Like a lot of activities, traveling can be at its most fun when it’s something you do with a group of friends. The more the merrier, right?
Unfortunately, traveling with a group can get complicated fast. More bodies means more transportation costs. More voices means more opinions about what sights to see. More people means more opportunities for some poor soul to get lost.
Luckily, with a little foresight and planning, even the biggest flock can still be shepherded. Make like a sheepdog and get everybody on the same page with these important pieces of advice:
Look for group discounts
You know how when you buy groceries in bulk, you save more money than when you buy just one or two items at a time? The same principle often applies to flights, lodging, and activities. Hotels, for example, are often happy to offer cheaper tickets if you buy a whole bunch of them, the reason being they’d rather make a little less money on a guaranteed sale than no money at all on a room that goes unused.
Most hotel and airline websites will have information on group discounts, but it’s often worth the effort to call a representative directly. All the better to ensure your group’s exact needs are met and that the total cost is manageable for everyone.
On a related note, it’s usually a good idea to give a heads-up to any tourist attractions your group is planning to visit. Some activities can only accommodate so many participants at one time, so even if calling ahead doesn’t save you any money, it might still save you a headache.
Agree on a game plan
Just because all the members of your group have decided on a destination for your trip, let’s say Texas, that doesn’t mean everyone going there will have the same priorities. Try to get everyone together beforehand to talk about what sights they most want to see and what activities they most want to partake in.
Maybe the outdoorsmen in the group want to go horseback riding, while the history buffs want to visit the Alamo. One member might be a foodie looking to try some authentic cowboy barbecue, while the resident would-be real-estate mogul is more interested in scouting Austin houses for sale.
See who is most interested in doing what and try to make up an itinerary that pleases everyone. That might mean splitting up into smaller groups, but have no fear, the next section will help with that.
Keep in regular contact
If the Home Alone cinematic universe has taught us anything, it’s that it’s surprisingly easy for one person in a big group to get lost in the shuffle. Nothing puts a damper on a trip to Disney World quite like realizing you left a friend behind because he was posing for a selfie with Mickey while everyone else was squeezing into the van.
Make sure everyone in your group has a fully charged phone and that everyone has each other’s number. Putting all the members of the group in a single text conversation is a good way to stay updated without having to navigate a dozen threads. When splitting up, make sure each group has its own “leader” that the other groups can check in with. And just in case someone does lose their phone or runs down their battery, have everyone agree on an emergency meet-up spot.
Finally, don’t be afraid to go low-tech. When arriving at or departing from a destination, take a manual headcount. Better safe than sorry.
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