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Vacation. Who doesn’t love it? Sure, planning one can be stressful, but there’s a reason why “getting away from it all” remains at the top of everyone’s list.
One way you can travel is by planning a group vacation with your friends. We know, it sounds stressful! But a group holiday can be amazing, especially if you have the right tools for the job.
Here’s how to plan a group holiday with friends, ranging from organizational tips, apps, and websites you should check out.
1. Make Sure Everyone Gets Along
The first thing you need to do when you plan a group trip is making sure all trip mates are friends, or at the very least get along. Group dynamics can be complex, and when you bring money into the picture tempers can flare.
We speak from experience.
When you plan a group trip, someone will have to front the cash for your shared activities. A lot of hotels, Airbnb rentals, and guided tours only allow you to book under one person. If that person is left holding the bag, it’s crucial that you can trust the other members in your party to come through and cover their own expenses.
It’s also important to ensure that no one will argue over agreed-upon group activities and that everyone enjoys being in each other’s company for extended periods of time. There’s no use planning a group vacation with people you dislike.
2. Set a Timeline for Trip Planning
Another thing you need to make sure of is that everyone stays on the same page. You need to have a timeline for when things will get done, and that there are clearly designated roles for each task.
Different people might have different ideas about how your trip should go. If you aren’t communicating what those ideas are, you might end up with two people booking entirely different, conflicting events.
To avoid this:
- Set up a delegation of tasks that everyone’s happy with.
- Work out amongst your group when planning for the group trip needs to be done.
- Stick to your trip timeline to keep things moving smoothly.
If your trip is long distance—especially international—it is recommended that you have most of your trip planning and paperwork done three months in advance.
A simple tool like Google Keep can help you organize your travel plans with collaborative travel checklists and notes so that everyone is in the know.
3. Read Online Reviews at TripAdvisor
One of the most important things you can do when planning a group trip is scouring the internet for online reviews about the places you’ll be staying at. Often you won’t have first-hand knowledge about the places you’ll be visiting, so you’ll need that extra insight.
A great source of online reviews is TripAdvisor, which is one of the biggest online travel platforms available. It is generally touted as a reputable source of information, and is used by a staggering 490 million vacationers each month.
4. Set Up a Shared Space on Google Sheets
Surprisingly, Google Sheets is a great way to plan a group trip. It is also one of those apps my friends and I have been using for our own group vacations for many years.
By setting up a shared document, you can tabulate overall expenses and set up a schedule. You can also collect data on hotels, potential Airbnb rentals, travel-related websites, and group events.
If you want to use this program to its maximum potential, it can be repurposed with the help of Google Sheets templates also. There are web, Android, and iOS versions of Google Sheets available.
5. Keep Track of Shared Expenses With Splitwise
Recently, my friends introduced me to Splitwise: a bill-splitting app that’s perfect for planning group trips.
Splitwise is incredibly simple. After you create an account, you can join a group “trip” or add friends to a group trip, then calculate how much each person owes for shared expenses. The entire system is very transparent, and once people put in their payments, Splitwise shows who has settled and who hasn’t.
There are web, Android, and iOS versions of Splitwise available.
6. Save Money With Airbnb
Number six on our list is probably one of the best-known travel apps out there.
Airbnb is a home-sharing service for people who are looking for travel accommodations on a budget. While Airbnb has played total havoc on the long-term rental market, it remains an invaluable tool for vacationers, especially if you’re planning a group trip for four or more people. When your group is big, hotel rooms can get expensive, fast.
There are web, Android, and iOS versions of Airbnb available.
When you’re traveling internationally, using your phone to text or talk can get expensive. There are international plans you must buy for your mobile provider. If you don’t have a new SIM or an international plan, you’ll either get hit with roaming charges or you’ll find yourself out of service.
Because of these expenses, having a chat app like WhatsApp or Telegram is essential when planning a group holiday.
Both apps are tied to your phone, but WhatsApp uses your Wi-Fi to send text messages. Telegram is similar but is also noted for its security features.
Additionally, both apps allow you to set up group chats, making them perfect for planning a vacation with friends. This way you’ll never be out of touch.
8. Find a Good Ride-Sharing App Like Uber
While the licenses of you and your friends may be valid in another part of the country unless you’re doing an official road trip you might want to avoid driving. You won’t be familiar with the local terrain or driving conditions, and you’ll want to relax. If you get into an accident while on an international vacation, you probably won’t have the same health coverage or insurance.
If you’re closer to home, you can also do car rentals. Kayak.com is a website that helps you find car rentals based upon the date and location.
9. Use Restaurant Apps Like Zomato
Feeding a large group can be difficult, both for table space and budget. It usually costs more to go to a restaurant as a group. There’s also the long wait to get to a table and several dietary needs to consider.
Fortunately, there are a lot of restaurant apps out there that make planning a group trip easier. One of our personal favorites is Zomato, which allows you to search for nearby restaurants based on rating, popularity, price, type of meal, and cuisine (i.e. American VS International).
There’s also Uber Eats, for delivering food straight to your hotel or Airbnb.
10. Find Last Minute Deals on HotelTonight
Finally—if Airbnb is not your style, or you left your accommodations to the last minute—it’s best to use other hotel apps to plan a group holiday. HotelTonight is an app and search engine for last-minute accommodation.
Plan Your Group Vacation Stress-Free
It’s important to note that when you’re planning a group vacation sometimes things can and do go wrong: there are so many variables to account for. However, planning doesn’t need to be complicated. If you use these tools and your organizational skills to plan a group trip, you’ll have a great time with your friends.
Looking for more useful travel information? Here are some tips on how to find cheap flight tickets with Skyscanner.