12 Tips for Organizing the Best-Ever Friend Trip
When you’re going on a trip with a group of friends, there are a lot of things to keep in mind. Some you may not have thought of before, even if you are a seasoned traveler.
Keeping a group of people happy is much more complex than satisfying the whims of one or two. Moreover, if you’re going with friends that you care about, the pressure is on to create a memorable and fun trip that satisfies everyone’s unique interests.
Even if you’re not a travel pro, there are always things that you can do to help facilitate a positive experience for everyone. Here are some of our best travel tips for group excursions.
1. Pick a Destination Together
One of the most fun aspects of planning a group trip is picking the destination. If you’re lucky, you won’t really need to spend too long working this out. If there are some disagreements, the most democratic way to handle it is to make a list of all the potential destinations that are being discussed and vote on them together.
The ideal destination for a group trip is somewhere with a lot of options for dining, accommodations, and entertainment. Domestically, cities like New York City and Las Vegas are popular because of their size. Plus, less touristy cities like New Orleans, Seattle, and Chicago are great options.
2. Figure Out How to Coordinate Schedules
The easiest way to lose track of your plans and schedules is to use a variety of different communication methods.
Try to stick to one method, like a single group text or email thread, to work out all your plans. When the time comes to schedule, make a group Google Calendar, and start inputting all your dates in there. That way, everyone can look at the schedule any time and any edits will be pushed through to every different device.
Just make sure to track the times carefully if you’re spread across a few different time zones.
3. Share Planning Resources
Once you’ve sorted out your dates and have finished booking all of your travel, the next step is to plan what you’re going to be doing on your trip.
A great option for logging all your ideas is to make a note in your Notes app on any Apple device and share it with all of the trip participants. You can also use a Google Doc, which serves the same purpose. Whatever app or program you use, make sure that edits made by one person are pushed to all the other participants.
Resist the urge to start scheduling everything all at once. On a group trip, it’s important to have enough unstructured free time to ensure that people don’t get sick of each other.
4. Make a Packing List Together
While most adults are comfortable packing for their own trip, having a shared packing list is useful for larger items, like hairdryers, laptops, and portable speakers, that can be used by multiple people. Make a large list and let people claim each of these larger items, so there are no doubles.
This is also a great time to do a little bit of research on the weather forecast for your chosen destination. Plan ahead so no one is caught without weather-appropriate clothing.
5. Elect a Coordinator or Let Everyone Take Control Over One Aspect of the Trip
If you’re going on a trip that involves multiple bookings per person, it’s a good idea to elect someone the logistical coordinator. This could mean letting someone do all of the travel and accommodation bookings. Or you can split it up so one person is in charge of the travel, one person is in charge of the accommodations, with another taking the lead on entertainment and leisure bookings.
If your group is large enough, you may be offered discounts by booking altogether. If one person is in charge, it makes handling money easier, as you’re not trying to keep track of multiple receipts being paid out by different people. Once everything is booked, use Venmo or PayPal to reimburse the coordinator.
6. Use Airbnb to Secure the Perfect Accommodations
If you’re traveling with a group and want to stay in the same location, your best bet is to use a website like Airbnb or VRBO to book a shared accommodation. Generally, this is cheaper than paying for multiple hotel rooms. Also, if you book an entire home or apartment, you’ll get access to a kitchen, outdoor space, and common areas where you can lounge together.
If you’re traveling with a group of six or more, you’ll want to start looking early — especially if it’s a popular location or a busy time of year.
7. Discuss Budget
If you’re traveling with a group, it’s a good idea to discuss your budgetary situation before you get to your chosen destination, just to make sure everyone is on the same page.
While it’s possible to travel with a group even if your budgets don’t completely align, you will need to work out an arrangement regarding your restaurant choices. It’s better to do it in advance, rather than have a hangry, pre-dinner confrontation. It’s one of the only times that you’ll need to agree on how much money you’re willing to spend.
8. Figure Out Shared Costs
When you’re planning a group trip, it’s easy to forget about all of the little costs that can add up quickly. Before your trip gets underway, it’s essential to figure out how you’re going to split group costs, like taxis, tips, and snacks, before it becomes an issue.
Either pool money into a kitty before the trip starts or agree to designate one person as the banker. Everyone else will pay the banker back at the end.
If you try and rotate costs, it’s likely that one disgruntled person will end up paying more than their share.
9. Make Sure Everyone Can Communicate Once You Reach Your Destination
If you’re traveling overseas, make sure that you can all communicate with each other before you get on the plane. This may mean buying a disposable SIM card or contacting your mobile provider before you leave to buy an overseas data package.
If you don’t want to use your data but still want to communicate, make sure you’ve downloaded a Wi-Fi texting app like Signal or Whatsapp. Also, make sure your accommodation has Wi-Fi available.
10. Stockpile Snacks
A great way to make sure that your group happy no matter what is to stockpile a bunch of snacks to have on-hand in your accommodations and on the road. This way, even if the eating schedules of your group vary widely, you won’t be faced with annoyed, hungry friends first thing in the morning. This also saves your group from having to make multiple unscheduled stops throughout the day.
Some useful foods to keep on hand for snacking are pieces of whole fruit, yogurt, granola bars, sliced jerky, and cheese.
11. Keep a List of Food Allergies and Preferences
Another thing that your group will have to agree on when you’re on a trip together is the types of foods that you’re open to eating. One major source of friction on group trips is the restaurant choices. While some people love adventurous eating, others are more comfortable at a McDonalds or Hard Rock Café.
Talking about your palates and any food allergies you may have before you head out will ensure that everyone feels comfortable. Plus, it will help you come up with a few compromises, if necessary.
12. Keep an Open Mind
One of the best things about traveling is the opportunity to have new experiences and do things that are outside of your comfort zone. If you’re traveling alone, the choice of what you do, where you go, and what you eat is entirely your own.
When you’re with a group, you may have to compromise on some of those things. Try and look at it as an opportunity for growth and keep an open mind. Your friends are there to encourage and support you. As such, you may find yourself opening up to new experiences that you would have never undertaken on your own.