Group holidays make for the best of times
Yet with all the hassle that comes with planning an itinerary, working out logistics and booking for multiple people at once, you could be forgiven for giving up on your group holiday before you even start.
To keep you on track and from feeling completely overwhelmed, we’ve put together some tips and advice to help you plan (and enjoy) your group holiday – whilst keeping your relationships intact.
Step 1: Think about what kind of group holiday you want
If you’re keen to take it easy, a villa holiday in the sun could be the one. Ready to take on the town? A centrally located, boutique hotel might be the order of the day. And if it’s a sports tour or cycling trip, you’ll need to be on top of the route, destination and transport.
Whatever your group holiday of choice, think carefully about who you’re going with, the dynamics of the group and everyone’s reasons for getting away. This sets the tone for everything else.
Step 2: Agree dates and budget
Settling on a specific time frame can be tricky, particularly with large groups. Generally, you want to pick your dates as far in advance as possible to give yourself the best chance that everyone’s available (and that there will be availability when it comes to searching for options).
Are you going for a full week or just the weekend? If the latter, how many days is everyone taking off work and do the flight times work in your favour?
Harness the power of technology and consider using the packed app to bring your group together and lock things down. The app lets your group vote on things like dates of availability, budget, destination and type of accommodation.
You can turn on anonymous voting to avoid any awkwardness (around budget in particular) and it lets you collect everyone’s passport details and dietary requirements easily, so you have them ready for later.
Step 3: Decide on your destination
Where do you and your group fancy going? Ski holiday or somewhere sunny? Home or away?
If you’re completely flexible or you’re driven by budget, Skyscanner has a great feature that lets you compare flights to ‘everywhere’ to find the cheapest destinations in any one month.
This is a great way to narrow down your destination preferences and remember, you could always use the packed app to get your group voting on their preferred destination, so you can make a decision the majority are happy with.
Step 4: Choose your accommodation
If you’re trying to keep costs down, you might consider booking four-, six- or eight-bed hostel rooms.
Sometimes though, you just need your own space, so renting a villa or holiday apartment might be for you. A big villa split amongst a large group can be a great way to enjoy some low-cost luxury.
Booking multiple hotel rooms can end up quite costly but it's often a good option if you want all-inclusive meals, plush pools or access to an onsite spa.
Whatever you decide, make sure your group comes to a joint decision.
Step 5: Get by with a little help from your friends
Once you’ve identified some things that need doing, ask someone in the group to help out.
It could be as simple as booking a meal for the first night away or looking up fun things to do in your destination, or you could split some of the big tasks up like booking flights or searching for accommodation.
If you’d rather kick back and let the pros handle it, start chatting to your packed planner free on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. They offer professional advice and put together a selection of the best possible options for your budget.
Then when it comes to booking it, everyone pays separately and everything is handled, from flights, through to transfers, accommodation and any in-destination activities.
Step 6: Communicate clearly
The successful planning of a group trip lives and dies by the communication. You need to get everyone onboard and committed to a specific plan, on specific dates, as soon as possible. Otherwise, things fizzle out. We’ve all been there.
So how best to communicate? Well, you can’t fight it. It’s the 21st-century which means that group holidays come with the inevitable WhatsApp group.
The thing is though, the WhatsApp group, in all its meme-laden wonder, can be a nightmare when it comes to holiday planning.
Any serious questions you ask about dates, destination and budget often get lost in a sea of emojis and screenshots, and the incessant notifications during the build-up are enough to drive some people mad.
The packed app is designed to help you sidestep this chaos, and brings calm order to the planning so you can get everyone on the same page. Save WhatsApp for the photo-sharing once you touchdown, and for reminiscing thereafter.
If you can get everyone to agree to dates, destination and budget, it’s looking good.
Step 7: Arrange payments
Money is often one of the prickliest issues when it comes to group holidays. Organisers tend to fall into one of two categories.
There’s the laid-back legend who’s happy to stick the whole thing on their credit card, safe in the knowledge friends or family will reimburse in due course.
If you’re lucky enough to have a friend like this, be a legend yourself and pay them back promptly.
Then there’s everyone else.
To avoid any undue headaches, it’s often best to get money from everyone in advance of booking. It may be a little awkward sending the 3rd WhatsApp reminder in a row but it needs to be done.
Having said that, if you book with packed you’ll avoid all of these problems because everyone pays separately anyway.
Step 8: Finalise details
Check your flights times, transfer pick-ups, accommodation check-in times, and any activity timings to avoid any last-minute surprises and make sure everyone knows where they need to be and what they need to bring.
If you’re super keen, or you want to save on airline luggage fees, share a packing list to ensure you’re making use of your luggage space.
Make sure everyone is checked in online before arriving at the airport, and ensure full names on their booking match their passports.
For large groups, it’s worth being on top of everyone's dietary requirements so you don’t end up at a steak restaurant with a vegan. If you’re using the packed app, you can request everyone’s dietary requirements easily.
Step 9: Book group holidays early
To find the best possible deals, book as early as possible. Flight prices change (go up) almost at random and depending on the destination, hotel rooms fill up quickly.
Who knows how they’ll operate in a post-Covid-19 world but at the time of writing, airlines only ever have so many tickets at the lowest prices, so you should beware that the price you see on Skyscanner may be significantly lower than the per person price when you book for a large group.
It’s always a good idea to visit the specific airline’s website and put in your exact group size before quoting prices to the group.
If you can, book flights together in one payment so you don’t end up sitting at the opposite end of the plane to your mates.
Hotels work in a similar way so book these as early as possible, and to guarantee tables, it’s often worth booking restaurants ahead of time, especially for really big groups where getting a table together can be tricky. Nothing derails a good time like a bunch of hangry folks marching from one fully booked restaurant to another.
Step 10: Create a kitty and make use of money apps
Skip the stress of awkwardly splitting costs whilst abroad by setting up a ‘kitty’, where everyone puts in a certain amount of money to be used throughout the trip for things like group meals and drinks.
Kitty’s aren’t for everyone though, and some people get fidgety if they don’t eat or drink enough to make up for it. If this is the case, then downloading a money-splitting app might be a good alternative. Tricount is a great app for splitting costs and seeing who's paid for what.
To manage your international spending, Monzo or Revolut let you take cash out abroad without being charged and also let you keep track of your spending with notifications and alerts. You can send money to each other immediately, in over 30 currencies, without the hassle of knowing bank details.
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As the great Winston Churchill once said, “Continuous effort… is the key to unlocking our potential.” Unfortunately, continuous effort is often required to get a group holiday off the ground, but this list of simple steps aims to break things down and will hopefully save you some time and energy throughout the process.
If you’d like help with a trip you're planning, give one of the packed planners a go in WhatsApp or Messenger – they organise group trips every day so they know what it takes to make them great and they get a kick out of making your life easier. The recommendations they give you won’t be more expensive than if you try and book everything yourself, and most of our customers think it’s a no brainer and keep coming back.
If you’re a dab hand when it comes to organising group trips and you think we’ve missed something, we’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page!