So, it’s almost time for your annual get-away. An old group chat with your university mates got revived at just the right time and what do you know, suddenly you’re planning a holiday with a group of fifteen.
You do know these people pretty well back from days of downing pints in the pub and skipping the occasional lecture together but you’re still a little wary about committing the entire week of your holidays to them in a faraway country like Indonesia.
Well, don’t worry too much about that! Large group travel has a bit of an unfair reputation of being difficult and unpredictable, but once the logistics are out of the way, you may well find yourself having one of the most fun and novel getaways you’ve ever had! After all, the age-old adage of “the more the merrier” applies even more to travelling.
Clari Health has put together a complete guide for travelling in large groups so that your holiday fun is uninterrupted by sour experiences, so make sure to look through it before you jet off with your mates!
DO Plan a Detailed Itinerary Ahead of the Trip
While you may be used to free-and-easy, unplanned island getaways with your partner, keep in mind that you cannot opt for the same when you’re vacationing with a large group of friends or family. You want to have a good time, but the problem is that every one else also wants to have a good time and your ideas of a good time may not necessarily match up. So make sure you get everyone’s opinions on places to go, things to do and cuisines to try and then plan an itinerary that includes a little something something for everyone.
This way, everyone gets to at least tick some off their favourite activities or food off the list and everyone also gets to try things that they may not have tried if they hadn’t travelled with a group! The planning also saves you the classic crossroads situation – just imagine a group of ten (including your grandma) standing under the sweltering sun in the streets of Brazil for an hour trying to decide where to go next and miserably failing just because there are too many opinions!
DON’T Be Fixed on Your Ideas and Preferences
If you know that you’re a bit of a control-freak or that you have rigid stances on what you want and don’t want to do, then you may want to practise the art of compromise. Your best friend and her boyfriend may be willing to go to that one seafood restaurant with the wonderful oysters every single night for dinner during your trip because you insist on it, but what about your ten other travel buddies?
Remember that the most valuable part of holidaying with a big group is your chance to have new experiences – would you ever have done coconut tree climbing or parasailing in your life if your sporty colleague hadn’t insisted on adding them to the itinerary? Open your mind to new things and you’ll find that you’ll have gained something valuable. Remember, we’re not asking you to give up on the things that you want to do – we’re suggesting that compromise is key.
DO Plan Your Expenses
You’re at dinner out with a bunch of your old colleagues whom you haven’t seen in the longest time. After the juicy steak is downed with a glass of wine and your dessert plate has been wiped clean there inevitably ensues a short and awkward silence – who’s going to pay? Or at least, who’s going to foot the bill first? Situations such as these are going to be inevitable and numerous when you’re traveling with many others.
You don’t want someone booking the flights and hotel rooms and having a sour experience with getting back their money from the rest. So your best bet is to get together and figure out and agree on an arrangement for expenses before you actually fly out. Here are some ways in which you can tread gently on the issue of money and avoid placing an unfair burden on one or two persons in the group:
- Use a tool or handy mobile app like SplitWise to keep track of shared expenses and settle any outstanding debts between your travel buddies
- Advise everyone to bring small change to the destination country so that everyone can contribute their share to pay for the bill
- Put together a common fund before you start for the trip or every morning during the week of the holiday
DON’T be careless with receipts and bills
Figure out the arrangement – as we mentioned earlier, an app like Splitwise may come in handy if the arrangements are such that one person foots the bill first. If not, pool some money together in a common fund so that it’s easier to pay it off when you have to pay for tickets or group activities.
Food might be a tricky issue as some people may go crazy with the appetisers and others may just opt for a sandwich and nothing else. In that case, it’s better that either everyone forks out exact change or if that’s not possible, one person picks up the bill and records how much he or she is owed. In this case, it’s vital that all the receipts, bills and records of who spent how much for what are kept safely in a folder or a separate purse so that you can get back home and have an easy time of sorting out the finances.
DO make reservations for everything in advance
In every group of ten, there’s a good chance that at least five are foodies. In order to avoid disappointment and miss out on that famous flat iron steak or that diner with the most amazing freakshakes, remember to reserve, reserve and reserve some more before you even get on that plane. If you or your mates have found that gorgeous Bali beach bar on TripAdvisor, it’s likely that other people would have seen it too and that it’ll be packed to the brim when you head down to it. All the more if it’s peak holiday season.
Google the bar, restaurant or that one island tour package and find its website – there’ll probably be instructions on how to reserve spaces for large groups on there. If not, ask the concierge at your hotel if they can help to make reservations and indicate that your group is unusually big – quaint little cafes may not have enough space to accommodate all of you at once, so you might have to split up before reserving if you really want to enjoy a cuppa there. Some websites may give you bulk discounts on flight tickets and hotel reservations as well.
Also, find out if there’re any reservation apps specific to your destination country that’ll give you sweet deals and discounts if you make a certain number of reservations. Your credit cards may also help with getting 1-for-1 deals or discounts, so look out for that sort of deal when you’re reserving.
DON’T start your day without confirming your mode of transport
Hopping onto a bus or booking a train ticket just minutes before the train departs just aren’t plausible options anymore when you’re with a group of ten. So discard all your solo-travelling habits and remember to plan your day so that you can decide how you’re going to get around the city with your group. Hiring a minivan for a day or for the entirety of your trip may be an option if you and your buddies are willing to fork out a little extra for the convenience and comfort. Hopping into an air-conditioned vehicle with plush seats that’ll take you straight to your dinner spot or back to the hotel after a long day sounds tempting, doesn’t it?
If that’s not an option, make sure that you reserve bus or train tickets for long journeys well in advance so that your group can remain intact. Keep in mind that due to the sheer size of your group, buses and trains may not be able to accommodate all of you, especially during peak hours. In these cases, be gracious, split up and don’t squeeze the life out of some poor commuter by attempting to fit the whole group in a crowded bus. Send a message in the group chat or have a quick chat with someone from the other part of the group to decide the meeting point for when you guys get to the destination, so that you won’t miss each other.
Group travel may be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life purely because you’ll be able to try so many different things with the bonus of always having someone who’ll want to try that particular food with you or go surfing with you! So keep these tips handy and avoid any unpleasant experiences during your next trip with a big group. And don’t forget to read up about travel health and figure out whether the group needs to take any measures (get vaccinated perhaps?) to stay safe before starting on the trip.