Going on vacation is one of the best feelings EVER. I travel so much that I often get approached by friends who are interested in planning a trip together. My answer is almost always an earsplitting YES! I know solo travel is a big thing, but I actually love sharing my adventures with good company.
Sometimes I travel in very small groups, but there are other times when I’m with so many people, it feels like we’re shutting the whole damn city down. Group travel in beehive-sized numbers might sound like a recipe for d-r-a-m-a, but I’ve had success by sticking to a few rules.
1. EVERYONE IS FREE TO DO SOMETHING THEY WANT TO DO
…with or without the others. If someone wants to be a rogue ninja, let ’em! The entire trip does not need to be spent with everyone in the same place doing the same thing. Everyone should have a little breathing room and a chance to check something off their list that might not be in the group’s itinerary.
TL Flashback: I traveled to Bali with two friends and one of those days, Coribbia just wanted to spend the day relaxing, while Jannae and I wanted to venture to Nusa Lembongan. Coribbia wound up staying behind, while Jannae and I went on a fantastic island adventure together.
Always use good judgment before wandering off by yourself…no need to raise everyone’s blood pressure with an unannounced Houdini act. If you’re abroad, you can make sure you’re accessible via phone using several options, which include buying a prepaid phone, using a local SIM card for the country you’re in, or buying an international SIM card. Utilize the buddy system in scenarios that call for it. The point is: do your thing, but make sure you do it safely.
2. DO SOMETHING FANCY!
This is a personal goal of mine every time I take a trip, whether I’m by myself or with others. The term “fancy” may mean something different to you than it does to me, but whatever your definition is, plan something really special for the entire group to take part in. On most group trips I go on, we often tend to save some kind of grand finale for the last night of our trip.
TL Flashback: During a trip to Vegas, we were rolling deep with a group of 18 people, so we rented a party bus on the last night and painted the town red together. We pulled our snazziest outfits out of our suitcases, gathered in one of our suites for an epic pre-gaming party, and then hopped in the party bus that would escort our drunk, yet classy asses all over Vegas. It was a memorable night, and one that brought us all closer together as a group (the open bar on the party bus helped with that part).
3. SCHEDULE GROUP OUTINGS AND GAME NIGHTS
Even though you all have different interests and may want to do different things, plan out a few activities you can all do together. The bigger the group, the more important it is to schedule your shindigs in advance.
TL Flashback: For her fiancé’s birthday, my friend Shara did a Real World themed trip and rented a mansion in New Orleans. She planned out group activities for all of us, which included a pajama jam, Flip Cup tournament (girls vs. boys, and we absolutely demolished the boys), poolside BBQ, and nightly adventures into the streets of New Orleans. She also made reservations ahead of time at delicious seafood restaurants for us to eat at as a group.
Create lasting memories where everyone is enjoying each other’s company. Whether it’s staying in for a life-altering game of Flip Cup or taking over the city one bar at a time, do it with your friends around.
4. LEAVE THE PETTINESS AT HOME
There may be one person in the group you don’t really care for or even can’t stand to be around. LET IT GO. Decide to call a truce for the duration of the vacation. Do not ruin the trip for yourself or others by being awkward and filling the room with tension because of your negative feelings towards someone. When in doubt, indulge in a little wine to loosen you up (unless you’re an angry drunk; then just ignore that).
TL Flashback: When I was in college, I went on a road trip to Panama City with several of my friends a week after a breakup…and since my ex already paid for his portion of the trip, our terminated relationship didn’t stop him from coming along. AWKWARRRRRD. We made it work though and left all the pettiness behind in our dorm rooms. If you don’t think you can bury a hatchet for the sake of having an amazing time, maybe this trip isn’t for you. You can always plan something else.
5. GET THOSE GROUP DISCOUNTS
If your group is large enough, guess what! You just might qualify for a group discount. Everyone likes to save a buck or two, so you’ll be sure to please your comrades when you present them with any money-saving options you find. If you do a little research, you just might find that you are eligible for a special group rate for an airline, hotel, or attraction. If you Google “group travel discounts” you’ll see exactly what I mean! So start your Internet search and take advantage of what you discover.
That’s it for my short list of group travel tips that are essential for having a great vacation. The next time your friends want to plan a trip together, share these suggestions with them and plan an epic, drama-free adventure. Group trips are great when everyone is on the same page.
Enjoy your adventure together!