A trip with your friends or any other group getaway can make for a great time but it also has the potential for disaster if not done right. The key to an enjoyable trip is in the planning – by following these steps you’ll increase the odds of success.
Hold a Meeting
Whether you get together in person, via Skype or another method, holding a meeting is a must to make sure everyone is on the same page. You’ll need a leader, so if you’re too busy, perhaps having just gone through the process of buying a new home among Phoenix real estate or have an insane work schedule, it’s important to work that out first so that the entire process is streamlined. Discuss how each person hopes to spend their time on the trip, whether they’re looking for relaxation, adventure, or a mix of both, for example.
If you don’t already know where you’re going, that will obviously be one of the most important decisions to make together. Ideally, the destination shouldn’t involve too much planning, with built-in activities such as a lake in the mountains, a beach or an island. You’ll need to determine a price range too by discussing everyone’s budgets – once that’s done, try to stick to the lower end to accommodate all.
A survey of group leaders by The Group Travel Leader found that around two-thirds bring their groups on international trips which means flights are an important part of the planning for many. If your destination will involve flights, you may be able to take advantage of group rates. Typically 10 or more people will qualify you for discounts or other perks like the ability to switch passenger names. That could be a big help if someone ends up not being able to go at the last minute. Arguably the best way to track prices and flight schedules to determine what’s best for the group is a whole is with Google Flights.
Sometimes the accommodation can be a destination in itself, like a ranch vacation where everyone can enjoy activities like horseback riding and hiking, and end the day around a campfire. If that’s not an option, you’ll want to be sure that the accommodation you choose offers convenient access to things like shops and restaurants, and/or the ocean, a lake, river or scenic trails, for example. When booking a hotel, keep in mind that most will offer complimentary suite upgrades or discounted rates for booking more than 10 rooms so be sure to ask. If you plan to organize a dinner or cocktail gathering at the venue, you’ll likely be added to its group VIP list, treated as a higher priority.
Create an Itinerary
Once airfare has been booked, accommodation is secured, and activities planned, create an itinerary for the group. Be sure everyone has a copy and include the cell phone numbers of each person who is going. You might want to use Google Docs and/or Google spreadsheets which makes it easy for everyone to use, editing items if need be or adding specific requirements and/or activities they’d like to take part in.