I learned on my trip to Australia in 2016 that group travel can have its pros and cons. But I didn’t really have to plan that trip. We were all there for a wedding and my pal organised the Airbnb, so all I had to do was book us a wine tour and tell everyone to transfer me the money. Not too much trouble.
But for my 30th birthday in Copenhagen, I planned the whole thing.
This was a proper trip where I had to think about an itinerary and what everyone’s budget was. It was way harder.
So I thought I would share a few tips I picked up from this experience. Because I think all of us at one time or another have to organise a trip for a big group – whether it’s a birthday celebration, a girls trip or a hen do. Here goes.
Tips For Organising Group Travel
Use Doodle to manage schedules
If you’re not going away for a specific occasion, like a birthday, you should totally use the Doodle website to manage everyone’s availability.
I do this for everything I organise with my group of friends from Christmas meals to holidays and it’s super helpful. You just pop in possible dates for the trip and send the link to everyone. Then they all go on, say when they can and can’t do, then you can pick a date when everyone can attend. Perfect.
Let everyone book their own flights
I think the best thing is to let everyone book their own flights. It’s too much hassle to work around everyone’s availability / schedules and book flights together. Give them the date that they need to be in the destination and don’t plan anything big that day in case people want to arrive late.
In Copenhagen, we arrived from 11am to 8.30pm, so early people could explore on their own but late people weren’t missing out on anything. I couldn’t get the day off work so arrived late. And some of us live in different areas so left from different airports.
Also with budget airlines you sometimes have to pay to sit together which some people will want to do and some people will not.
Trust me, it’s just easier for everyone to sort themselves out with this bit.
Don’t give them too much choice
This lesson is one I’ve learnt a few times. Just don’t give a big group of people a choice.
Y’know when you’re going away with your partner and you’re eyeing up a few hotels? You send all of them to them and ask their opinion right?
When you’re travelling with 11 other people, you don’t want all of those opinions.
There’s a 99% chance they’re all going to have different faves and different opinions. Which means whatever one you go with, people feel like you’ve chosen someone else’s opinion over theirs. Drama.
If you’re the one organising the trip, you’re the one that gets to make that decision. Of course take into consideration people’s budgets and needs, but make the decision then send it out to everyone to approve. If they don’t see any alternatives, they’ll likely be happy with whatever you’ve chosen.
Airbnb is best
Just my opinion, but Airbnb is ideal for group travel.
You have somewhere where you can all be together, whether that’s having meals together or having pre-drinks before going out.
Airbnb also lets you split payment between all of the attendees. I actually didn’t do this, I just paid for it and told everyone to transfer me the money but it can be a burden on the person paying upfront. So I think it’s really cool that Airbnb do this.
You can also share the itinerary with everyone once you’ve booked. That way, whoever is getting there first has access to all of the checking in details and the homeowner’s contact details. So you don’t have to worry about giving them all of the information.
Make a rough itinerary but don’t be strict with it
With a big group, you want some kind of rough itinerary. That way everyone knows the plan and you know where you’re heading first. But also so that anyone who arrives early doesn’t do anything you had planned to do with everyone the next day, y’know?
But the thing is, you can’t be too strict with it. People want to have fun and enjoy their fun weekend with their friends. So just know that you will likely go off-piste at some point in the day.
Saying this, if there’s anything you’re desperate to do, or you think everyone would love, make sure you put it at the beginning of the itinerary. In Copenhagen we followed my plan all the way to lunch then ended up in the pub and fobbed off the rest.
It was my birthday after all. Jagerbombs it is.
Remember everything is a lot slower with a group
Just following on from the above, when you’re making your itinerary or rough plan, just be aware that large groups are a lot slower moving around. More people means more toilet breaks, more drink stops, more photo opps. So it just takes longer.
Think about what you’d normally achieve in a day in a new city, then halve it.
Book a table for dinner
The thing about group travel is that it’s near impossible to just walk into a restaurant and have a table for the whole group. Do a bit of research before you go and find somewhere affordable that you can pre-book.
Get a list of good bars and restaurants in each area
But don’t plan EVERY meal. I think you should plan one big meal at a restaurant but wing it for the rest of it.
Just make sure you research some nice places in each area. That way if you’re in the meatpacking district of Copenhagen and everyone’s hungry for lunch you can just check your list and be like – yep, War Pigs is round the corner and does good food and cheap beer. Done.
Otherwise, everyone will shout different restaurants or you’ll be walking around for ages trying to find somewhere. No-one wants that.
If you’re keen on the destination, stay an extra day
Finally, if the destination you’re visiting is somewhere you really want to explore, book an extra day there. Just because no matter how well you’ve planned the trip, with a big group it’s hard to see everything you want to see.
A couple of my friends did this in Copenhagen and I really wish I had too!
There you have it, a few tips for planning a group trip with your pals. I hope it’s helpful! Do let me know if you have any more tips for this kind of thing.