Traveling as part of a large group is incredibly common; “whole family” vacations – where siblings, parents, and cousins unite together for a single trip – are fairly standard, and large groups of friends (and their children) choosing to travel together is far from unusual. These group vacations can be incredibly enjoyable and help you to make memories that will be cherished for many years to come, but the more people you are trying to organize, the more complex the process tends to become.
If you are intending to take a vacation with friends or family members in the near future, here are a few tips that can help to make the process as straightforward as it can possibly be…
#1 – Work out dates as a group
Arguably the most difficult aspect of planning a group vacation takes place right at the start, when you have to agree the dates for the vacation. You have to find a date that works with everyone’s schedule, which is far easier said than done.
When attempting to agree dates, wires can quickly become crossed if you’re talking to the people you plan to travel with individually. You could, for example, have one-on-one conversations with each person in turn, agree on dates with them all, and then speak to the last person on your list and find that the dates you agreed with everyone else don’t work for them – so you have to begin the process afresh.
To prevent such a scenario, everyone who will be going on the trip should meet in person (or online, if you do not live close to one another), complete with diaries, to set a firm date that works for everyone.
#2 – Rent a house rather than individual hotel rooms
Renting a house at your destination rather than booking separate hotel rooms can make managing your vacation far easier – both in terms of planning and in terms of keeping everyone together when you have arrived.
Alternatively, you could consider renting a suite of rooms at a hotel rather than an independent house. Doing so works well if you’d prefer the convenience of amenities such as room and maid service, but want to keep everyone as close together as possible.
#3 – Prepare for separate activities
It is incredibly rare for every member of a group to want to do the same thing for every day you are away. Some people will want to kick back and relax; others will want to explore; while others may want to try high-octane activities – everyone will have different priorities for how they want to spend their time. You can simply plan to break into smaller pods, with each group going to do their own thing and then reuniting in the evening.
It can be useful to have an idea of these “pods” when you are planning your trip. Ask family members which activities or excursions they might like to do, and if possible, book tickets or make travel arrangements in advance to facilitate these, as it can often be cheaper to book in advance rather than waiting until you arrive. To keep track, use a Google Calendar with information as to each scheduled activity on it, and share this calendar with all of the other adults in your group.
#4 – Keep large swathes of your itinerary free
Planning for certain activities in advance is definitely helpful; you can reserve tickets for attractions ahead of time and make savings, or avoid the disappointment of people missing out. However, it is usually best to avoid a completely jam-packed itinerary, wherein multiple activities are already decided on and confirmed before you even arrive.
The reason for this is simple: people will change their minds. Those who said they did not want to go on a particular excursion may arrive at your destination and suddenly decide that they do, and vice versa. If you’ve made a large number of bookings already, then accommodating these changes of heart can be nigh-on impossible. As a result, it’s best to make two or three major arrangements, and leave everything else to be decided on the day. While this does mean you may miss out on the lower prices booking in advance can usually provide, it does provide a valuable allowance for flexibility.
#5 – Plan to travel together as much as possible
One of the toughest aspects of traveling in a large group is keeping track of everyone when you are moving from place to place. If your group becomes unintentionally separated, then hours can be lost trying to get everyone back into the same place.
It’s therefore best to plan to travel as a group as much as possible, leaving at the same time and taking the same form of transport. This is a process that should begin right from the beginning of your vacation; consider charter bus rental for your transport to the airport and doing the same at your destination. This still works even if your group separates to try different activities or excursions; just ensure that each pod travels together via the same mode of transport – and ideally the same vehicle – each time.
#6 – Create reference sheets
A reference sheet is a document that can be used in case something goes awry, such as your group getting separated while at an attraction or someone losing their phone. Everyone in your group should have one, and it should include the following information:
- Phone numbers for everyone in the group.
- The phone number for the owners of the house you are renting from/your hotel.
- The address of your house/hotel.
- Local taxi phone numbers
- A note of the emergency services phone number for your chosen destination
It’s usually best to provide a paper copy of each reference sheet in addition, rather than relying purely on shared cloud documents, as if someone loses their device, they will also lose access to the sheet they need to manage the situation.
Having read through the above, you should be able to effectively organize your group vacation and ensure that a good time is had by all – enjoy!