Traveling with a group of friends or family, is a beautiful thing. There is nothing more exciting than making this memory together. But making it happen is not always the funnest, for the leader of the pack.
Sorry to say but, Think again...
I, myself, was always typically the travel leader of my group and didn't mind doing what it takes to get everyone on the same page. I was always willing to "take one for the team" because I trusted in my own abilities (abilities to be OCD and annoyingly organized and thorough), and nothing made me happier once everyone started enjoying the fruits of my labor. This is probably why I ended up becoming a travel advisor, I might as well make a business out of a passion.
When I take on a new group trip, sometimes I see my old stressed-out-self in the leader, and I want to reach through the phone and hug them and let them know "Shhh, everything is going to be ok" lol! I can't do that, so I figure the next best thing is to share this with all those who are trying to coordinate a group trip out there.
7 REALISTIC TIPS FOR PLANNING A GROUP TRIP | from a travel professional
- Try to identify signs of a traveler who isn't ready to commit // Face it, some people might say YES when they actually mean NO. Especially if everyone is communicating in a group forum for others to see. It's important to be sensitive to the fact that maybe not everyone can afford the same trip, or to spare the time, or maybe they just don't want to go and are embarrassed to say it. Speak to them individually and get a feel for whether they are serious about going or not, and do not pressure them. Your "perfect" trip will not be perfect when someone is there by force or obligation.
- Options for Everyone // Its really helpful if you suggest a few types of accommodation options. Maybe someone wants just a place to sleep, whereas others might want a really nice view, etc. You want everyone to be happy, and people have different travel-styles.
- Keeps the finances clean // There is nothing worse than when I hear "I put it all on my card and I trusted they were going to go!". Everything that CAN be reserved and paid for individually, should be. Sometimes you might be forced to use one payment method, and then need to be reimbursed by friends. That's ok. But my recommendation is get your money up front and then make the reservation. Tools like Venmo and Chase QuickPay have made it so easy to transfer funds instantly to your friends. Use them!
- If you're in, you're in // When there is a joint cost (e.g. a home rental), I recommend that everyone be clear that once they give their approval to book it, that they will be responsible for their share of that cost whether they end up being there or using it or not. Things happen. People get sick. People cancel. But if everyone agrees on 1/6th of a cost, then it's not fair that the others get stuck paying more because someone flakes. See Tip #6
- Travel Insurance is a must! // With everything going on around the world, etc. Just cover yourself with some type of insurance coverage, just in case! The cost is small compared to your investment in this trip. Especially in cases where things are prepaid and non-refundable. And if you have kids, don't hesitate either. You might be fine, but what if your child gets sick and then you can't go? You can check your American Express to see what they cover, or I can also provide quotes for Allianz which is who I use.
- Breathe, and remember you are on Vacation // This is supposed to be fun! So once everything is in order, don't forget to do some special things for yourself and the group. Get that selfie-stick, establish a hashtag, have a drink (but not too many!), set your out-of-office reply and respect it!, etc. And if anyone gets on your nerves, just go do something else and leave them to their crazy ;) Don't let anyone stand in the way of you and your good time and amazing memories.
- Don't be scared to consider a Pro // If you are able to hand the reins to a travel advisor, that should be your best bet for any group travel. Hesitation usually comes from the concern that it will cost you more. That isn't always the case. I, myself, don't actually charge any required fees AND I usually get extras from the hotels which you wouldn't be getting on your own. We know what they are doing, and can easily guide you in collecting the proper data from everyone, and have things go smoothly.