Think group travel is easy? Think again.
Picture the scene.
You’re a few rounds in at the pub. You casually glance at your phone and a KAYAK Price Alert has popped up on your screen. “Cheap flights to Greece!?” you exclaim – and before you know where you are, you’ve got the whole team rallied around for a group adventure.
Then, of course, as the person who initiated the holiday, you will automatically be placed in charge of the planning. You were so young, so naive. But before you descend into total panic, check out these savvy tips that will help you to plan (and get through) your group trip with ease – whilst keeping your friendships intact.
Respect the inevitability of the WhatsApp group
You can’t fight it. With 21st-century group travel comes the inevitable WhatsApp group. And no matter how convoluted the conversations become, this chat, in all its meme-laden wonder, will set a precedent for the mood of the holiday. As the chief planner, this will be your biggest challenge. Any practical questions you try to ask will be lost in a sea of undecipherable emojis and screengrabs of countdown screensavers.
Keep calm, there are ways to combat this stress. Take the real planning out of this thread and get yourself a spreadsheet/checklist to keep tabs on who’s done what. Perhaps form a subgroup of actual planners. Or, if it gets to the point of pure desperation, just mute that group and go back to old-school phone calls.
Book your travel like a pro
So you’ve picked the destination. You’ve tagged each other in Facebook posts about the country you’re visiting. It’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. Rather than juggling multiple bookings, get yourself set up on Trips *cough* shameless self-promotion *cough* – KAYAK’s handy virtual travel assistant. Not only will it have your itinerary and travel receipts for flights and hotels, but Trips will send you travel alerts and allow you to collaborate and share travel information with your fellow travellers with ease. Handy, huh?
Pack like pros
When it comes to buying and packing for your trip, divide and conquer. Keep costs down by going for hand-luggage only. You could even share one case for liquids or other holiday essentials (and by that, we mean flamingo lilos for the villa pool). Or, skip cases altogether and travel light with just an overnight bag. That’ll save your group plenty of airport time.
Avoid people getting weird about money
As generous as you may be feeling, a good rule of thumb is for everyone to book their own flights and then pool money together for the accommodation. This will stop an awkward argument over who owes who money and avoid the “oh, I don’t get paid for three weeks, can you cover me?” messages. Plus, you won’t have to worry about names and birthdates being incorrect when you book.
For everything else, whether it be splitting meals or renting a car, useful apps like Splittr will help you evenly split bills throughout the trip. Or sign up for a Monzo account, which will allow you to send your friends money straight away through its handy app – without the hassle of knowing bank details.
Breeze through the airport
Right. Let’s get one thing straight. We are not advocating lying to your friends. But… We all have that one friend who will arrive at the terminal when you’ve all got to the point of deciding whether or not to abandon them. All we’re saying is, you might want to give that person an airport arrival time that’s half an hour earlier than the actual time you need to be heading through security. You know, for the sake of the wider group’s morale and all that.
Know your limits
Group travel is all about compromise and it’s good to be pushed out of your comfort zone from time to time. Broaden your horizons and try to say yes to as much as possible (without compromising on what you want to do too, of course). Saying that, there are always exceptions. If the whole group is planning to bungee jump off that famous bridge and you’re petrified of heights, maybe give it a miss. It could end up being such a traumatic and negative experience that it’ll ruin the rest of your trip. And you’ll only end up resenting those that made you do it. Instead, why not offer to be the photographer? Your friends will appreciate you capturing that once-in-a-lifetime moment for their social feeds.
Factor in some alone time
Everyone needs a break sometimes. Factor in some time for yourself during the trip – whether it’s doing an activity that no one else is up for, or just spending an hour at the beach with a book or podcast. Give yourself a chance to hit the reset button so you can be involved in group activities as much as possible throughout the rest of the trip.
Make some memories
For most, the planning ends when the flight touches back down on home turf. But for those travel planning pros like ourselves, there are still a few things to do. Set up a Google Drive folder to share all the travel snaps. Organise a night-in to go through the photos. And then, erm, silently bow out of the holiday WhatsApp group…