10 Tips for Planning a Big Group Trip

Planning a trip can get quite messy. You have to make arrangements for transportation, food, accommodations, and the activities that you may want to try while on vacation. Imagine organizing an itinerary, reserving accommodations, and trying to find a suitable mode of transportation–all while coordinating with your entire group. But if you are organized and work together, the planning stage that you so dread can go much smoother. That’s what we found out when planning a Grand Canyon photography trip this summer. Here are 10 tips to help you do just that:

Have three or four people present a range of destination options.

Don’t be surprised if only a handful of people in your group are active during the planning stages; many people enjoy simply tagging along. Get a few members of your group to do research and suggest the places your group may want to go. This shortlist makes it easier for everyone to cast in their vote and makes deciding where to go much faster.
Wine tasting on passport dayPhoto Credit: Simon Davison’s photostream

Designate one person to be the group organizer.

This person acts as a coordinator and mediator while the trip planning is going on. It helps if this person is decisive, so that if the group cannot decide on something, he/she can make a decision for the group.

Assign specific tasks to different members of the group.

Planning can go smoother when there is a go-to person for each task, so try to get everyone to give a hand and help out. Have someone in charge of finding accommodations for the group, another person to take care of making the transportation arrangements, and one or two others to help out with organizing the individual payments.

Have a rough idea of the kind of things you want to do.

Talk with your trip companions about the type of trip you want – do you want this to be a relaxing vacation where you can all hang out and chill, or are you looking for adventure? You don’t have to put together a detailed itinerary, but this can help you decide how long your getaway will be and narrow down your options of places to stay.

Look for accommodations that have rooms for big groups.

You and your trip companions will save more if you book a smaller number of rooms. For example, if there are ten people in your group, instead of booking five rooms that can accommodate two persons each, try to find a place that can accommodate four or five in a room, so that you’ll only need to book two rooms. Another option is to find a hotel or resort that allows an extra person to stay in the room for a small fee. Even though you have to pay extra, you’ll still spend less than if you had booked another room.

Finalize your headcount before booking accommodations and services.

Make sure that everyone has confirmed that they’ll be joining the trip before you make transportation arrangements or book a place to stay. Sometimes one or two people can make a big difference in the type of rooms you’ll reserve or even the modes of transportation, so be sure that everyone who says they’re coming along on the trip will be there. To make this easier, set a deadline for confirmation with your companions so that you can make reservations and organize transportation schemes accordingly.

Get everyone’s contact details, and make sure everyone else does, too.

This is as much a safety precaution as it is convenient. Having everyone’s cellphone numbers and other contact information can be very helpful in case of an emergency. It will help you coordinate with each other about arrival times, each other’s whereabouts when you’re not all together, and will help you look out for each other.

Set a time and place to meet on the day of trip.

Instead of picking everyone up individually, it’s more practical to meet at a specific time in a place that everyone can go to and then leave for your destination from there. This will help save time, fuel, and money.

Try to make meal arrangements before you set off to eat.

One way to do this is to call the hotel and inform them about the size of your group and to reserve a table during mealtimes. If you’ll be eating outside the hotel or resort, try to make reservations at the restaurant where you’ll be dining. This will help you avoid waiting long to get a table when you’re going to eat.

Allow yourselves a little time to break into smaller groups or go solo during the trip.

Even though you all know what you want to be doing together, some of you may want to try things that not everyone else is up for. Leave some time free for all of you to do your own thing. Not only will you get to do what you want, but it also gives you something new to talk about.