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Unlock the Secret to Effortless Group Travel! 10 Simple Hacks for a Stress-Free Trip with Friends. Expert Guide Inside!
Imagine yourself, your pals, and your recent arrival in Argentina. You’re excited for a fantastic two-week trip, but before you’ve even had your first empanada, tension begins to arise as you debate about how to divide the costs and how to fit in everything you want to do given that everyone in the group has vastly different interests and spending limits.
Even if you go alone, preparing a trip can be time-consuming. However, if you bring along a few companions, the situation can become even more complicated.
The good news is that by putting in a little effort and having frank discussions before you leave—and even before you plan your trip—you can lessen stress and make sure everyone has the vacation they desire.
Here are ten suggestions for organizing an unforgettable trip with friends (taking family? Check out our guide to family vacations!)
10 Easy Stress-Free Trip Suggestions
1. Choose the right friends, and set expectations from the start.
First, let’s address the most obvious point: Just because you have a lot of friends doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be a good travel companion.
Making good decisions when selecting your travel companions and being honest about your expectations can make the difference between a group vacation you’ll never forget and one you can’t wait to forget. So how can you tell if you’ve never traveled together if you’ll get along?
Think about factors including personality, finances, and interests. That doesn’t mean you need to be perfectly aligned on each of those things, but think about where you can appreciate the differences, and where they could cause friction.
For instance, if you simply don’t enjoy museums but your art-loving friends want you to participate in every activity as a group, you can grow impatient by the time they’ve spent three hours at the Louvre.
On the other hand, if you have independent pals who are okay with spending the afternoon apart, you can pursue your interests while they spend an additional 90 minutes exploring Etruscan artifacts.
Have a frank discussion with your friends—and yourself—around the following:
- Will they want to map out each hour, or are they open to spontaneity?
- Do they want to go, go, go, and see it all, or do they prefer to take things slower?
- Are they night owls who want to party until dawn or early-birds who want to rise with the sun?
- Is their budget more street food and hostels or Michelin-starred dinners and luxury hotels?
- Do they want to spend all their time as a group, or occasionally separate and do their own thing?
2. Be upfront about your finances.
When friends have differing financial expectations for the trip, money can lead to a lot of animosity. Inform your buddies if they wish to stay at a resort but you can only afford a hostel dorm. It serves no purpose to incur debt in order to appease another person.
Be honest up front about your financial capabilities and your preferred methods of spending. Even though you and your friend may be on the same spending plan, you might discover that they prefer to spend their excess money on shopping rather than a wonderful meal.
Be specific about how much you can afford for the entire trip as well as how much you’re willing to spend on lodging per night, how much you’re willing to spend on meals and activities, and how you’re going to prioritize your spending. Again, you don’t have to agree, but you should establish what would happen if your priorities and finances diverge.
3. Give some thought to how you’ll choose your location.
The hardest aspect of organizing this trip might possibly be choosing a destination. How do you pick a location that everyone enjoys and is reasonably accessible?
One alternative is to ask each of your pals to list their top three to five favorite locations, taking into account the amount of time you have to travel and everyone’s financial capabilities.
This is simple to do by email or on paper. Check out Kayak’s new Trip Huddle tool for a more technologically advanced method. You select your desired dates and destinations after signing up.
Following voting and input from all participants, Kayak will suggest several hotels and vacation homes for your group. If you’re part of a big group and would like not to read through hundreds of messages to stay up to date on the conversation, it can be handy.
Regardless of how you vote, compare everyone’s responses to find any commonalities. Consider the factors that are common if there are none. Did everyone opt for a city in Europe or a beach town? This may enable you to reduce your options.
Another choice is to base your decision on airfare and travel to the location with the best offer. Although the group might have been considering London, if nonstop tickets to Paris become available for $250, they might have said “oui” to a different thought.
If you’re traveling for a number of days and arriving from different locations, be sure to pick a location that is doable for everyone. For instance, if you live in Los Angeles, you might be up for a 3-day weekend in Hawaii, but your friend in NYC might find that to be too far to go for a shorter trip.
If you sign up for Going, you may choose various airports to follow, allowing you to know whatever bargains are available for friends who are dispersed throughout the US.
4.To discover cheap flights, use the appropriate resources.
Other than signing up for Going, there are a few tools you may use to discover the cheapest prices, especially if your vacation dates and locations are varied.
The useful “Search Everywhere” feature on Skyscanner displays the least expensive flights departing from your airport over the given time period.
The map in Google Flights Explore is comparable. When you enter your departing airport(s), a map of the cheapest destinations will be displayed for either specific dates or a range of dates, such as a weekend, one-week, or two-week trip within a particular month. To limit your possibilities, you can either move the map or type in a specified region.
5 Get planning as early as possible.
The planning process can become slower the more people are involved, and speed is your friend when looking for low-cost flights.
You should start looking for tickets as early as you can, especially if your dates and destination are set or you’re traveling during a busy time of year, like the summer or holidays.
Two to eight months in advance is the sweet spot for the greatest airfare pricing. Set up flight alerts to start keeping an eye on costs and get notifications when they drop.
Talk with your pals in advance about what dates you’re all free if your dates and destination aren’t set and you’re open to going wherever there’s a good offer.
This will reduce back and forth and allow you to act swiftly when you see a fantastic deal. Also keep in mind that the 24-hour rule generally allows you to cancel a flight within 24 hours of booking it, allowing you to take advantage of deals while waiting for your friends to confirm the travel dates.
6. Use apps to keep your finances sorted.
It’s crucial to keep track of everything your group divides, including airfare, lodging, extracurricular activities, and meals. To accomplish this, you can make a straightforward spreadsheet or utilize a program like Tricount or Splitwise.
Tricount was designed as a way for roommates to manage shared spending, but as it is totally adaptable, you can use it for your vacations instead. The way Splitwise operates is the same.
Venmo is a terrific choice for sending money to your friends quickly if you want to keep things simple (albeit it’s not currently available everywhere).
7.Carefully review refund procedures to avoid being left with the tab.
A cautionary tale that is frequently told is a group of friends who plan an amazing vacation and one of them makes the reservations using her credit card.
Up until the friend who booked it all is left sleeping alone in a nonrefundable room for six pals, the other friends cancel one at a time.
When you can, reserve refundable hotels and tours, and whenever you can, have each guest make their own reservations for nonrefundable items.
When you can’t, like when paying for a hotel together, get payment up front and make it plain that any payments that are nonrefundable are just that—nonrefundable. Anyone who abruptly cancels will forfeit their portion of the nonrefundable fees.
When renting an Airbnb space, you can use the “Pay Less Up Front” option to make a partial payment. This will give you time to collect everyone’s share of the cost before the remaining balance is due.
When traveling in a sizable group, you can call the hotel and make a “room block” reservation if you require a number of hotel rooms (often at least 10).
This guarantees a set number of rooms until a particular date without requiring full payment from you. Your friends make separate payments when they reserve a room as part of the block.
If you wind up needing fewer rooms than you anticipated, no one is directly responsible because any unsold rooms after the cutoff date are released.
8. If you want to book your seats together, it may cost you
You’ll need to take a few precautions to ensure that everyone in your party is seated together if everyone in your group is purchasing their own airline tickets.
- Reserve early. Waiting until the last minute to make a reservation raises pricing and increases the likelihood that you will only have middle seats available.
- Avoid using fundamental economics. Less benefits are included with the cheapest pricing, such as the inability to choose your seat until check-in. Even while there’s a chance you might still receive seats together at that moment, you can upgrade to main economy or pay an additional fee, if allowed by your fare, to select your seats in advance if you want to assure it.
- Arrive early at the airport. If none of the aforementioned solutions are suitable for you, get to the airport early. If there are several seats available overall, you can ask the attendant at check-in to see what seats are open, and he or she will probably be pleased to accommodate you.
9.Give yourself some alone time.
Taking some time aside from your group can help keep everyone stress-free because, as was already discussed, it is impractical to assume that everyone wants to engage in the same activities always.
It’s okay to go it alone if your buddies aren’t interested in something you want to do, as long as that expectation was stated up front. You can do everything you want to achieve with a little bit of separation, and it may even make you value your time spent together more.
10. But don’t be afraid to let your friends push you out of your comfort zone.
There is a great difference between not wanting to do something and wanting to do it but feeling anxious. You might not typically be into the notion of cliff jumping in Hawaii or doing a via ferrata in Switzerland, but there is a big difference between the two.
In the latter scenario, some moral support from your bolder pals might be all you need. If not, you can always stay around nearby or take pictures of their journey.
The appeal of vacationing with friends is that. When things go wrong, they are stressful and anxious, but when everything works out, not only will you have an incredible adventure, but you can also find that you grow in unexpected ways.