By Chris Clemente
It gets harder every year to get your group together for a dinner—what more a group trip that everybody says they want but nobody wants to put together, right? Everything's well and good when you're talking about it on Viber. Everyone's throwing out ideas for the getaway, excitedly planning the menu, the activities, their OOTDs, but oddly enough, no one is actually jotting these down and putting them on their calendars. Well, since another long weekend is upon us, we thought of a few ways to make planning a group vacation easier.
1. Majority wins.
Pinning down a date is the start of any trip, and because it's the first hurdle, it's usually the hardest. Even on fixed holidays, sometimes other offices don't declare it as a holiday for their employees, or if the holiday falls somewhere in the middle of the week, it still requires a day or two of leaves to make the long weekend work.
The key here is acceptance. Accept that not everybody will be able to go. No guilt trips, no peer pressure. Be adults and take a poll. Write down all the possible dates, and the date when most people can go wins. If one of you can’t make it, life is not over, there's always the next holiday.
2. Choose the destination.
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In choosing the destination, be sensitive and open-minded. Do your research on interesting locations and suggest them to the group. It'll also be handy to know what to see there, what to do, etc. so you can make a compelling case for your suggestion. Remember: anyone can throw in their two cents. Don't be a snob or make anyone feel their suggestion isn't welcome.
Keep these things in mind:
a. There are different types of travelers.
While you may be the adventurous back-packer, your best friend might be a luxe traveler. That's not to say that you can't travel together, but it will require extra planning to compromise.
b. People have different budgets.
Not everyone can afford to travel by plane. Some can only allocate a bus ride or to carpool, so it's best to see where everyone's at financially and propose at least three options—an inexpensive vacay, one that's mid-priced, and one that's on the pricier end. Sometimes it's also just a matter of getting different types of rooms in a resort or hotel that sets a big difference, not necessarily the destination.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
3. List down the activities.
Once you've got the date and location pinned, you can move on to the activities. Let's face it: even your closest group of friends have different ideas of a holiday, and it's been proven to be a bone of contention among friends when their ideas for a perfect day clash.
Laid-back vacationers might feel overwhelmed if they feel forced to participate in activities that are physically demanding. Late-risers might feel rushed if there's an early call time, etc.
Photo by Emma Matthews on Unsplash
4. Break down the days.
Now that everyone's up to speed with the 'what', it's time to plot your days. If your vacation is going to take up three to four days, it's best to break down activities per day. This achieves two things. For those who can only spare a day or two, or can only allot just a few hours, they may find it still a good idea to join the trip or at least catch up. Also, by breaking down the activities, you're giving others a chance to choose what day or fraction of time they can fully participate in.
For example, if I'm not into outdoor activities, then I'll skip the day that has hiking, swimming, or trekking in them. Be sure to group the days evenly. Allow for days in and days out to cater to all types of travelers in your group.
5. List down all expenses.
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Money is always a tricky subject and should be handled with care. Set a budget for the whole trip. Ask people what they're willing to spend for the whole vacation—on accommodations, transportations, activities, food. Then come up with budget options. Sometimes people bring their families, their spouses, their plus ones, or kids, so you have to come up with different packages for people to choose which suits them.
This may sound tedious, but it will make it easier to tally in the long run. For example those who are bringing their whole brood will probably get a room all to themselves. Allow a package for that. All the singletons might want to bunk together to save up on accommodations, so it’s smart to come up with a package per pax.
6. Track progress
You might think it's just a Type A trait, but keeping tabs on progress will be to everyone's advantage. Keep an excel file—yes, I went there—of the whole vacation from destination, to transportation, to expenses, etc. List down all the participants and log who has paid for what as soon as they hand out their cash (or put the file on Google Drive so everyone has access and can log for themselves).
There's also an app for this called Split Wise and it does the work for you. If you're dividing it equally or by percentage or however else, the app will help you do that. No more debates on whether or not somebody has paid.
Hopefully, with these tips in mind, planning your next getaway with friends—or even just a meal—won't be a nightmare anymore and you'll actually have more time doing the most important thing—having fun.
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