When Family Plans A Vacation Abroad | The Timeliners
How to Plan a Group Trip Abroad
Planning a group trip? Whether it's a family reunion, group of friends, or another occasion, a trip with more than a few people can take more pre-planning and logistics than any solo adventure. However, the thrill of sipping limoncello at a villa in Italy or watching the sunset from an Indonesian resort with 5, 10 or 20 of your closest friends or family members can make those initial extra steps worth it.
Decide who's going, how far and when.Sure, people love to think about traveling around the world, but make sure you don't start planning until the basics are decided upon and everyone has committed. It doesn't have to be exact. For example, you might decide in January that your family -- including 14 adults and nine children -- is available to reunite somewhere in Europe for 5-6 days either the week of June 11 or July 27. This is enough to move on to step 2.
Designate one person or a small team of people as the ringleader.Whether you have 8, 15 or 100 people joining you on your trip, you'll need one person or one team to take on the majority of the planning. Other group members can and should be included on most of the decisions -- where to go, what activities to do -- but you don't want seven people making 20 different dinner reservations. The larger the group, the more important this step is.
Decide on a price range.Who is going, and what are their budgets for this trip? Uncle Moneybags might want to spend at least 00 for a week, your parents were thinking 00 and your newlywed cousin was anticipating 00. Stick as close to the low end of budgets as possible to accommodate everyone. In this case, we might suggest a 00 budget, and ask the newlyweds if they'd either like to drive the rental cars or become the ringleaders for a discount, and perhaps Moneybags could pick up a group dinner or pay for the rental cars. One other thing you could do is to pool money for 'fixed' costs only. This would mean you would collect a certain amount of money divided equally by everyone for things like accommodation and transport. However other individual expenses like food, shopping and activities costs should be paid at the individual level.
Choose a location.While this sounds relatively easy, this is one of the most difficult steps. Twenty people aren't necessarily going to want to go to the same place or do the same things. Listen to what everyone wants, and ask lots of probing questions. While your group might want to go to places as different as New Zealand, South Africa or the Caribbean, you'll see they're all looking for an active vacation near the ocean. You might end up choosing a location based on activities or proximity rather than destination.
Research the area.You finally have your location, participants and budget. Where do you stay? What will you do? Buy a guidebook or look through the internet for ideas. It sounds expensive, but renting a villa in Europe or large home in the Caribbean or South America is often cheaper than renting hotel rooms, especially if you take into account cooking at home.
Book your trip.Once you've researched the area and found accommodation your group likes well enough, book it. You now have the dates set in stone and members of your group can book their flights and transportation as far in advance as possible. Make sure everyone has their passports up to date and gets all of their visas and shots.
Gauge the activity level of your group.Check in with your group: Do folks want to hang out at the pool and talk about old times, or do they want to bungee jump or go on safari? Try to find the median level of interest and plan accordingly. Perhaps relaxing on the beach can be broken up by an eight-hour day hike around a volcano or samba lessons and a trip to the discotheque. With more than one rental car or by learning the local public transportation, groups can split up on occasion.
Create an itinerary for your group.Even with a group of friends or family members, an itinerary can be invaluable. Add everyone's cell phone numbers or local contact information, arrival times, and a loose schedule of daily activities, restaurant reservation times, etc.
Go!All of this pre-planning will have paid off once you arrive at your villa in Tuscany, your eco-resort in Costa Rica, or at your spa in Hungary. Your group can enjoy time together instead of figuring out where to go, when and how. If possible, designate new ringleaders for the trip itself so the planners can relax.
- Hire a local guide for a day. The benefit of a local's perspective, especially when the cost is divided by a group, is invaluable. Besides, you'll get the inside scoop on all the best restaurants.
- Use a group travel planning site like triporama.com or yahoo's trip planner to invite and collaborate with your group.
- Remember: Not everyone will be happy with every decision. Remind these folks that they are only 1/10th or 1/100th of the group, and your memories of your time together is more important than the size of the pool or the lack of television in the rooms.
- Even if your group rents cars and breaks into smaller groups for many individual activities, make sure to plan several group outings ahead of time, including the first and last days to welcome everyone and say good-bye.
- If your group is all flying the same airlines, see if they offer a group discount rate. Same goes with hotel rooms.
- Create a yahoo or google group so everyone can send emails to the group, and share photos and stories after the trip.
- Make sure you and your ringleaders plan ahead as much as possible. It's always easier to ignore or change already existing plans than create plans once you arrive.
- There's a reason people say you should travel with someone before you marry them. Travel can be stressful and often brings out both the best and worst in people. Don't take disagreements personally.
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