Traveling with friends can be an exciting and memorable experience. It can solidify existing friendships, allow floundering relationships to thrive and bring a group of friends closer together. Group travel can also be stressful and exhausting, however. You could spend the whole time surrounded by conflict, trying to cater to different wants and needs, all while wishing you’d spent your precious vacation time alone.
There’s no denying that a group dynamic is a delicate thing. Therefore, before you set off on your travels, it’s important to iron out the details of your trip to avoid conflict down the line. Here are the top five things you should consider when planning a group vacation with your friends.
1. Your Traveling Companions
Before you even book your plane ticket, you need to choose your traveling companions wisely. As lovely as it sounds, going on group vacation can be stressful, so it’s important to make sure you’re in good company. It’s not necessarily enough that you’ve been friends since high school, or that you all have similar interests, you also need to consider how well you’ll travel together.
Do you all want similar things from the experience, for instance? Do your body clocks roughly match up? If one person has all night parties and days on the beach in mind, and another wants to sightsee, there's going to be at least some conflict. Try to combat this issue by being selective about who you travel with and communicating openly with them from the start.
In certain situations (like bachelorette parties and weddings, for example), you won’t have much control over who you travel with. Bear in mind that you’re going to be at close quarters with these people for the next few days (or weeks), so try to resolve any residual conflict and make sure there’s no tension in the group. Meet up beforehand if possible, so that everyone can get to know each other before you travel. Remember: whether or not you’re organizing the vacation, it’s in your best interest to make sure the group gets along.
2. The Destination
Your ideal destination of choice will depend on the type of holiday you’re planning as well as your group’s specific requirements. For example, if you and your friends are looking forward to a week of Mediterranean sunshine and nightlife, you might bag yourself an Ibiza holidays deal. If you’re planning a family excursion with children and older relatives, you may prefer to vacation somewhere quieter and more secluded, like the south of Spain or Portugal.
It’s more than likely that at least some people in your group will want to travel somewhere different. In the case of a bachelorette or bachelor party, it’s usually up to the best man or maid of honor to organize the vacation; but even if you’re planning a traditional vacation, it still makes sense to appoint one person to be in charge. If your group can’t agree on a destination, try to find a middle ground or go with the most popular choice.
3. Group Accommodation
Before you even set foot on the plane, you need to find out how each person in your party travels. Some will be used to jet-setting around the world while staying in hostels or dorms, while others will be adamant about sleeping in five-star resorts. Of course, a compromise will need to be reached, but if you’re the one finalizing the decisions then be sure to take each person’s needs into account.
When it comes to accommodation, your biggest concern should be bedrooms and restrooms. If you have pregnant women, older people or children as part of your group, separate bedrooms and bathrooms are advised. You will also need to make sure the property you're staying in is accessible for anyone with a buggy or wheelchair.
Accommodation is one area you can’t afford to get wrong, as a lousy hotel or apartment could ruin your entire vacation. Opt for something affordable that still provides luxury, like a self-catered villa or condo with multiple bedrooms.
4. Group Activities
Just because you’re traveling as a group, doesn’t mean you need to (or should) do everything together. Remember that some people will be outgoing and adventurous; others will get worn out quickly and might rather prefer to relax by the pool than go rock climbing for the second day on the trot.
Tensions run high in group situations, especially when there’s travel involved. Avoid making things difficult by being flexible and relaxed about who partakes in which activity, and don’t shy away from doing these in separate groups sometimes – this will help everyone to feel less pressured and make for more interesting conversation over dinner. Of course, it’s a great idea to plan bonding activities, but always check with each person that they are happy to participate before you book anything.
You should also bear in mind that even the most extroverted people need “alone time” when traveling, so try not to pack too much in. Allow each person the space they need and don’t put too much pressure on situations to be too “group” orientated. If someone wants to go to bed early or would prefer to eat dinner alone, don’t make them feel bad about it – they’re doing what they need to do to conserve their energy.
In the same way that your friends all have different tastes and preferences, they will also have different budget constraints. Do your research before you book to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal, and be considerate by asking each person before making any major decisions.
Some group members willing to pay a little more to cover those with smaller budgets in the interest of staying somewhere more upmarket or going for a lavish meal – but they shouldn't be expected to do so. Always work out the cost of meals, activities, and accommodation before you travel to avoid awkwardness or others feeling bad. You should also discuss your dining and entertainment options as a group to ensure everyone’s on the same page and that there are no nasty surprises for those with tighter budgets.