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How to Plan a Group Trip


Who doesn’t love hitting the road with family and friends? With the excitement of traveling, the days leading up to the big event are just as busy as the actual trip! Still, even the best-planned trips can go awry. 

Traveling with a large group can be difficult, especially if you’re leading the charge with planning the itinerary. Between organizing lodging arrangements and adjusting to everyone’s needs and budget, group travel can quickly become stressful. Our guide to planning the ultimate group trip is here to help! 

Whether you’re planning a bachelor getaway or a family vacay, these travel tips will help you plan the best group trip, so you can enjoy every moment making memories with the people you love most. Our checklist will keep you on task, on budget and ahead of the game with reminders for the most frequently forgotten details. You and your party will learn how to stay one step ahead and prepare for any challenges that may come your way.

Tips for Planning a Group Trip

Planning a group excursion involves many moving pieces. You must work with the people themselves, along with their personalities, tastes, limitations, schedules and finances. These tips for planning group travel will set your trip up for success by helping you create a solid foundation of communication and accountability from the beginning.

Here are our top 10 group trip tips for a smooth getaway from start to finish:

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1. Start the Planning Process Early

It is never too early to start planning a group trip! The more people are involved, the more time you need to do the actual planning. As soon as your group decides to take a trip together, it’s time to get a move on!

The biggest reason to get the planning process started right away is financing. Think about how much more it costs to book a flight or hotel room at the last minute. The sooner you begin, the better chances you have of everyone setting the date in stone and being able to make it. Plus, you have more time to get group discounts along the way!

2. Appoint a Group Leader

No one wants to be left out, and everyone wants their say. But having a dozen voices buzzing all at once makes it difficult to communicate and get anything done. A group leader should be assigned at the very beginning of the planning process. This person takes on the responsibility of communicating with everyone so each participant can be heard.

The leader facilitates discussions about different aspects of the trip, like group activities, food preferences and overall expectations. The group leader is also accountable for keeping the ball rolling. Many group trips can lose steam before they can begin. Remember that getting caught up in the stress of the day-to-day is just another reminder of how much you need this getaway!

Just remember, whoever the leader is, they are not responsible for the happiness or enjoyment of anyone on the trip.

Set up a group on Social Media

3. Set up a Group on Social Media

Group chats and event pages are the perfect solution for keeping everyone updated. You can create a private event page on Facebook and invite all your group members to join. You can keep the excitement up by starting a countdown until the day you leave and conduct polls to decide what activities everyone wants to do.

You should also have a group chat, so you can send out mass messages without accidentally leaving someone out. The downside is that you can have ten or more people sending messages all at once and setting off your notifications every thirty seconds. You can avoid that by asking everyone to communicate through the event page and have only the group leader send messages through the chat.

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4. Set the Budget

Money is almost always a controversial or sensitive subject. When you’re planning group getaways, you must consider multiple personal budgets. Some people within the party may be willing to spend more than others. But on the other side of the coin, there may be individuals who may not be financially capable of keeping up and are too embarrassed to say anything about it.

Therefore, you should set the budget before starting the planning process and adhere to it.

Your budget should include:

  • Transportation and travel expenses
  • Lodging
  • Food
  • Group activities
  • Travel insurance

There should be several group meetings to discuss the budget and one-on-one conversations with the group leader and each individual.

As an alternative, you may consider having a money pool. This would allow everyone to contribute to one lump sum, say $500, for example, before the trip. The group leader can then use the pool to arrange accommodations for meals and boarding.

5. Give Everyone an Equal Say

Group travel is about shared experiences and creating memories with the people you love. The best way to ensure that everyone has a good time is to allow everyone to share their input with an equal amount of consideration. While some voices may be louder than others, each person going on the trip should share their opinion.

While it isn’t always possible to please everybody all the time, your group should unanimously agree to financial, lodging and major travel decisions. When it comes time to choose sleeping arrangements or the next activity, the group can vote, draw straws or even play rock, paper, scissors to settle disagreements.

6. Plan for Transportation

In the world of Uber and Lyft, traveling through cities and high-traffic destinations is an overlooked detail that should really be given more attention.

Here are a few questions to ask your group as you discuss transportation options throughout the trip:

  • Are you going to take an airplane or charter a bus?
  • If you travel by plane, how will you get from the airport to your lodging?
  • How will you get around the area you’re visiting?
  • What will you do if half the group wants to break off and venture on their own?

You should always book your transportation after booking your flight or bus transportation and lodging.

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7. Pre-Plan Activities

The purpose of a group adventure is to spend time together. While you shouldn’t have the entire trip planned by the hour, it’s good to have a few activities already planned and scheduled before you leave.

Pre-planning some activities will give your group a chance to experience your destination in a new way, as well as help you find places that offer group discounts. Some venues or activities offered in cities and tourist destinations have a limited number of people who can participate at one time. Booking activities beforehand will ensure that no one misses out on something truly exciting!

8. Always Look for Group Discounts

Speaking of group discounts, don’t forget to look up deals on bulk ticket purchases! Plenty of apps and websites partner with local businesses to bring you a fun and authentic experience wherever you’re traveling.

You should also remember that a vacation doesn’t have to involve over-the-top activities. Renting a boat, taking a yoga class or reserving a private dining room are simple and affordable plans that will give your group the perfect opportunity to bond.

9. Plan for Downtime and Alone Time

Take some time to relax by yourself. Constantly being around many people, going from one activity to another and being away from home is stressful. Even though you may love all the people you’re traveling with, everyone needs time to unwind and take a break to just be by themselves.

Group trips don’t have to mean that everyone has to participate the whole time. It’s okay for others to break off while the rest enjoy some solo time without feeling left out.

10. Be Aware of the Group Dynamics

There are several types of group trips — bachelor/bachelorette parties, family reunions, spring break, corporate events, summer vacations and many more. No matter which one you’re planning, one group travel tip that will save you from unnecessary stress and drama is to be aware of the group dynamics before and throughout the planning process.

Group members do not always get along, whether they are friends or family. With a larger group, you’re guaranteed to get multiple strong personalities and varying age groups and interests. Deciding sleeping arrangements and planning activities that everyone can enjoy will become easier when factoring the group dynamics into your itinerary planning.

If your trip isn’t a family event, you have more room to decide who you want to invite. The smaller and more closely knit the group, the better chance you have of creating an enjoyable and intimate experience rather than a crazy and chaotic one. This especially rings true for bachelor/bachelorette parties and summer vacations.

Group Travel Checklist

No matter how carefully you plan a trip, things always seem to slip through the cracks. This group trip checklist will help you make the more difficult decisions while keeping everyone happy. From choosing your means of transportation to tactfully asking for everyone’s financial contribution, you’ll stay on task and ready for whatever comes your way!

1. Transportation

Getting everyone from point A to B and back again is comparable to herding puppies. You can never be too detail-oriented when deciding how you’ll get to and from your vacation.

If you’re going abroad or cross-country, you have two options for getting to your destination — air travel or bus travel. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but the best fit ultimately comes down to the group members’ vision of your trip and their preferences.

Air Travel Pros and Cons

Some pros of taking a plane include:

  • You can book tickets early and all at once.
  • It is faster than ground travel.
  • It’s the safest form of travel.
  • You can travel to almost anywhere in the world.

Some cons of taking a plane include:

  • There’s a risk of tickets selling out, leaving the rest of your group to find another flight.
  • You have to pay for extra baggage.
  • You need to get to the airport several hours early.
  • You still need group transportation when you land.

If you decide to take a plane for your group trip, the best time to book a flight is as early as possible. While it may be tempting to wait for last-minute deals, you don’t want to risk getting separated from your group.

You should also keep in mind that the scheduled flight times should be considered when planning the itinerary. If your flight lands early in the morning and your hotel check-in isn’t until the afternoon, that leaves a lot of downtime while trucking your bags along wherever you go.

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Group Bus Travel Pros and Cons

Some pros of taking a group bus include:

  • You can use your phones the entire time.
  • Most charter buses come with free Wi-Fi and outlets.
  • It’s just you and your group sharing a bathroom.
  • There are no assigned seats.
  • You can schedule pick up and drop off times according to your needs.

A group bus trip can come with a few cons, including:

  • It can be expensive for smaller groups.
  • You’re limited to ground travel, so trips overseas are impossible.
  • Driving through historical cities with narrow streets may be challenging.
  • You never know how traffic will be.
  • Traveling will take more time.

You have much more flexibility when booking a charter bus for your trip. You should reserve your bus at least three weeks in advance. Although the earlier you book, the more options you will have.

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2. Lodging

Hotels, resorts and vacation rentals are all great options for group travel. Each one offers its own benefits, from free continental breakfasts to having a kitchen to cook in. Before you book your stay, consider these factors for finding the right lodging for your group.

  • The size of your group:  The number of people in your group will be the greatest factor in determining your lodging accommodations. If you are traveling with six or more people, then a hotel stay may be too expensive. In this case, a vacation rental will be your best option.
  • Your budget and length of stay: It’s no secret that the longer you are vacationing, the more expensive your trip becomes. However, many vacation rentals and hotels give discounts for lengthy stays. The determining factors will be the group’s budget and preferred amenities. Staying in a hotel room can start to feel cramped after a few days, whereas shared houses or apartments give you more room to breathe.
  • Your food preferences: Eating out for every meal during vacation adds up, whether you’re traveling solo or with a group. If you’re trying to keep your expenses on the lower end, then having a kitchen to cook in will help offset the costs.

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3. Food

No matter where you go, you’re going to have to eat sometime! When working with multiple palates, preferences and budgets it can be a challenge to find dining options that fit everyone’s needs. Here are a few tips to make sure everyone stays happy and fed:

  • Always make dining reservations in advance: You should find restaurants that can accommodate your group whenever possible. Calling ahead will save you from finding somewhere to eat last minute, and the staff will really appreciate the heads up.
  • Stock the fridge and bar if you’re renting a house: If you are staying at a house, stocking the fridge with snacks and drinks will save you tons of money and time when looking for something quick to eat.
  • Split up the responsibility:Planning and cooking meals shouldn’t fall on one person, especially when traveling with a large group. Just like everyone has their say in making decisions, each person should have one meal that they are responsible for making for the group.

4. Money

Collecting money from the group can be awkward, so communication is key. Here are the best ways that you can ensure everyone pays their share on time.

  • Start the conversation early and keep it transparent: Always be upfront about how much shared expenses will cost each person and how you reached the final amount.
  • Track payments electronically: Whether you use apps or an online spreadsheet, having proof that each person paid their share with correlating dates will spare many arguments over money.
  • Carry extra cash, just in case: You never know when you’ll come across the perfect souvenir or spontaneous group activity, so always carry a bit of extra cash with you.

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5. Travel Insurance

While travel insurance may seem optional, the benefits may just save the day. Travel insurance offers coverage for canceled transportation, emergency medical expenses and other accidents. Some types of insurance will cover your luggage, wallet and other personal belongings in case they get lost or stolen. If you’re traveling with a passport or valuable items, insurance is something you don’t want to forgo.

Common Challenges When Planning a Group Trip

Everyone hopes for the best, but even the best-planned trips can lead to unexpected group travel issues. Here’s how to handle those challenges when they eventually come along.

1. No Consensus on Destination

This subject should be discussed and decided in person. Everyone has an equal stake in the trip’s success, no matter where you decide to go. If you can’t decide where you want to go, allow everyone the opportunity to share their expectations, limitations and concerns. By keeping the conversation open and honest, you can make better decisions that everyone agrees to.

2. Non-Committal Guests

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to plan a trip without knowing just how many people are going. It makes booking travel tickets and hotel rooms impossible. If you have someone who is not 100% committed to the trip, keep them in the loop of the conversation and set a deadline for when they have to make their decision by. This gently puts the pressure on them without pushing them into making a commitment they don’t want to make. 

3. Personality Clashes

Sometimes personality clashes are unavoidable. No one knows quite how to handle it when two members don’t get along. Start by breaking down the conversation to find where the miscommunication is. When you identify the true cause of a disagreement, the other group members can resolve the conflict. Make sure that no one in the group takes sides because that will cause more division.

4. Group Members Not Sticking to the Itinerary

Some people are more “go with the flow” than others, and that’s okay! But for events that you pre planned or prepaid for, remind the wandering parties that you’re in this adventure together. Keep the sense of community planning enough downtime for everyone to do what they are interested in. If someone disagrees with the agenda in the moment, speak to them one-on-one about why sticking to the schedule is important to the bigger picture.

In the end, everyone wants to have a good time and make this trip one to remember. If you’re traveling with friends and family, the only thing that matters is that you take time to enjoy each other’s company without stressing about schedules and travel plans.

Book your group travel with BusRates image

Book Your Group Travel With BusRates

Why not travel with your group in style? With BusRates’ premium charter bus fleet, we have options to fit every group size and accommodate every need.

Unlike other forms of travel, our motorcoaches have amenities that make traveling a luxurious experience. With Wi-Fi access, restrooms, outlets and TV monitors, your vacation starts the second you step onboard.

The best part? No hidden fees! Our staff adds the personal touch of finding you the best deal for your party, so you can relax and let us take care of getting you there safely and on time.

Whether you’re going out for a night on the town, shuttling your wedding party or traveling to cheer on your favorite sports team, our motorcoaches can get you there. Are you traveling with a smaller group? No problem! We offer high-end minibuses that are the perfect size for bachelor and bachelorette parties and corporate events!

BusRates makes traveling fun, easy and stress-free. Visit our website today to get a personalized quote for your next group adventure.