Take it from a person who had their first Disney experience completely ruined – you need strategies for group travel to make sure it’s not downright miserable. Whether it be long family weekends or a girls’ getaway- traveling with a big group can be stressful!
We’ve traveled in many different groups over the past few years of all shapes and sizes. Without a doubt, we love traveling in all forms. Traveling with a group can be amazing with careful preparation. Even if you’re flying across the world – it doesn’t have to be miserable? Which P.S. – the ruined Disney trip was miserable and I don’t know if it can be redeemed unless we’re at Epcot or getting a Butterbeer? (Which I did not get to do. **Insert sigh**)
Here are 11 strategies to make group travel seamless and stress-free!
Tip #1: Know Who You’re Traveling With
The biggest tip we have is to know who you’re traveling with. You absolutely cannot travel well with people you have nothing in common with. You just won’t enjoy it because everyone has a different idea of what relaxes them! If you’re traveling with a group of girls that love shopping and laying on the beach, but you can’t stand shopping or sitting still… that’s gonna be a long weekend for you? You need to find people who want to be at the same speed!
That’s not to say that everyone can’t go to Gam-Gam’s over long holiday weekends and have a great time. You just have to recognize that your entire family may not think going for a 4-mile hike to find a waterfall is fun? Weird right?
In those moments – calm yourself – and remember that you’re there to spend time with people. The main point of the visit is not the waterfall! Accept that you all may be doing different things throughout the days and that’s perfectly ok. You can still come together for meal times or the main events – it’s just fine.
Tip #2: Make group Travel Flights and Hotel Arrangements Before Any Other Plans
This should be non-negotiable. The last thing you want is to start planning a big trip and then put money in for something that everyone else isn’t fully committed to.
There are a ton of ways to save on hotels etc if you’re going in groups, but group travel is only seamless if you’re going to be traveling with other savvy travelers. Never start planning a trip on your card that you’re on the hook for without other people putting up the money first.
Even in our case, we went to New York last year and we got our own hotel and such figured out for our road trip group. We didn’t make plans based on the entire caravan of people going to New York. We had specific times to meet up with people at the big events; a Broadway show, a Met Museum Tour, etc. For everything else – it was going with the flow.
Going with the flow is easy after your flight and hotel arrangements are made. Things start to fall into place much more quickly after that!
Tip #3: Make Sure You’re Well Rested
Starting off the trip cranky and not well-rested is a recipe to set the mood of the trip off wrong. Not to mention that once you turn 25- having to be around a group of people can make you feel pretty exhausted. That 9 PM adult bedtime still hits you when you’re on vacation!
It’s time for one of our favorite phrases:
If you need noise-canceling headphones or an eyemask – bring them. Don’t be that person (or should we say – that Karen? ) that asks everyone else who’s having fun to be quiet. Get into your own little zone and go to sleep!
Tip #4: Pack Light
Oh, the little Fiats of Europe!! We went to Italy last year with a friend and backpacked all over the country. It was truly the only way to really get to see everything we wanted to see without the hassle of checking bags!! What we quickly realized is that taking any more than a backpack would’ve made group travel almost impossible in Europe!
The cars are small, the trains are small, and the plane storage bins are even smaller. Pack light and save yourself a ton of stress!
Like where our heads are at? Pin it for later!
Tip #5: Take Your Space
I (Shelbs) am an introvert. On every family trip whether it be mine or Ev’s family – I go to bed early. If hit a wall and decide that I’m done – I read a little, snuggle with Ev for just a minute, and life is good. I don’t do well on little sleep or hangovers from one glass of wine for that matter!
The point is: ‘Know thyself.’
If you know that being around a raucous party at midnight isn’t your thing – that’s ok. Take your pictures or play the board games that you want early and go to bed!! Even if someone tells you you’re missing out on something from the night – chances are you wouldn’t have enjoyed it if you were cranky and overwhelmed.
If you’re not the early to bed introvert but you just need a minute – go get coffee or take a walk.
Tip #6: If Traveling With a Partner – Take a Little Alone Time
When traveling with your partner in large groups – it’s good to take a moment to step away and connect. Especially if you’re traveling with family! Everyone gets a little overwhelmed with their in-laws. It’s natural that you’d need to step back and take a break?
Tip #7: Pack Headphones
Especially on trips with children around – if you’re like us and you don’t have kids – you need to pack headphones!! Any flight that has kids on it or even museums that you’re visiting that are loud in general? Put your headphones on.
They’re also great if you’re like us and you need to go to bed earlier than the group sometimes. There’s just no reason to be cranky and listening to some of our favorite music always helps us relax.
Tip#8: Split Into Small Groups For Responsibilities
If you’re headed to a cabin, a lakehouse, or even just someone’s house for a few days- there’s a high likelihood that the group will need to eat. The easiest way to make sure it gets done is to assign one part of the group food responsibilities for a night and then switch off. That could be cooking, that could be picking up food – whatever that part of the group is comfortable with.
There are other responsibilities that everyone can share as well. Some can watch the kids, some can clean up, and some can get things ready for the next day!
Tip #9: Pre-Plan A Few ACTIVITIES
Here’s the thing: with group travel – you can expect that you’re probably not going to travel the same way as you would by yourself or just with your partner. That’s not to say you won’t go do things with the group – but mostly expect downtime. A go with the flow attitude is what works best here!
If there are a few things you really want to go and so does the rest of your group – plan those ahead using the 50/50 rule. The 50/50 rule basically boils down to no more than one activity a day with a group that size. One of our favorite days while traveling in Italy as a group was when we went and did a scheduled tour at a winery – and then we just meandered through Chianti until we found another winery. Keyword – meandered.
No stress just a perfectly chill day!
If you’re with a group that’s not especially active – don’t be afraid to make your plans and go on an adventure solo. Especially if that means not missing out on something you really want to see in the region because no one else wants to go. Just make sure you take the time to also do things with the people on your trip.
Tip #10: Apps That Make Planning Group Trips Easier
As per the usual in the technological age – there’s an app for everything. Since group travel is something people have been doping for a long time – it makes sense that they made apps for everyone to use!
TripIt – One of the hardest things when during group travel is remembering everything. If you’re the planner of the group – try TripIt! You can collate everyone’s schedules and flights! Not only can you corral everyone’s information – you also get notified if your flights change etc. The InnerCircle feature is great when you need to share the itineraries with everyone.
Uber Events – If you need to transport a bunch of people at one time – Uber Events will help keep everything straight. It’s actually for business but business group travel exists as well! Especially if you’re a small business owner needing to plan work trips etc. – Uber Events makes getting to and from your locations incredibly easy.
Roadtrippers – You’re going to need to make stops so why not make them at cool locations?! We used this app on the way to Denver from Kentucky and got to see a couple of places we’d never seen before!
Tip #11: When In Doubt – Leave It To The Professionals
If you’re having a hard time locking down plans for 15 people – it’s probably not your fault. You might need the help of a professional travel agent. It’s their job to make sure things run smoothly. Not to mention that it’s much easier for family and friends to remain non-committal about planning with someone they know.
The added element of a travel agent getting paid tends to straighten things out much quicker and much faster!
If you found this helpful, pin it for later!
Until next time friends,