cares about, I make a list of hot spots in each location and maybe book a tour or two if necessary. Keep in mind that if you’re anything like us, you’re gonna wake up hungover some of the days and some nights you’ll only sleep for 2 hours. Some days you’ll spend the day wandering or lounging on a beach. Who’s tryna go on a walking tour while they’re on the verge of passing out?

Also: I fucking hate walking tours. Bar crawls over walking tours any day.

Some nights you’ll go out, come home for more drinks, dance bachata and head back out for more trouble.

10) Be honored that your friends trust you.

If you follow me on Twitter, I’m the annoying one that is constantly tweeting about how much I love traveling with my friends. I’ve traveled with lots of different people and I’ve even been paid to take groups of 30 people across the world.

Traveling with an unproblematic, light-hearted, adventurous group of your homies is what dreams are made of. I particularly hit the jackpot because my friends are the definition of “go with the flow”. There’s no complaining, all laughter and they trust me to craft these memories for us.

That kids is the realest honor ya girl could ask for and makes all the hours of planning worth it.

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