How to Plan a Group Vacation With Minimal Drama

Few things spark dread in me as much as an invitation to join a group vacation. At 29 years old, the idea of ​​going on another girl’s trip full of wine to Nashville or coordinating a “relaxed” couples vacation in the mountains is almost as enticing. to me as my annual pap smear. The last time I traveled as a group was this past April, where eight adults rented a villa in Anguilla (say three times as fast.) Clashing personalities, passive aggressive group chat, was confusing. financial spreadsheets, and stress in trying to make everyone happy. all at once was enough for me and my partner to swear by the group trip for good.

While traveling can be a great way to build connections and make lifelong friends, it can also be stressful on relationships — especially when you’re stuck with the wrong travel friends. A 2022 survey sponsored by Exodus Travels found that 69 percent of travelers say the right companion can make or break a trip. This is why many people, like me, narrow it down to a select few, such as partners or siblings. Some people hate group travel so they fly solo. In a 2021 survey of more than 2,300 independent travelers, an average of 56 percent said the reason they were alone was because they wanted to do the they want, when they want, without restraining them.

This raises an interesting question: Can I travel as a group hindi suck? At some point in the future, I’ll have to wear my big-girl pants and attend a friend’s bachelorette weekend or milestone birthday in Miami or Vegas. When the time comes, how can we avoid arguing over which restaurants to go to, or who will pay at the end of our meal?

Kat Jamieson, blogger and founder of the travel app, With Love From Kat, says it all depends on planning and setting expectations. “The best thing everyone can do in a group trip is be on the same page about finances before leaving,” he said. Meals, tickets, toilet paper for the house — all of these need to be considered in advance, and thoroughly documented during the trip, so that there is no confusion when it is time to cash out. “It’s better to be super detailed before everyone leaves so there are no surprises.”

But, I know from experience, no na it’s simple. Despite a running tab on Splitwise, the group vacation is an unpredictable beast. Here are the top tips for avoiding mess in paradise, and how to deal with it when it arises.

Expert tips for planning a * beautiful * group vacation

1. Choose your travel companions wisely

Your adventure buddy (or friends) has united the most important piece of the group vacation puzzle, so tell all the experts interviewed for this piece. “So much of it depends on who you’re traveling with and what they want to get from the trip,” said Mike Parker, general manager of trips at Atlas Obscura. “I have dear friends who I think would make me angry if we had to spend a week straight on the road together, and some of the best co-travelers I’ve ever had are people I barely know. before flying. “

The solution, Parker says, is to choose people with similar travel interests as you. If you’re someone who wants to travel from hostel to hostel, don’t invite the person who prefers luxury, 5-star resorts. Similarly, if you’re the type of person who wants to splurge on fancy drinks and Michelin-star restaurants, find a travel companion who can do these things with you. “Find out what you like on a trip and find travel companions who share your interests,” he says.

2. Set a budget

Alex Simon, CEO and co-founder of budget-based travel app Elude, says finances are one of the biggest sources of vacation conflict. “Different incomes, spending preferences, and vacation styles among groups can translate into conflict over spending money on accommodations, excursions, and even meals,” she says. “Finances will always be the elephant in the room, but to make a group vacation possible, it’s important to have a clear understanding of everyone’s budgets and boundaries, as well as set your own.”

Once you’ve measured everyone’s budgets, it’s more important to stick to them. “A good rule of thumb is to make the person with the lowest group budget comfortable with travel plans,” he said. Noticed.

3. Build in free time (or set expectations of a loose itinerary)

Fun fact, folks: You don’t have to do everything together, even if you all appear in the same place. Ravi Roth, LGBTQI+ travel expert and host of Ravi travels the World on Youtube, suggests that everyone should be comfortable with a loose itinerary. “Be open to the group separating,” Roth said. “People travel for a variety of reasons. One person in your group may thrive with Instagrammable photo opportunities, while another person may just want to read by the pool. People fights when people aren’t talking. I suggest having a talk before a potential trip and each person presenting what they want to do. “

Don’t be offended that your friends want to read by the pool — just let them read by the pool. And plan for it forward of time, with things like plenty of rental vehicles or access to public transportation, so you can successfully and safely separate.

4. Talk, then talk more

Again, things are more likely to go awry if everyone knows what to expect before hand. Talk to your group members before leaving to discuss itinerary planning, dinner reservations, how to pay for expenses, and other logistics. “If the cards were on the table before the trip, you’re probably all on the same page,” Roth said.

That said, don’t be a bulldozer either. There’s a fine line between running point in logistics and suddenly steamrolling into what the rest of the group wants to do. This is, after all, a group trip, so listen to the opinions of your travel companions. “As long as everyone is involved in decision -making, they will feel more with them and more likely that conflict will not happen,” Jamieson said. “Open communication and dialogue are key!”

5. Be flexible

When did you last go on a perfectly perfect, completely stress -free vacation where nothing went wrong? The answer is never, right? Because things are happening. Flights are canceled, credit cards are freezing, bad weather is going on, and plans are changing. Don’t dramatize. Just roll with the punches.

“Often, things happen on one trip and someone might want to deviate in a different direction,” Roth said. “Be prepared to be adaptable to the itinerary and not get stuck in your own way.” And when a larger itinerary change pops up (which can happen), go with the flow. And travel with people who can afford to do the same.

“The best people to travel with are your friends or family who are willing to compromise,” Simon says. “You can’t find a group of people who want to do the exact same thing. Therefore, the best qualities to look for [are] someone who is flexible and fun and excited to comply with all wishes and make the experience enjoyable for everyone. ”

6. Leave the planning to others

If you really can’t decide on a travel companion, but want to meet people interested in the same cultural experience you have, join an organized tour. “Just knowing that you can be with people who have a similar approach and are ready for a little adventure makes a big difference,” Parker said. “If someone else is setting everything up, there’s less to negotiate with your fellow travelers and less to find out right away.”

A quick Google search will deliver hundreds of organized travel tips that you can join based on a myriad of different demographics and travel preferences. Some tours, such as Eldertreks (ages 50+) and Contiki (18-35) plan tours based on age. Groups like WiFi Tribe and Remote Year host professionals who can work remotely. Companies like Atlas Obscura, Wild Women Expeditions, and Intrepid Travels plan their tours according to themes.

“Focusing on one theme helps,” Parker said. “[For example] we offer some incredible food trips that really dive into the culinary scenes of places like Lisbon and Oaxaca. Not everyone wants to spend a week eating with adventure, hanging out with people at the local food scene. If you take a trip like this, you can be sure that your travel companions will like the same kind of experience you do. “

And if there is a conflict …

    • Rely on your resources: Can’t decide between snorkeling and a sunset cruise? Sushi restaurant or a steakhouse? Ask a local, your host, or your hotel to weigh in. “If you’re staying at a hotel with a concierge, they can provide a lot of reviewed suggestions for the area, as well as local treasures and hotspots,” Simon says as an example. “They’re always a hit, because people are eager to learn more about the culture of the places they’re visiting.”
    • Get a beat: All the experts agree that the best thing you can do when your group starts to have a prank is to relax with each other. “Sometimes travel can bring out a different part of a person,” Roth said. “Stress levels can be high. Comfort levels can be depleted. Wait.” Take a walk, relax by the pool, meditate for 15 minutes — give yourself time to cool down and meditate before reacting.
    • Talk about it: Parker said that if there’s a disagreement, a five -hour car ride nearby or a plane ride back to your town are probably not the places to be affected. Nor is group chat (things can get messy quickly). “If you’re hanging out in a nice hotel at the end of the day with nothing left on the agenda, it can take a lot of pressure from a tense conversation,” he says. “Talk about it in a low-pressure setting.”

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