8 Tips to Successfully Planning a Group Vacation
So many of my friends have recently gotten engaged, married or turned the big 3-0! For such a major milestone, I've witnessed many planning group trips and special vacations to celebrate their big day. Group trips can be hard to plan and organize because you're dealing with so many different factors including destination, cost, timing and more! I've been asked by a few friends to help them arrange their travel plans and successfully pulled off my boyfriend Jermaine's SURPRISE 30th birthday vacay. Even while in the midst of planning my own, I've noticed a few things that can be helpful for others when putting theirs together and I wanted to share with you all! Be sure to share this article with someone you'd love to travel with! Chefchaouen, Morocco via Travel Noire
1. Pick a date and work backwards: Look at dates around your birthday or the time you want to celebrate and plan from there. Consider friends who may have children, major holidays, friends weddings and other things that may be going on during your potential dates. Even though people have off of work for holidays, keep in mind that holidays can typically be a more expensive time to travel so try to stick to an off weekend for your celebration!
2. Require a non-refundable deposit: Everyone says “I’m down!!” to do something until money is involved. Trust me! After (attempting) to plan several group trips and successfully pulling off Jermaine’s surprise 30th birthday vacay, this is always the case! I have found that by sending out all of the info and requiring a deposit, people are more likely to be serious about their commitment. Make it a small amount of $50-100 that will lock the guests in as a “yes” and be deducted from their total payment at the end. People are less likely to flake if they have money already invested in the trip!
3. Don’t apologize about your invite list: If you are planning this trip as a celebration for an important milestone in your life (30th birthday, engagement, bachelorette, etc) think about who has really supported you and who you want to be there for the next decade/chapter of your life. That’s an easy way to figure out the answer on who should be on your list! Don’t feel bad or think that anyone is less than a friend if they aren’t invited… remember, this is about you and your day!
4. Offer a payment plan: Getting a request for a large lump sum of money at one time can be super overwhelming! Many of your guests would probably want to make your trip but may find it easier to receive an option for a payment plan. Offer two payment options and a final payment date. Allow your guests to pay half by a specific deadline and then half by the final date or require the entire payment by the final date. Most times, if they have the funds, they will send them over right away to get it out of the way.
5. Organization is a major key: Have your ideas put together and planned out as early as a year in advance. I know, this sounds crazy but it cannot hurt! If you have your thoughts and ideas together, you can start sharing with your guests about 6-8 months prior in order to give them time to request off of work, make plans for their kids and save their coins. Communicate with your guests and share all of the specific details about what their money will be going to, when you plan to book the house, if their flights are included, etc. Planning accordingly lets them feel assured about the complete organization of the trip!
6. Don’t offer too many options: When looking into where to stay, pick 1 or 2 locations you want to stay and send them out, allowing guests to vote on their top choice. By offering your guests multiple options or the ability to suggest new places, the planning process will get more confusing and harder to lock a place in. If someone does not like the place you picked, maybe this is not the trip for them.
Havana, Cuba via @vanella_ice_cream
7. Don’t over plan: Everyone enjoys traveling for different reasons. Some enjoy visiting museums, some travel for the food and others simply to relax and unwind. Don’t put pressure on your guests to do everything that you want to do each day. A good suggestion is to make a list of the top attractions in the city or ask for some suggestions from them and then ask each person to pick 1 thing that they “must-do” off of the list. I’ve also found that having one “group day” works well to get your time all together in and leave the other days open to wherever the wind blows you!
8. Have a theme day: Make it fun! Ask for your guests to participate in a day where everyone dresses in a certain theme. Suggest everyone wear a hue of a certain color, 1 specific color bathing suit or dress or have fun decorations or props you all can take pictures in! People love an excuse to dress up and it will make your trip so memorable!