Going on a trip with friends can be an amazing bonding experience and a lot of fun. However, if the trip is not well-planned, things can fall apart pretty quickly.
For the mental health of everyone involved, it’s critical to put the extra effort into planning your trip’s events. Doing this will help to keep things running smoothly and relationships intact. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best ways to plan and ensure your next trip with friends is better than ever!
Talk About Your Travel Goals
If you’re planning a trip with friends, chances are you’re compatible and know everyone pretty well. You likely have shared interests that brought you together in the first place and have talked about how fun it would be to go somewhere. For this reason, you’ve all agreed to go on a trip. Why not?
What you may not have discussed is everyone’s expectations for the trip and their travel goals. One person might be an early riser and want everyone to get up and go right away, while others might prefer to sleep in. Are you looking for a leisure trip or do you make plans for lots of exciting and active undertakings?
Overall, it’s up to everyone going on the trip to decide what you want to do, which makes honest communication extremely important. After all, the last thing you want is for someone to feel left out or overly-stressed while on vacation.
With that in mind, you have a few initial things to figure out, such as where you’d like to go, what you’d like to do, and how you’ll make sure it all happens without a hitch. It’s a tall order, but you can do it if you plan correctly from the start and consider the following:
Where Would You Like to Go?
This might seem like a no-brainer, but be careful when picking your destination. Be sure to discuss where you would like to go with everyone involved and come to a consensus you are all happy about.
This is where discussing what everyone wants out of the trip is key. Someone may want to spend time in nature, while another wants to see the city sights. In this instance, if you pick a remote location, some of your trip-goers might be bored and not enjoy the trip as much as they could.
Remember, once you reach your destination, it’s okay to split up and for everyone to do different things. You don’t all have to stay together the whole time. For instance, you might be able to find somewhere with excellent hiking and a cute, downtown shopping area.
When discussing your destination, figure out what each person’s top three priorities are. Someone might be looking to relax on a beach, while someone else might prefer to hit up the nightlife. Look for common themes and be sure to research places that have some of what everyone wants.
Once you have your destination set, you can start planning some activities…
What Would You Like to Do?
Next, it’s time to figure out what everyone would like to do. Although you may have already discussed some fun activities you could do at various destinations, it’s important for everyone to be more specific about their preferences.
Oftentimes, where you decide to go will hinge around what everyone would like to do, and vice versa. For example, those who want to relax on the beach are going to need a destination that has a beach. The same is true for those who want unique shopping opportunities. When it comes to compromise, you may need to get creative.
Someone might be excited to go somewhere particular to see the sights, but it’s not by the beach. In this instance, figure out if the person who wants to relax by the beach would be okay with a nice poolside location. When you put your mind to it, you can find ways to ensure everyone is happy.
Also, make sure not to crowd the schedule too much. It’s important to set aside alone time for everyone. Spending too much time with one of your friends may start to wear on the relationship. Remember that some people need more time to themselves than others, so be understanding when someone chooses to return to the hotel room instead of going out. It may be they need a moment to relax.
Once you’ve decided on some activities, book as many reservations and tickets as you can in advance. Not only will this help with your schedule, but it will also save valuable time once you’re there. In addition, paying for as many things in advance will also help when it comes to budgeting (more on that in a moment).
How Will You Compromise?
Inevitably, it may be difficult to make plans that are ideal for everyone and that’s okay. After all, the real point of planning a trip with friends is to be with your friends and have a fun, bonding experience. For this reason, someone will likely need to make some compromises.
As we discussed briefly above, it helps to get creative. Make suggestions and do your research. Reach out to every individual and be sure everyone is being honest with their priorities for the trip. Having an open discussion now can save time and help to prevent fighting while on the trip.
One factor that can be a problem when going on a trip with friends is money. Even though a lot of people don’t like to talk about it, be open about how you’re going to handle expenses. It helps if everyone pays what they owe right away rather than waiting to divy it up, causing confusion and frustration in the future. However, we’ll talk about this more when we go over setting a budget.
Decide On Travel Dates
Next, you’ll need to decide on travel dates, picking a time that works for everybody. Again, it’s important to take everyone’s needs into consideration. After all, it may be easier for some to take a trip than others, depending on their day to day responsibilities.
When scheduling a trip with friends, when you decide to go will depend largely on when everyone can take off work, school, or a break from family responsibilities. Because of this, many take vacations during the summer, which is often an easier time to get leave.
Another reason you may decide to go during a certain time is because of a cheap flight or discounted hotel rate. When this is the case, make sure that everyone is happy with the destination and the activities available there.
Always check with your friends before booking something, as you never know when they might have something else going on (or have already booked it).
When it comes to scheduling, consider using an app like Doodle to keep things organized. Using a scheduling app can save time and confusion over the the back and forth of a group email.
Again, Compromise Is Key
As with everything we’re talking about, always be understanding of your friends’ needs. Even though you share interests, you’re all individuals. Celebrate what makes each of you unique and be accommodating to each other.
Whatever date you decide for your trip, there will always be someone who is making sacrifices to be with friends. Even if they aren’t, they’re taking time out of their daily lives. Remember, the trip is supposed to be for everyone, so make sure whatever compromises your friends are making are not one-sided.
Set a Budget
One of the most important things you need to do when planning a trip with friends, or any trip for that matter, is to set a budget. You need to be able to answer questions like:
- How much do you have to spend?
- Where will you spend your budget?
- How will you raise the money?
When friends are involved, it’s particularly important to talk about money. Everyone should contribute their fair share and have a say in how the money is spent. Even if you promise to cover for someone, be very clear about what you are paying for and how much it’s going to be. Fights over money and who owes whom can be a strain on any relationship and may tear your friendship apart.
Start by discussing the big expenses with everyone. For most trips, these are the travel accommodations and where you are staying. Airplane flights can be very expensive and several days in a hotel can add up fast.
Decide how everyone is going to travel and talk about the hotel, cabin, or Airbnb where you are going to stay. For some, these things may be more important than they are for others. For instance, how nice the hotel you choose will be more important to someone who is planning to spend a lot of time around the hotel relaxing by the pool then for someone who just needs a place to crash.
As far as method of travel is concerned, think it through. Make sure everyone is comfortable with your arrangements. When flying, it’s typically as easy as everyone buying their own ticket, but what if you decide to drive? Whose vehicle are you going to take? And, if someone volunteers, how are you going to pay for gas?
To keep your trip running smoothly and to avoid potential confrontations, outline your budget and decide now who is going to pay for what. This includes small things, like taxis, food, and supplies.
When paying for meals, cover fees, or tickets, make sure everyone pays right away. You can prevent infighting by making sure everyone pays their fair share now, rather than one person covering the bill and then have trouble later when everyone forgets to pay them back.
To handle issues such as this, consider creating a group fund. Once hotels and flights are out of the way, how will you pay for other things? To avoid headaches, have everyone contribute the same amount of money to the fund at the beginning of the trip. You can then pay all small expenses out of this fund. Then, when it starts to get low, have everyone contribute the same amount again until the trip is over.
Handling the budget for a group trip can be stressful and for many is the hardest part about travelling with friends. To avoid any potential pitfalls, plan ahead and discuss priorities. If one person likes to eat at high-class, expensive restaurants and another person would rather live on cheap burgers and hotdogs during the trip, find a compromise everyone can agree to.
Figuring this out now, rather than during the trip, can take a lot of the pressure off of planning a trip with friends.
Figure Out How You’re Going to Get There
Before we get too far in the planning process, let’s take a look at travel arrangements. You’ll want to be sure right off the bat that everyone is happy with how you are planning to reach your destination. To put it another way, are you traveling by plane, train, automobile, or some other form of transportation?
Ultimately, some of your friends might have more money than others. This can lead to conflict when planning a trip with friends as one person might not worry about booking airplane flights, while it may seem too expensive for another person.
In this instance, you may want to find other methods of travel, such as a train, or have everyone handle their own travel plans and set a date to meet at the destination.
In other words, don’t forget to plan and make travel arrangements. After all, the time you spend travelling is just as important as the time you spend at your destination. In some cases, your travel time may even be the long part, such as on a road trip. In this situation, plan some activities and take advantage of this time to be with your friends and to bond.
All in all, there are pros and cons to every method of travel. Let’s take a minute and break them down.
Taking a flight to where you want to go is arguably the fastest way to travel, although that may hinge on how far away you’re planning to go. As such, if the location is 500 miles or less from home, it may be faster to drive, depending on how busy the airport is and how efficient security is that day.
Another consideration is the expense. Airplane tickets can cost a pretty penny, which, depending on your budget, may leave you with less money to spend on other things, such as the taxis, the hotel, and food. Is paying for a costly flight worth it if, once you arrive, you’re unable to pay for event tickets or go to the world-renowned restaurants you were hoping to?
In addition, it’s important to take comfort into consideration. Anyone who has flown recently knows that it’s not exactly the most relaxed way to travel. It can be stressful trying to make sure everyone makes it to the airport on time, as well as having to check luggage and wait in line to pass through security. On top of that, seats and legroom have become smaller and smaller over the years, making them less and less comfortable.
You may also have a friend who has a fear of flying or who gets sick on takeoff and landing. It may not be fair to put your friend through the ringer when everyone is just trying to have fun. Besides, think of the time spent driving in the car as bonding time. Make it an important part of the trip, rather than a chore.
Of course, if you’ve planned a trip to somewhere that’s not too far away, you can always drive. In fact, although it may take longer to reach your destination, for some this may be the preferable way to travel.
If the drive is simple, renting a car may be your best option. Depending on the number of friends, you may be able to get a large enough vehicle for everyone, which can be a lot cheaper than individual travel arrangements. Also, you can save money if you’re planning to return the car to the same station where you picked it up, as a lot of rental car companies offer discounts for doing this.
One way to ensure you’re getting the best rate for a rental car is to use a site like AutoSlash. With it, you can compare rates from different companies and find the one with the best price and the perfect vehicle.
When choosing to drive, consider more than just the distance to your destination. Look also at the quality of the roads. Are you going to be able to spend most of the trip on the highway or will you have to take back roads or crowded city streets? In addition, will there be parking when you get to where you’re going? Resolving these issues before you start driving could save you a lot of pain later.
If you’d prefer not to drive and flying is just not your style, don’t forget to look into trains. With a train ride you forgo the stress of the airport and you don’t have to drive. It’s also a relaxing way to spend time with your friends.
Taking a train is usually cheaper than flying and a great way to travel together in a group. Not only can you sit and chat or play games, you can also get up and walk around. What’s more, some trains offer scenic views or pass through interesting rural areas.
Another advantage to travelling by train is cushy seating with plenty of leg space. Flying in an airplane can be uncomfortable, as can riding in a car for extended periods of time.
Trains are, however, not the most efficient way to travel. Their destinations are limited and you have to make sure your schedule aligns with the train’s. Also, some trains may make several stops on the way to where you’re trying to go, making the trip a long one.
Divide Tasks and Responsibilities
Trying to plan the entire trip yourself can be a lot of pressure and stress. Although it’s best to decide destination and travel dates as a group, you may wish to split up or delegate other tasks to your friends. In this way, everyone shares the responsibility and no one is left out or feels ignored.
For example, one friend can look into hotels, another researches flights and the best deals, while another puts together a list of fun activities and restaurants that you will all enjoy. That way, everyone is involved in the planning process.
Sometimes, however, you may have a friend who is really organized and wants to take charge of things. This could even be you. When this is the case, make sure you’re keeping everyone’s preferences in mind as much as possible. Also, be sure to check with your friends before booking anything, like a hotel or flight, as they may have already purchased theirs and they are often nonrefundable.
If someone does take on the bulk of the responsibility, make sure they don’t feel overwhelmed or burden them with more than they can handle. What’s more, certain decisions can be hard for only one person to make.
Offer help and make sure they are comfortable reaching out if they need to. Even helping with simple things, such as booking a reservation at a place your friend found, can make a big difference, and be sure to show your appreciation.
Communication Is the Name of the Game
It’s easy to be swept up in the excitement of the trip, but don’t forget to communicate with your friends. Make sure there are plenty of opportunities for anyone to voice concerns. You’re all going on this trip together, after all, and everyone should feel comfortable to share their opinions.
Keeping an open dialogue between friends now can go a long way toward the prevention of fights later down the road. Talk about an issue before it boils over. Overcoming communication pitfalls will keep your trip as drama-free as possible.
It’s also important to be self-aware. Inevitably, someone is going to get annoyed or frustrated during the trip. If you’re feeling sensitive or annoyed at your friend’s quirks, take a minute to excuse yourself and have some alone time.
If you’re tired or hangry, take a break and get something to eat. Rest, mediation, and exercise can all help you to feel better about the situation. These things happen. Come back when you’re ready, and be sure your friends feel comfortable doing the same thing.
On top of that, be positive. Too much negativity can really bring the trip down. Plans don’t always work out. Sometimes it rains and the restaurant you were dying to go to turns out to be a big disappointment. If you keep your focus on what’s good about a situation, you’ll help to prevent your friends from falling into the same negativity trap.
If someone is sad or angry, try to bring things into perspective. Chances are, whatever you or anyone else is upset about is not as big of a deal as it feels like right now. It may be that your phone just died during a picture-perfect moment, but it’s not the end of the world. Not everything is within your control, and that’s okay.
Even if everyone is miserable, it could be that it will make for a really good story one day. Always remember that you’ve taken this trip to have fun. A little optimism can go a long way.
If Tempers Flare…
It almost always happens. When travelling with friends, someone at some point is going to get irritated at someone after a while. When it does, take some time apart for everyone to cool off. After a few minutes, you can all come back together to apologize and talk about what happened.
A trip with friends may even be an opportunity for you to work out a solution to your conflict. In this way, you can prevent more fights in the future. After all, the silent treatment or passive-aggressive behavior can put a real damper on a trip that is supposed to be fun. Be diplomatic, but also honest with each other.
Don’t Forget to Enjoy Your Trip With Friends
Putting your planning efforts aside for a minute, don’t forget to have a good time on your trip. It’s important not to be swept away by logistics and lose sight of the bigger picture. If you’re feeling stressed, take a moment and ask yourself why. When you’ve determined what’s making you feel this way, reach out to your friends for help.
And remember, planning a trip with friends is supposed to be fun. Make sure everyone is involved and enjoy yourselves!