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Don’t adjust your computer. You’ve landed on the right post. I’m taking a brief siesta from writing about solo travel for the woman over 50 to discuss how to plan a group vacation that your friends will love.
I’m writing this article while on a group trip to Miramar Beach, Florida. And I see a lot of things that definitely could be approved upon. While this trip doesn’t suck (hello, it is Florida….the beach…for God sake – I mean how bad could it be) there have been some things about it that have been mildly irritating.
While there’s no way in hell someone on a group trip isn’t going to be irritated or pissed; you can decrease collateral damage by having a plan.
In this article, I will be discussing how to plan a group vacation that will be so successful; so much fun that your friends will want you to plan the group trip every year. It can be done.
How to plan a group vacation with friends
So, it’s your turn to plan the group trip, and you don’t know where to start. One of the things you want to ask yourself is what skillset are you bringing to this vast undertaking? Is it your leadership skills? Or maybe you can stay calm under stress? Or perhaps your gift is party-planning or knowing how to stay organized? All of these skills are essential to making your group vacation a success.
But what if you lack one or all of those qualities? Is it time to panic? No, it’s time to assemble your team.
Recruit a partner or two to help you
No one person is perfect. But put together a few folks that have a particular set of skills, and you can move mountains. Or plan a helluva group trip.
The following are qualities that are important for your trip planning team to have:
- the ability to ask questions and listen to the answers
- delegate tasks
- creative thinking
- ability to inspire
Assess what your strengths are and recruit for those skill sets that you think you’re lacking or just don’t wanna be bothered with.
I recommend having no more than 3 or 5 people ( and that’s counting you too) on your trip planning team. Having a team will make decision making easier should you have to take a vote on certain parts of the itinerary.
Vote on a date for the group vacation
Settle on the date for the trip. Start the planning process as soon as possible (at least a year before the trip). To arrive at a suitable time for the group trip that works, I suggest using Google Forms to create a poll then vote on dates. For more information on how to create a poll or survey through Google Forms, click here.
Google Forms can be used throughout the planning process to gather feedback on crucial details.
Open the lines of communication
Communication is vital when planning a group trip. Keep folks updated through either setting up a closed Facebook Group, by email or through a group travel app such as Tripit. You want to be able to create a forum for people to ask questions, follow the trip planning process, and get updates on the itinerary.
It’s also a great way to ask questions of the group whenever you need a group consensus on topics like destinations, where to eat, type of accommodation, etc.
Communication was a big issue with the group vacation that I was a part of. One person was making the decision and everyone in the group, although irritated and not thrilled, went along with the decision. There was some talk of mutiny and an uprising, but nothing became of it.
We didn’t know much about anything (other than how much money we had to chip in) until a few weeks before the trip.
We were told it would be in Sandestin, Florida which doesn’t exist – it was actually Sandestin Beach Resort in Miramar Beach, Florida. We weren’t given the group itinerary until we had gotten to our destination.
I came this close to pulling out before the payment was due because I was getting frustrated. But I had promised to attend, and this was one of those times where relationships might have gotten strained if I had canceled.
Communication is vital in planning a group vacation! The group should be part of the planning process, even when there is a planning committee in charge.
For more information on how to set up a Facebook Group, go here.
The spreadsheet is a great way to keep the group in the loop and keep the planning process on track!
Agree on a budget
The budget is one of those things you will want the group (as opposed to just your planning team) to agree on as a whole. Once you’ve set up your Facebook group or if you’re notifying the group through email, you will want to ask the group how much each person is willing to pay either as a whole or per categories such as accommodations, group activities and group meals.
Once an amount is settled upon, you need to stick to the budget when researching prices. No one likes surprises or ambiguity when it comes to paying for stuff, so once settle upon do not go over. Remember to keep everyone updated once you’ve reached a budget amount.
And speaking of money now is the time to discuss how payments will be collected. A great app for splitting expenses between group member is Splitwise. Click here for more information.
Settling on a destination
First, choose a theme or type of destination by taking a group vote or survey. Keep it simple with the choices. For example, you might want to vote on either, beach, mountain, city to or international destination. For example, my group chose a beach destination.
Once you’ve settled on the type of destination, send out a communication to the group for destination suggestions. Narrow it down to 3 destinations. Research each destination using the following criteria:
- the average cost of flights to/from destination – airfare rates are usually cheaper for groups of 10 or more
- cost of public transportation
- options for accommodations
Time to send out another survey of to the group to vote on the destination. Make sure that you add as much cost detail as possible so everyone can make an informed decision.
Give the group a deadline to complete each survey and stick to it. You don’t want to drag this part out because it’s time to start looking for accommodations. Our group went with Miramar Beach, Florida.
Picking an accommodation
Now that you know where the group is vacationing. It’s time to start researching accommodations once the group has decided on the destination. Most destinations will have the following choices for group accommodations:
- House Rental
Each four-bedroom home slept about 5-6 adults per cottage and came with the following amenities:
- Daily maid service
- spa products
- en suite bathrooms for each bedroom except for one
- full kitchen with dishes and cookware
- patio with grill overlooking a pond (some of the houses’ bedrooms came with a balcony that either faced the golf course or lake
- golf cart and bicycle rentals available for a fee
- free parking for two cars per house
The cost of the home rental at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort worked out to about $500 per person for a 7-day stay. Along with the above amenities, the group had access to the pool, tennis courts, and workout facilities. Our homes were in walking distance of shopping and dining.
I was impressed with our accommodations. I could see myself doing my vacation at the Sandestin Beach Resort…every year. Overall, even with the lack of communication, the trip turned out to be enjoyable but only after talking myself down off the ledge.
Hell, I had paid for it, so I was determined to make the best of it. Sometimes, it’s all about mindset.
Planning an itinerary
Plan at least one group activity and one group dinner. Be sure to add this to the cost of the trip, so there are no surprises once everyone gets to the destination. Also, collecting money before the trip will keep you from having to chase down folks during the vacation.
Seven best vacations for a group of friends
Wanna know how to plan a group trip that will have your friends stoked? Picking a cool destination will guarantee your success! I’m going to share with you my picks for the best vacation spots for large groups of friends.
4. Chicago, Illinois – Chicago is my city, so I’m a little bias. But if your group is into art, food, and architecture, ya’ll love Chicago! And we have beaches! No saltwater stinging your eyes – no sir. Just the freshwater of Lake Michigan. For more information on accommodations, click here.
6. Galena, Illinois – Never heard of it, right? Galena is an adorable little town in the upper west corner of Illinois. Galena has a lot going on for it! There’s golf during the warm months and skiing during the cold months. Also one of my favorite wineries has a shop there – Galena Cellars. For more information on accommodations, click here.
7. Foley Beach, South Carolina – I fell in love with this cute beach town outside of Charleston, SC, during a visit a few years ago. It’s the perfect group getaway with its lovely beach cottages – close to the beach. Imagine that! And because the weather is beautiful here year-round, that means a nice group beach getaway is possible in during the wintertime. Click here to rent some beach cottages for your group!
Planning the perfect group vacation isn’t easy. You’ll want to do a lot of research. Make the task less stressful on you by relying on your group and your planning committee for suggestions. Be sure that you communicate to your group, so there are no surprises when folks arrive at the destination. A group kept in the loop means a group trip that will be a successful one.
Read more about Florida by checking out my article on things to do in St Augustine, Florida.