The wonderful world of adulthood means you get to travel with all of your pals, without chaperones and school buses and an itinerary. Group vacations are a much different task than planning a solo trip or for you and another person. There are a lot of opinions, budgets, and schedules to plan around.
Even in college, when planning a simple trip, someone usually planned the outings. There are just some people’s personalities that lend well for leadership or caring enough to be pushy when you have lazy friends. It can get annoying when people don’t listen. So, unless you have a much more democratic system, the group you’re traveling with needs to recognize that there are going to be people who step up and make decisions. This doesn’t mean that the opinions of the others don’t matter or that the leader should go ahead and book everything without consulting the others. The role of the leader should be to start the conversation, so everyone’s opinions are known. Once everyone has said their thoughts, it is up to the group to make a compromise that everyone can live with.
Sometimes you can fit your group into a hotel room or two if money isn’t an issue. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to ensure that your two hotel rooms are going to be close or next to each other. And then if you have a large group, being spread across 3 or more rooms is not ideal. Also, it’s nice to have a space of your own. Airbnb will be your best friend for this. You can rent entire houses or apartments on the site which is ideal for a group of people 5 or more. You’ll have your own kitchen and living room to hang out. While you are vacationing to see the destination you’ve all chosen, it’s also really important to have those downtime moments with your friends.
You may not get out of the house most days until 11am especially if you were out drinking the night before and you should absolutely prioritize sleep – especially on vacations. But some in the group who get up earlier may start to grow more frustrated with their late departure. Part of the reason it may take so long to leave is that getting everyone to be ready at the same time was like juggling eight bowling pins. Everyone needs to shower, to gather up all their things, to charge their phone, and then even when you’re all gathered by the door that’s when people remembered that they need to go to the bathroom, or they forgot their sunglasses. It’s how things are just going to work.
It can feel like disagreements mean that you’re failing at having a group trip. The ideal trip is that all of you skip from one activity to another with your arms linked and never part, except maybe the bathroom but that’s not realistic. You might all be friends, but when in normal life have you all ever spent your days identically, back-to-back? So, when it comes to disagreements, don’t let it get bigger than what it is: a difference in preference. If you don’t mind doing things differently, then don’t argue the point just to win. It will prolong the disagreement. Also, splitting up can give everyone a break from each other so you won’t burn out. No matter how much you love each other, you’ll probably burn out at one point.
If you’re going to want to do any tours, especially ones with limit capacity per group, you should book that ahead of time. However, for museums or places with open admission, it’s not necessary and you should give yourself the flexibility if you can. The most important thing to book ahead of time: Restaurants. If you could at least make reservations for 50-75% of your meals, you should. It’ll save you hours. It’s much easier and a better use of your time to plan while you’re on your couch at home than standing on a sidewalk while everyone is on google maps trying to figure out what to do next or where to eat.
Often tour operators want to book the maximum amount of people per trip to make the most amount of money possible. If you are alone or with just a couple friends, you will likely pay full price per person. If you were in a group of 6-10 you will be able to bring the cost down for everyone. You are guaranteeing them the business and you are both getting what you want. Don’t ever settle for the quoted price on any excursion when traveling.
Especially if your groups are especially large, you can get a discount on things like admission and tours. It would be worth your time to compare different companies to see what your best deal will be. Also ask before you each purchase your own admission individually.
If you’re in a “party city” this will be especially important. It can get really crazy and crowded and it’s sort of impossible to always stick together but maybe stop short of getting matching t-shirts. What you can do is make sure that no one is alone. No matter how drunk they are, or you are, whether you want to continue to stay out or want to go home, it is your job as a group of friends to make sure that no one is going to be out on their own. People are adults and can take care of themselves, but that doesn’t stop drunk people getting lost or getting into trouble.
It works out really well to have one person get the check for the group. That person may not mind as they may get points on their credit card anyway. Then take a picture of the receipt and use a cash app to pay your share at the end. This will save time trying to split up the bill at the restaurants. In some cases, restaurants don’t mind that much, but when there’s 8 people and drinks and split appetizers and automatic 18% gratuity for large groups it can be hard for everyone involve.