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#1 Tip For Group Travel

Lets start by saying that I absolutely love to plan things: dinners, birthday festivities, office parties, you name it! But my favorite thing to plan are trips! No matter where in the world I want to go or my friends want to go, I am doing all types of research to find the best deals on flights and hotels and fun activities. That’s probably what made being a Social Studies teacher so great because I was always learning about a new place that I could potentially visit. The best part about the planning for me is creating the itinerary and creating a budget.

One of my favorite trips that I planned was for my friend’s Surprise 30th Birthday trip to Puerto Rico. Her name is Whitney so I coined the trip #WhoYouWHITWeekend and had everyone use that hashtag on social media for anything they posted from the trip. The trip took place in July 2015 and I started planning in December 2014. Her sister came to me asking for suggestions and trusted me to put in the leg work to make it happen. With my doing the most spirit, I even made a website for the trip. Check the hashtag for the site!

Now, this post may not be about The Best Travel Planning Experience Ever (what I initially wanted it to be) BUT instead, I wanted to focus on what I believe is the number one tip for planning a group trip and why that trip to Puerto Rico was successful.

When planning group trips, there is always the tendency for people to back out at the most inconvenient time – when payment is due. Leaving you with the hard work of trying to recalibrate how much more everyone needs to chip in due to the unexpected change or trying to find another location that is more cost efficient for everyone.

This brings us to the point of this post – BOOK HOTEL/HOUSING FIRST!!!!

Here’s what I do: I send out an initial invite message to gauge how many people would be interested and then based off the interest, I would research different hotel/resort deals and prices to get an idea of how much it would be based off those who confirmed their interest. Then I would send out another message thanking everyone for their interest and giving them the projected price for housing. I let them know that the price will be split into payments and I throw in the disclaimer that all payments are NON-REFUNDABLE because it is being used to pay for the housing deposit. This forces people to think twice before confirming.

Once I make that deposit, there is no turning back. Even if someone pulls out, we still have their contribution to the deposit and if the price changes, we may not have to pay a difference because of that contribution. Nonetheless, it is best to pay the housing first because it is the biggest headache of trip planning. You can purchase your flights and excursions whenever but they hotel/resort, you must get it before it is too late.

When I did this for the Puerto Rico trip, initial interest was at 12-13 people, post interest (after they found out the cost) was at 10 people, deposit was paid by 8 people (not including the birthday girl), and only 8 people (including the birthday girl) actually went on the trip. Someone actually pulled out AFTER they paid the deposit. That’s tough!

Group travel planning can be a pain but if it is done correctly, it can be a breeze. And if you are not the type to plan trips, deal with people, or collect money, hire someone to do all the labor for you. Make travel planning easy by getting a professional or a Type A Personality like myself handle it for you 🙂

-signing out, LOLA THE MANAGER

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