Last year, I planned a hen do to Las Vegas and looking back it actually required a lot of planning. Luckily, that’s where I thrive, however I did learn a few things along the way…
Ideally you’d have a destination in mind before booking, the whole ‘I dunno’ or ‘I don’t mind’ answers don’t cut it when it comes to planning a group trip. Those individuals are usually the first to complain if something goes wrong or if the destination isn’t as expected. The key is to have a rational group leader or leader(s) who are diplomatic in making decisions. Now this may sound like much like politics but when you’re trying to rally up a group of people in this day and age to go somewhere, it can feel like an election.
For those who do need a nudge, I’ve written a post on ‘How to stop being a flake‘ which they may want to read…
Getting troops to agree and actually pay for the trip is half the battle… decisive people make it so much easier and those who aren’t may need more of a nudge. Before booking, I’m sure you would have estimated a rough cost and taken into consideration spending money too.
When I planned Vegas, I made sure to look around for the best deals on a variety of website and it turned out a package was much cheaper. We paid around £700 each for 5 nights over a weekend which is pretty good considering we stayed in a 4* hotel and flights were direct. Our initial deposit was £175 each and booking in January with a holiday in September ensured we had plenty of time to pay it off. As the group organiser, I kept a spreadsheet of total amounts and balances owed which might sound like I’m an accountant but it keeps you on top of things especially if money is going in and out of your account. I’d also recommend telling those in your group to use their name as a reference to avoid any confusion.
Tip: Have a payment schedule and stick to it… or set fake deadlines e.g a week or so no one risks you losing the booking!
A WhatsApp group is crucial when organising a group trip. It keeps the momentum going, it’s quick way to get information from someone and a good place to store documentation.
Tip: Use the ‘Star’ feature to quickly reference a particular message. You can also use the search within a conversation feature to quickly reference something.
Take photos of EVERYTHING, from your luggage, to your passport to your hotel reservation. That way when you reach your destination airport, you’re not stuck trying to figure out whose luggage belongs to who. It might even be worth sticking the same coloured ribbon or luggage tags around the handles of your suitcases so it’s easily recognisable.
Tip: Print off all your documents and give everyone a copy. I’m freakishly organised and I bind mine to avoid having loose bits of paper flying around.
Getting to the Airport on Time
Most likely your group doesn’t live together or in the same area so getting to the airport on time can be a little stressful especially as some people are ALWAYS late no matter what… and traffic of course. For EU flights (and if you’re hand luggage only), I would get to the airport 2-3 hours early and for international, it’d be 3-4. This gives you enough time to allow for lateness if there is any, grab any last minute necessities and a bite to eat or as I like to do, an overpriced glass of champagne.
Tip: Give everyone a fake time to allow for those usual latecomers or consider booking an onsite airport hotel if you have an early morning flight.
The more there are of you, the cheaper taxis will be. Sometimes there may be two cabs required but if you use Uber you can order an UberXL which usually holds 7 passengers. Also consider sharing food e.g getting platters instead of individual mains unless you’re like this:
Tip: Ask for the menu when paying for the bill, split the tip equally OR just pay for what you ate if you haven’t gone for this option.
Another tip: Use Bookatable to make restaurant reservations or ask your hotel concierge to book them for you. It’s easier to get a table for two but harder for parties of 5 plus, especially if you’re in somewhere like NYC or Vegas where things get booked up quickly.
Sharing a room
Some of us are our messy and some of us aren’t. I fall into the category of organised chaos and sharing a room with three others in Vegas was an eye opener to this. Some prefer to unpack and others prefer to live out of their suitcase still, so in this instance you just have to compromise. If luggage restrictions are tight, consider seeing what products you can all chip in and share throughout your trip.
Tip: Consider having a shower schedule.
Icebreakers and Activities
Sometimes you may going away with a group that you may not well, but there’s no reason to get to know them better right? That’s where Pinterest comes in, there are great ways to break the ice with scavenger hunts, photo ops, truth or dares etc. If all else fails, just stick to the usual Cards of Humanity and beer pong.
When going away as a group, activities are a great way to do something different than you’d usually do in your home town, let you enjoy something together and have the group mentality of trying something new. I would always suggest everyone comes up with something they want to do e.g sports, paint balling, theatre show and voting for what is the most popular with the group. However, you don’t want your trip itinerary to be littered with too many activities, allow for free time to see the beautiful place you’re in, sample the food, meet the people and take it all in…
Tip: Pre-plan activities as you may find discounts for groups, I booked Chippendales tickets in Vegas and they had 10% off and a VIP upgrade for groups of 6 or more, so it’s worth looking around. Also check and see if the place you’re in has a Groupon, thank me later.
Going away as a group is a learning curve for everyone. Some of us are used to our own space most of the time and either make it or break it when its infiltrated. My advice is to go with the flow, be considerate and make the best memories…
And if all else fails, run away and make it a solo trip.
Gifs sourced from GIPHY, they do not belong to me. The other images are mine though!