The idea of planning a trip can be daunting. Sure, you got your vacation approved, but now you need to find flights, check out accommodation options, and make sure there are enough things to see and do to please every member of the group. The mere thought of jumping in and dealing with the issues makes you need a vacation even more than you already did. Never fear, there are a few easy tips to make planning your next trip a piece of cake.
Decide What to Spend
Budget should be your first consideration. While everyone might like the idea of jetting off to safari in South Africa, their budget may not agree. Many people do find that they spend more on a special holiday away, but receiving honest answers in regards to budget should be the starting point for the rest of the trip planning. Luckily, there are bargains to be had in most of the world depending upon season, planning ahead, and sales, so a beer budget may never allow for a 5 star tour of London, but with some research you will be amazed at what you can find.
Decide Where to Go
This seems as though it should be the easiest decision, and yet, the possibilities are mind-boggling and, if there are multiple people involved, can become the most complicated. One member of the group wants to sit on a beach and do nothing but drink mai tais. One is an adrenal junkie who wants to be active every day. Maybe someone loves museums, and someone else can’t be bothered. The answer lies in compromise. One good trick is to have everyone write down their top five vacation destinations. Compare the answers and the destination with the most votes wins. If you travel with the same people often, it might be easiest to have one person choose the destination one year, another the next year, and another next, and so on. Then everyone will get their first choice at some point.
Decide How to Get There
Once you’ve decided on where to go, the first line of business is to determine flight options and prices. There are a variety of search engines that enable you to compare airlines, schedules and fares all in one entry. It is a great idea to also check each airlines website directly, as sometimes they offer even deeper discounts. If budget is a consideration, depending upon your destination, there are many low cost carrier options, or perhaps the group wishes to jet set on a private charter for a real treat!
Decide Where to Stay
This is a biggie! More important to the overall trip satisfaction than airline selection, is where to stay. Some questions must, once again, be asked. Are you looking for an all-inclusive? Do you prefer a quaint bed and breakfast? Are you looking for a peaceful atmosphere, or is a boutique hotel right in the center of the action the preference? Some people prefer small, intimate accommodations, whereas others are looking for sleep and upscale with all of the amenities on site. Of course, compromise is key, but asking the right questions of all involved up front will aid in a happy outcome.
Decide What to Do
It is a good idea to create an itinerary… and then remove some of the activities on it. This is important even when traveling with just two or three people, but absolutely essential when traveling with a family or group of friends. It is very helpful to, for instance, plan on always eating breakfast together, and have pre-arranged, or at least decided upon, a group activity every other day or so. But the true key to happy travel with others is to plan breaks from the itinerary, and breaks from each other. Include time in each day where everyone can do exactly what they want to do without worrying about what the rest of the group is up to. Not only does that give the separation necessary for individual happiness, but it makes for great conversation around the dinner table as everyone shares their day. In tip one, when you decided where to go, the location chosen should have been one where everyone has at least one or two things on their list of preferred activities. Then all members of the group are getting the vacation of their dreams. One of the best ways to see what a location has to offer is to do some searching on the city or countries tourism website. These sites list all there is to do and see. In addition, a site such as Trip Advisor is perfect for the opinions of other travelers who have recently vacationed in the same spot.
Discuss Expectations and Set Boundaries
Finally, each member of the family, or group, should be open about their expectations for the holiday. Some people go on holiday to release their inhibitions and party like its 1999. Some look at a vacation as a time to decompress, sleep in, and read a book a day in a hammock by the sea. Some of your group might be interested in fully immersing themselves in the local culture, whereas another might dream of an all-inclusive resort that they never need to leave. Ideally, you will be vacationing with people who you are already somewhat familiar with, and these ideals will not collide. The important thing is to keep communication open. Splurging on a celebratory dinner out is all part of the fun of vacation, however, it is important to keep everyone’s budget in mind so that resentment doesn’t build from one too many expensive nights out on the town.
In the end, keeping the lines of communication open, and compromise, are what will make or break your time away. Even couples with disparate interests can find themselves clashing over the details, a situation multiplied with more people. By letting everyone have their day to make a choice for dinner restaurant, or activity for the group, all involved will go home rested, refreshed, and ready to do it all over again.