You can picture it already: relaxing with your closest friends, exploring new exciting destinations and laughing until your sides hurt. All the while you’re enjoying exotic food and making fantastic memories. All too often however, varying travel styles, personality clashes or different expectations can threaten to ruin a vacation with even the best of friends.
Use our 6 tips to plan a trip with friends where you’ll come home not only relaxed but closer than ever.
1. Get on the same page
Good consistent communication is very important throughout the planning process. Slow down and honestly discuss what everyone hopes to get out of the vacation before booking anything. Talk about where you’d like to go, what attractions you want to prioritize visiting, and how long of a vacation is feasible for all. Will you be together all of the time or will there be days to explore separately? Will there be one or two main planning leaders, or will you divvy up the responsibilities? Make sure everyone has a stake in planning and approves of the itinerary.
2. Agree on vacation style
Don’t be surprised if some want to spend time relaxing on the beach while others want to be up at 5 a.m. conquering a hiking trail. Some may want to take a cooking class in the evening, while others may want to sleep in and go shopping all afternoon. Address emotional, physical, and dietary restrictions. Talk about personal pet peeves, as well as anything to be specifically avoided. What kind of accommodations are preferred? Are you open to all-inclusive, group travel tours or cruise vacations? Are low-cost hostels or camping more your group style? Will you fly, drive or rent a car? What will the sleeping arrangements look like? When and how often will people want to eat? Flexibility is key so be open-minded about the possibilities so the whole group can come to a consensus.
3. Have the money talk
No one relishes the uncomfortable talk about how the money is going to work, but it is a vital part of trip planning. People often have different ideas when it comes to a travel budget, so it’s best to have honest conversations about money and to settle on specific agreements everyone can live with. Try to come to some common ground when planning a budget for accommodations, visiting attractions, meals out, and activities. Set up a central location (like a spreadsheet or online application) for organization everyone can access, a plan for payment deadlines and how payment will be taken. Decide ahead of time what expenses will be shared, split up or taken care of individually. Consider using an app like Tricount to manage group expenses on your trip.
4. Book early and plan for priority activities
Consider if utilizing a travel adviser would be easier than doing all the booking yourself. See if you can find group travel discounts and specials on tours or activities you want to experience. Decide ahead of time how much you want to do as a group versus how much time you’ll have to do your own thing. If there are activities not everyone wants to participate in, plan time to split up. More than likely, you’ll want some time alone to recharge and that is perfectly acceptable. Consider appointing each person (or couple) a day – or block of time – to plan on behalf of the group. When you talk out these details in advance, you’ll lessen the chance of wasting time on your trip trying to come to favorable decisions every day.
5. Plan for travel insurance
As much as everyone wants a group vacation to go perfectly, the unexpected can happen. No one plans to visit the cruise doctor because of the flu or looks forward to slipping on the pool deck and ending up with crutches. Be prepared by purchasing travel insurance so you’re covered for a wide variety of situations. Be aware that each traveler residing in separate households needs to secure their own policy. This means if you’re purchasing travel insurance for multiple travelers who don’t reside together, make sure to get a separate policy for each household. If traveling with your family who all have the same residence, you will only need to purchase one policy.
6. Decide to have fun, be flexible, and stay safe
Remaining flexible, while practicing patience and kindness to one another will go a long way. Be considerate of differences in activity level, eating habits, and sleep schedules. While you don’t have to be with the group every minute of your trip, agree to stay accountable to each other for everyone’s safety. That means no wandering away without telling the group where you’re going. Be sure everyone has each other’s contact information on their phones. Look out for one another and use common sense so everyone stays safe.
The best vacations with friends are those that are well-planned with open, honest communication throughout. Having fun and returning home refreshed are things everyone in the group will want, as will staying friends after the vacation is over. Plan ahead and agree on clear expectations to minimize potential problems later – you’ll be glad you did. Travel on, friends!
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