By Cat Zuniga
If you have a core group of friends or family, and a special reason for celebrating (or not), you may want to consider a group vacation.
A group vacation is great way to take a break from the daily grind and share leisure time, new experiences, piña coladas, and margaritas with close friends or loved ones. Whether your themed vacation is adventure, leisure, cultural, romantic, or relaxing, there are plenty of options for group getaways.
With strategic planning, patience, and a lot of communication between all parties involved, you can put together a group vacation that will be filled with good memories and fun times had by all. And if you’re wise enough to hire a travel professional to help with the planning, your friendships might still be intact by the time the vacation is over.
With that said, here are a few simple tips to help you plan the group trip of a lifetime.
Someone has to be in charge. Democracy doesn’t work so well in situations like these. On the other hand, nobody likes an autocratic or unreliable leader. Make sure whomever you put in charge will not only get the job done but will get it done right – and make it enjoyable for all concerned.
Set Parameters. It’s smart to establish parameters when deciding details of the trip, starting with who’s coming. Sometimes this is an easy decision – the immediate family, the college “gang” — and sometimes it can get dicey, especially when someone who’s expecting to go is left off the guest list. Be conscious of politics and potential hurt feelings when you start. After you navigate that, the other parameters — time of year, kind of vacation (relaxing, adventurous, luxury) – will seem simple by comparison.
Set a Budget. Cost is the other big and potentially contentious issue. Know your group’s budget before you start, and present it to your travel professional up front. They’ll work within that budget – and you’ll be amazed at how far your budget can go! You can even set up an account that participants can deposit money into, to make it easier for the group leader to make reservations.
Choose a Destination. Once you’ve set the type of trip and the budget, you’ll want to start focusing on a destination. Getting input from the entire group is important, but it’s important that everyone can see each other’s input, so if the person wanting the Alaska cruise is voted down four-to-one by the Cancun crowd, they’ll know why. Online polls are great for this; once you’ve settled on a destination (or even a general idea of a destination), hand it over to your travel expert and let them run with it. That’s what they’re there for!
Find Accommodations. Once your travel expert knows a destination, they’ll work with you on narrowing down the various hotels and resorts that fall within your budget.
Time Management. It’s a good idea to not have everyone spend all their time together as a group. Plan for some free time and alone time, and don’t clutter the schedule with activities just for the sake of having group activities.
So if after all that you find yourself asking, “Why group travel?”, here are a few reasons why I think group travel is a great choice:
Cost-Effective. Traveling with a group can help you reduce travel expenses, since everyone will be sharing the costs of accommodation, transportation, food, and even activities. If your group decides on an all-inclusive international destination, groups can take advantage of special discounts and amenities. And what’s the best way to learn about these great extras? That’s right – use a travel expert!
Bonding With Loved Ones. Group travel gives you the unique chance to interact with family and friends on a different plane, and bond in ways that you don’t do on an average day. You can share your adventures and experiences with one another, making travel more fun and memorable.
So Many Reasons To Go. There are many different kinds of themed-group travel, so the reasons for going really are endless. Family reunions, Rotary clubs, wine clubs, girlfriends’ getaways – these are just a few of the many reasons why people do group travel.
Endless Opportunities. Just as there are many reasons for going on a group trip, the options for destinations, lodging, and activities are similarly endless. Whether you’re looking for a beach house in Florida, a block of rooms in Jamaica, a food tour of Provence, or anything in between, you have a unique opportunity to truly live it up with some of the people that matter most to you. So don’t blow it! Talk with a travel professional to get some ideas and help with planning. You will not be disappointed.
If you end up using a travel professional, you’ll most likely be encouraged to purchase some form of travel protection – either individual or group coverage. You might not think about this, because it’s not what you do for a living. However, as travel professionals, we’ve seen every scenario in the book, and there’s a reason why we encourage travel protection. You can’t predict the future — so why take the chance of a potential loss? You have the ability to eliminate those problems … so do it. It’s a no-brainer!
Cat Zuniga is an award-winning travel specialist. She specializes in tropical vacations for families, groups, destination weddings, and honeymooners. Visit her today at http://www.TarverdiTravel.com.