So you’ve decided you’re going to take a group holiday with your nearest and dearest (and maybe that one periphery friend who only like one member of the group knows but somehow ended up getting an invite anyway) and you’re wondering just how to plan your travel. Well, first of all, good luck. Second of all, you’ve come to the right place if you’re wondering how to plan a group trip.
Last year, to celebrate the end of our final year exams, me and some pals took a massively successful group holiday to Porto, Portugal and so I feel entirely qualified to share my group holiday planning wisdom with you all. Read on and prepare to be enlightened by my tips on how to successfully plan a group holiday.
HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY PLAN A GROUP HOLIDAY
Make a Facebook event
Facebook event? But you don’t even have dates or a destination yet. HAHA. Good luck getting highly complex and detailed information like that out of your fellow travellers without having one place on the internet in which to pin them down and hassle them about where and when they want to go.
Let’s be honest, every friendship group has that flaky member who goes off the grid at least once a week, but once you’ve successfully enticed an ‘attending’ out of them, they’re putty in your hands. After making sure everyone is invited and attending, make sure you give it a suitably puntastic title to maintain their attention (ours was called, once we had the destination down, PortuGALS).
My Facebook event pro tip is to use the ‘Event Description’ section of the event as a kind of virtual pinboard which shows who owes who for the flights, accommodation, etc. and who still needs to buy insurance. There’s no point using a post that just gets pushed down the page as someone inevitably floods the event with memes one boring Thursday evening for absolutely no reason.
WARNING! Facebook chats are the devil’s work and should never be used for the purposes of planning a group holiday. Why? Because no one is capable of staying on topic. NO ONE.
This seems like the obvious first step in the ‘how to plan a trip’ guide, but it actually comes second. Just add everyone you might be vaguely interested on going on holiday with to the Facebook event and wait for them to confirm their attendance.
Some on-the-fencers will click ‘Maybe Attending’. These are the kind of people you shouldn’t be friends with.
This can really come in at any time during group holiday planning and the trip planner role is usually fulfilled by only one member of the group, otherwise known as the Bossy One. This is the person that will make the rest of the group get their shit together and take decisions. If you’re the kind of person that likes to make Facebook polls, or even just create Facebook events in the first place, then this travel planner job is probably the one for you. That brings me neatly on to my next point.
If you’re flexible-ish on dates, it’s probably best to get your location down first and then search for the cheapest flights. So, figure out your location using one of the aforementioned polls and take it from there. (I recommend using Skyscanner’s ‘Anywhere’ search function for this stage, as it’ll help you figure out the cheapest destinations too).
It’s worth noting that this will probably cause friction in the group, especially if you have a range of daytime drinkers and museum aficionados in the group. You’ll get there eventually though, so DON’T GIVE UP NOW. You’ve come so far.
You probably already established a range of dates when people are free to travel, but, let’s face it, you’re hunting for the cheapest flights for this budget holiday, so the dates are kind of an afterthought based on how much you can afford to pay.
Of course, this only applies if you’re pretty flexible with your time and aren’t taking the Friday off to enjoy a long weekend girls’ getaway in Prague. If that is the case, then the location and date decision stages should definitely be swapped over.
Obviously you’ll each be paying for your own trip, but when it comes to making bookings its far easier to do them en masse, which means the use of just one group member’s credit card details.
It helps if you get a few of the more financially stable members (read: those that aren’t as far into their overdrafts as you are) of the group to volunteer for this, as one can pay for the flights, another can sort the accommodation, etc. You get the drift. Just make sure the fiscally responsible amongst you are OK with that and definitely make sure your aforementioned flaky friend group member doesn’t pull out once flights are booked.
Pin down those cheap flights, get the debit card details of the person willing to pay and go to town on that EasyJet website.
After you’ve got flights, get accommodation. You can try and find a hostel, but if your group is quite big definitely just hunt down an AirBnb. Everyone can poo in peace, rather than sharing bathrooms with tons of strangers, and you can use the kitchen to help you save money by cooking in the evenings.
If you do not include someone organised in your group holiday travel planning, then, your group holiday is not going to happen. Just as every friend group and night out needs a mum to get everyone home safely, a group trip needs a holiday planner extraordinaire. If you have two itinerary planning travel mums in your group holiday, that’s even better – the more the merrier. Except they might end up tussling it out over whose itinerary is better. Which brings me on to my next point…
When we were planning our group holiday to Portugal, we didn’t necessarily prepare for this. However, once we were in Portugal it became apparent that the paler skinned guys and gals in our group (yes, I was one of them) didn’t want to spend all day at the beach and risk going home looking like a barbecued prawn. So, it actually makes sense to have more than one trip itinerary option for day trips, activities and dining if you want to keep everyone pleased. Send the gingers to explore the city centre, while the tan aficionados sun themselves on the beach and for the love of god don’t book a package holiday. Do it yourself – it’s cheaper! And less tacky.
THE MOST IMPORTANT POINT when it comes to planning a group holiday is make sure that you don’t hate each other when it’s all over. This can be easily achieved by simply not seeing each other for three to four weeks post holiday, giving everyone time to literally and metaphorically cool off. And remember, no matter how awful it was at the time, the anecdotes will last a lifetime.
If you want to know how to truly successfully plan a group holiday, this is basically a selection of all the websites you’ll want to have permanently open as tabs. Obviously, they are mainly targeted at UK based travellers, but travel/ holiday planning websites like Rome2Rio (which is perhaps the most useful travel website I’ve ever come across) are pretty universal and reliable. (It’s worth pointing out that I’m not sponsored by any of these companies, I literally just think they’re dead useful when it comes to travel planning.)