How to Make It Easier From The Beginning
Our favorite trips are when people travel together. We love when different generations, couple friends, or girlfriends decide to time specific time away to make memories together. Those memories and stories hold people together and become the stories they share year after year.
But traveling together in a group is very different from traveling along or even with just your immediate family. Here are our tips for how to think about your group vacation so that you are set up for great memories and not squabbles.
Group Travel Is Different
It’s really important that everyone in the group realizes a group trip is different than traveling alone or with your own immediate family. People have different travel styles and expectations when it comes to vacation. When you travel as a group, you are going to find that you won’t be doing everything the way you might normally vacation. This could be because of the group’s size or simply because of the different desires of the group. It could affect the choice of accommodation, budget, activities, airline, or food. To make a group trip successful, everyone in the group needs to want to travel together more than they want to do vacation “their way”.
Groups can be harder to accommodate than an individual vacation. Availability for rooms, dining reservations, or excursions can be more complicated for many people. Being flexible on dates and times helps, as does having back up options in case something doesn’t work out. Look for the new memories and stories hiding within the change of plans. These can sometimes be the best surprises of a trip if people have a flexible mindset.
Because accommodating a group vacation reservation can be more complicated than an individual one, it’s good to plan far in advance. This allows you to get the room types you want, best airfare choices, and better access to options and amenities. This also allows everyone time for budgeting for the trip. Last minute planning for a group can be very, very difficult and stressful for the group.
Not everyone is prompt. Ha! With group vacations, it’s important than group members meet reservation and payment deadlines to avoid missing the group. Establish a schedule up front on dates, payments deadlines, and when the group will be making decisions so that a group doesn’t get lost in the details. We highly recommend establishing deadlines for the group a few days before actual hard deadlines with airlines or suppliers to give time for any late responses or changes the group needs to make.
People “count” different things in their vacation budget. When someone tells you they paid “x” for a trip, we see a lot of people include or exclude things from that total. It’s important that group members know the total cost of the trip including airfare, accommodation, transportation, food, luggage, gratuities, activities, souvenirs, and anything else special the group might want to do (matching t-shirts, photos, etc.).
Some people love to action-pack a vacation. Others want to sit on the beach and do nothing. It’s good for the group to talk through how they see the days going and when they think they will be together and where. This can help everyone have realistic goals about how much or little everyone will be doing. It’s helpful to pick one or two things that the group really wants to do together and make those a priority while allowing flexibility in other areas. It’s not good to show up and try to “wing it” with a group. This can end in hurt feelings.
Some groups want to be together all the time. Others have very different wants and needs on vacation and need some time apart to do that. It’s important to strike a balance between group time and activities and time for individuals or couples. Some groups do different things during the day but plan to eat dinner together each evening. Others pick one activity a day to do together at a specific time, but then leave more flexibility for group members the rest of the time. It’s important to establish a timetable ahead of time as it can be difficult to communicate to several rooms once you are on vacation. It’s much easier if everyone know that you are meeting at 10am in the lobby the next morning.
While many vacation memories are spontaneous, groups often need more planning for special moments. Plan to do at least one really special thing together as a group. We highly recommend picking something for which the destination is known and doing that.
Groups often have to communicate decisions as a whole together. This often means it is one person’s job to communicate to a travel professional or someone else the group’s desires. Sometimes a group has a natural spokesperson and other times someone has to volunteer. That person may help make dining reservation, communicate information to the group, gather information to give to a resort or travel professional, help set deadlines, or be the phone contact on a reservation.
Many reservations in travel have fluctuating prices depending on availability and demand. When a group wants to book, it’s best to do it at the same time to allow for the best rates and availability. If group members wait long time spans before booking, prices can go up when the rest of the group books early and great a greater demand.
Traveling together is so very rewarding. Working with an expert travel agent is especially important for groups to take the burden off the group to accommodate everyone’s needs and manage their individual reservations. We make group planning easy!