There’s a lot to consider when you’re going on a group trip — whether you’re planning an adventure with your best friends, a multi-generational getaway with the whole family or you’re embarking on a pre-planned group tour. There are some incredible benefits of sharing experiences with other travelers, but it does take some specialized planning. Here are our top tips for group travel of all kinds:
#1 Make Sure Everyone Is On The Same Page
From big factors like budget, destination, and travel dates, to small details like the number of beds you’ll need. It’s important to start with an open and honest discussion to ensure that everyone’s expectations align.
Do you want to spring for the ultra-luxury hotel with incredible views, pool, and spa — Or is this a more casual trip? Will you splurge on a once-in-a-lifetime experience like snorkeling with whale sharks? You don’t need to nail down exactly where you’re staying or what you’re doing yet. Just get an idea of what kinds of activities, amenities, and styles everyone envisions for this adventure.
Be upfront about your boundaries, your priorities, and your budget. And allow space for everyone else to express their expectations. Make sure this vacation is a shared vision.
#2 Use Apps
There are a myriad of apps and technology to help keep everyone connected and on the same page. Utilizing things like WhatsApp and Google Docs to stay connected and share itineraries. Tricount or Travelspend will make keeping track of budget and spending so much easier. Make sure you have a plan of what you’ll use to communicate and keep track of costs before you go.
[Photo Credit: Cailtin White via Shared Adventures — check out their girl’s trip to Napa here]
#3 Balance Free Time & Activities – But always plan food & drinks
When planning a trip for clients, we always try to create the perfect balance between wandering the beautiful streets, relaxing on your own, and pre-planned activities. It’s important to have downtime as well as scheduled activities. Remember, having too many planned activities in a day will leave everyone feeling tired and stressed. Plus, groups take a little longer to get from place to place because there will always be unexpected needs like a coffee, snack, or bathroom. So, leave yourselves breathing room in your schedule.
However, always have a solid dinner plan. Nothing is worse than trying to decide where to eat when everyone is already hungry and finding that there is a 2hr wait because of your group size. You can always cancel the reservation if you change your mind.
#4 Everyone is good at something
Find the skill sets of the individuals in your group and utilize them! Does someone have a great sense of direction? They are now the navigator. Does someone speak the local language? They are the communicator. Two people with an artistic eye? In charge of photos. This will help spread out the responsibilities and tasks. It ensures that everything that needs doing is being taken care of and gives your vacation a collaborative feel.
[Photo Credit: Ann via Shared Adventures — check out her group trip aboard a luxury cruise ship here]
#5 Be Flexible & Have Fun
First, agree to have fun. Nobody likes the constant complainer on a trip – this is supposed to be a fun adventure! Entering the trip with a positive mindset from the beginning will ensure you’ll have a good time!
Second, figure out your non-negotiables and communicate them with the rest of the group. Find where you mesh together and where you might need to do your own thing. There will be a little compromise beforehand and some unexpected changes in the moment. So make sure you’re flexible in your plans and expectations.
Above all, remember that the best decision is any decision that gets finalized. Sometimes someone just needs to decide so you can have an experience rather than standing around trying to come to a consensus. Just make sure it’s not always the same person making the call, and remember to step up if no one else has a strong opinion.
Specific Tips for Group Tours
#1 Keep an open mind
On a planned group tour you’ll be in the hands of a trusted guide and might find yourself a little outside your comfort zone – but that’s part of the experience! To be able to do and see things you may never have thought of doing and seeing yourself. Be sure to join these groups with an open mind and willingness to experience new and different things.
#2 Be patient
Everyone travels a little differently – and that’s ok. While each group tour will tend to attract like-minded people, everyone has their travel quirks that you may or may not enjoy. Remember to be patient with others in your group. Especially since moving in a group will take much longer than if you were on your own. A little patience and kindness go a long way in creating a fun group atmosphere.
[Photo Credit: Ann via Shared Adventures – check out her recent adventure to Thailand here!]
#3 Ask Questions
Your tour guide is there to answer all your questions! They often have more in-depth knowledge than just what’s on your itinerary – so be curious! If you start to wonder about something, speak up and ask. Similarly, ask questions of your fellow travelers. Group Tours are a great way to meet interesting people, and make new friends from all walks of life – so indulge in curiosity and ask away!
Specific Tips for Friend Groups
#1 It’s more about the Group than the Destination
The destination is incredible and worth enjoying, but the point of a group vacation is to spend time together! To get away from the day-to-day minutia of life! Carve out time to be in the moment, chat and enjoy each other’s company. Don’t get too hung up on ‘seeing it all’.
#2 Have Some Alone Time
While this adventure is about spending time with your favorite people – sometimes you need a little alone time to be your best self, and that’s ok. You don’t have to do every single thing together.
#3 Establish a leader
Early in the process, pick someone who will be the leader. The organizer, the person who best understands the needs of the group and is willing to take on the final decisions. While it should be an overall democratic process – having someone as the point person for your travel agent or general organizer will be a big help.
[Photo Credit: Ann via Shared Adventures — check out her group trip to the Galapagos here!]
Specific Tips for Multi-Generational Adventures
#1 Cater to Everyone’s Interest
More often than not, you’ll find that not everyone is interested in seeing the same things – and that’s ok. Make sure to have a balance – a little bit of something for everyone. And a few things that everyone will enjoy.
#2 Schedule time to sit and soak it in
Make sure to schedule frequent breaks and times to just enjoy being together. Whether it’s a long lunch, time to sit in the park, or relaxing together on the beach. Don’t let the vacation zoom by with too many plans and activities.
[Photo Credit: Ginny via Shared Adventures]
#3 Plan for bathroom breaks
The much older and much younger generations tend to need more bathroom breaks and it’s worthwhile to do a little planning ahead of time. Make sure there’s time in the schedule and, if you’re on a road trip or walking around a city – you know where the bathrooms are.
We hope these tips have you feeling ready for your next group adventure! The earlier you start planning the better — so let us know what you have in mind and we can help you every step of the way!