Making travel plans with a group can go one of two ways — eclectic adventure or disorganized itinerary of doom, and the associated costs make you wince, either way. Typically, more people means more money spent, but a little planning and a few hacks get you the best experience for every euro.
Fun with the gang and savings? What’s not to love? Whether planning a girls’ getaway or family vacation, here are seven ways to save when planning your next group trip.
1. Know Your Group
Don’t book anything without getting to know your group — their guilty pleasures, must-sees, interests and preferences. People have different travel and experience desires, and you want everyone to feel comfortable. Who prefers to relax indoors, and who wants to climb mountains? Got a bunch of foodies in your group? What about architecture and history nerds? What falls within budget?
When you know your group well, you avoid arguments and migraines associated with petty disagreements over what to do or see during your vacation.
2. Book Flights First
Book the flights first to lock your travel plans down. You’ll know exactly the number of people coming and where you’ll end up. That gives you more reassurance and confidence when making the rest of your plans. You don’t have to worry about people backing out at the last minute — unless they have an emergency. Once you have your dates and times for the flights selected, you’re in a better position to plan the rest of your itinerary.
Book flights between six to eight weeks before leaving, and search at least three months in advance for the best rates. The earlier you schedule your flights, the more money you save — prices go up the closer to the flight dates for typical vacation times, like weekends. Try flying out on a weekday or on flexible dates to save more money.
3. One Person Buys Tickets
Once you decide on the flight and other activities, choose one person who will be responsible for buying plane tickets and big-ticket items, such as for a concert. You’re more likely to get seats together and enjoy the experience more. That person will also get the hang of things quickly and know all the right questions to ask about group rates.
For plane tickets, it may prove cheaper to book a few tickets at a time, and split ticket purchases to get lower rates for a few people in your group. Use two browsers, and try comparing searching on your laptop for rates that may be cheaper on mobile at any given time. Generally, there are fewer seats at the lowest rates, and every airline has a different algorithm.
4. Be Flexible With Accommodations
Got one friend who loves luxury stays in a five-star hotel, and another one who prefers roughing it out in nature? Compromise with glamping in a yurt with access to modern shower facilities and other amenities. Sell the perks of having a personal chef to make five-star-quality meals. Camping out also tends to save more money, since you can control how expensive your group trip will be.Be flexible with accommodations this way to find compromises, but to also experience what you have never experienced before. Does anyone have a friend or family in the area? The best travel stories begin with the unexpected, and that small farm-turned-bed and breakfast will feel like home at the end of a long day — instead of coming back to a commercial hotel with little to no personality.
5. Encourage Personal Itineraries
You may think traveling in a group means everyone must go by a strict itinerary and sacrifice a few personal sightseeing preferences. You’re likely spending hundreds of pounds on this getaway, so you should enjoy it — personally speaking — too. Make a list of your must-sees and must-dos — mention these to the group. If they don’t come up in the vote, make your own time to go see what you want. Encourage personal itineraries for everyone, as long as they’re not too far out of bounds. It’s OK for the group to split up into pairs or go solo at times.
6. Make Room for Downtime
If you’re sightseeing too much, you’ll wear yourself out, spend all your money and feel out of sorts during the rest of your stay. Make room for downtime, so you get a chance to relax, get proper sleep and spend time with your loved ones.
Pick up a local board game or a deck of cards with an assortment of street food. Sit down in your room and play a game while you eat. You’ll feel more at home away from home and save money, too.
7. Use Offline Apps
Apps make life easier for people to sightsee and schedule their trip, but they can also eat up data and use too much roaming — making your phone bill skyrocket. Download offline city guides to avoid these fees.
Stress less when planning a group trip, and use these seven tips to save more money to make the most out of your experience. Bon voyage!