Where’s the camera? Is my phone charger packed? Did I remember to lock the door? Wait! Let me just check I have my passport again (for the 56th time)…
If this sounds like familiar pre-holiday transit then you are either A. exactly like me or B. used to travelling with someone exactly like me. Organising yourself to travel in a couple can be stressful enough, let alone organising a large group. Many of us wouldn’t dream of travelling en mass due to the predictable stress factor, but with a little pre-departure preparation and communication, travelling in a large group can be a lot of fun.
You could say writing this post is very timely of me as this weekend I have organised a weekend mini-cruise to Amsterdam for me and 9, yes 9 female friends – and it’s not even a hen do! I know what you’re thinking, I’m mad, and I probably am. I am envisaging some questionable navigation skills, endless giggles, a little too much wine and far too many pairs of heels in tow. But having a love of travel and working at Superbreak I decided to take on the challenge, and thought it only fair to pass on some words of wisdom to anyone else planning to travel in a large group.
Whether you’re planning a holiday with the extended family or in charge of herding a rowdy stag party, the principles of organising a large group are exactly the same…
- Communicate ideas before you go
The best way to make sure everyone is happy on the trip is to listen to everyone’s preferences before setting off. I set up an ‘Amsterdam’ email thread with my friends so we could all discuss ideas such as budgets for the trip well in advance. Alternatively, why not get your group together over dinner or a coffee? This way of sharing expectations is a great way to avoid any later conflict as it is an opportunity for everyone to make suggestions.
- DON’T be spontaneous
I am all for a bit of spontaneity now and again, but when it comes to leading a large group, organisation trumps last minute decisions every time. Arriving at your destination with absolutely no plans will leave you wasting valuable time trying to make decisions on arrival.
- Draw up a list of activities
Do some research of the top attractions, sights, shows and even restaurants in your destination and make a short list of which you think your group would most enjoy. Before you go, present the shortlist to your group and let the majority votes decide which ones you will visit. This is exactly what I did with my friends for Amsterdam and we now have an agreed hit-list for our trip so we can hit the ground running!
- Make sure everyone’s interests are covered
Many group holidays often involve people of different genders, ages, and interests all with varying budgets. As the organiser, it’s important to consider if there’s something in your itinerary that everyone will enjoy. Is there enough entertainment involved for the kids? Can everyone afford that restaurant? Will it be too fast paced for Grandma Jean? The more diverse the group the trickier it is to find a balance, but it’s definitely do-able!
- Appoint a ‘team-leader’
Once you’ve got your decisions in place about where to go and what to do, you need to appoint a member of the group in charge of making logistical decisions. A group leader plays a pivotal part in the smooth running of a group trip as they make crucial decisions such as meeting times and rendezvous points. It’s also their job to communicate these to the group. The organiser of the trip often steps into this role, so no prizes for guessing who will be leading the Amsterdam trip this weekend (god help me!)
- Pre-book, pre-book and pre-book
Did I mention pre-book? In order to save you and your group valuable time and money, pre booking tickets is essential. Lots of attractions and shows offer generous discounts on group bookings and having bought your tickets in advance often means you can skip lengthy queues. Plus you’ll get that really smug feeling when you and your group jumps straight to the entrance.
- Make dinner reservations
Similarly, making a restaurant reservation in advance means you will often receive a warm welcome from waiters instead of a look of fear before they awkwardly start shoving tables together. It’s important to remember that restaurants often add a service charge onto the final bill for large parties (usually 8 or more) so be sure to remind your group of that when budgeting for your meals.
I truly believe these simple tips are the key to a smooth-running and stress free break for any large group. By next week, they will have been tried and tested by yours truly after my weekend in Amsterdam, so be sure to check back to find out how I got on. Wish me luck!
Are you organising a group trip away? We’d love to hear about it!