NEW YORK – Whoever said a friend is a friend forever has clearly never experienced a group trip that has devolved into a maelstrom of conflicting plans and bickering over restaurant bills.
Travelling with your besties can be tricky. Here are some ways to do it without anyone getting unfriended.
1. Invite with care
“First and foremost, you cannot travel with everybody. Not all your friends are travel friends,” advises Los Angeles-based travel influencer N’Dea Irvin-Choy, 27, on her popular TikTok account.
She suggests picking travel partners who share similar interests, and deciding ahead of time what kind of a trip you will be taking – relaxation, partying or adventure.
“The last thing you want is for your friends to be giving each other the silent treatment on a non-refundable excursion somewhere on a beautiful tropical island,” she explains in an e-mail.
2. Poll, brainstorm, then book
You can get the ball rolling by asking your friends where they want to go and what they want to do using services such as Doodle, Google Forms and Troupe.
Some people prefer to use familiar spreadsheet programs such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to organise the plan and share it with friends.
Others prefer to use apps such as Hoku, MiTravel and Plan Harmony that allow group members to collaborate in the planning process with photos, maps and more.
And creating an Airbnb wish list lets friends suggest lodging options for the whole group to see.
Once you are in booking mode, Mobili provides a way to see each group member’s travel bookings at once, a tool that is especially useful for larger groups.
For sorting out flight arrangements, Mr Robert Driscoll, who owns travel agency VentureOut, swears by TripIt. After making your bookings, you can forward your confirmation e-mail to the app, which puts them all together on one timeline.
Others in the group can then collaborate with the same trip by adding their own bookings to create a group itinerary.
“It’s basically a chronological compilation of all your arrangements: flights, accommodations, car rentals, restaurants, activities and tours,” he says.
3. Commit cash upfront
When one participant on a friend trip suddenly drops out, it can throw financing for the whole trip into disarray. Hedge against those monkey wrenches by setting a firm deadline for a monetary commitment.
When people put down real money, whether for lodging or activities, they are more likely to follow through.
4. Trade off the captain’s hat
Use a classic schoolteacher’s trick to keep everyone engaged and share the planning burden: Schedule a rotating group leader to take ownership of each day’s activities.
This person will be responsible for making that day’s restaurant and tour reservations, or simply keeping everyone on schedule.
Ask each friend to share a personal desire for the trip – for example, a tour of a museum or an afternoon at the beach – and assign that person to lead the group on the day of that activity.
By making everyone the driver, everyone also gets the chance at some point to sit back and be a passenger.
5. Automate the money flow
Tracking expenses for a whole group can expose a lot of pain points.
Differing price sensitivities and priorities make things complicated enough, and that is before you get into the challenges of pricing couples versus singles, people who join late or stay longer, or charges in multiple currencies.
“I have seen so many friendships dissolve because resentment builds when one person suspects other friends are taking advantage of her financially, or not pulling their weight,” says friendship coach Danielle Bayard Jackson.
Apps can help make complicated calculations easy and transparent, even while the trip is still under way.
She likes TravelSpend, which automatically converts currencies, and Splitwise, which helps groups manage everyone’s tabs so there is no confusion about who owes what.
For divvying up restaurant bills, influencer Irvin-Choy recommends the app Tab, which uses a picture of the receipt to track each diner’s responsibility.
6. Avoid the ‘travel amoeba’
Groups can easily become what Seattle-based traveller Dina Vaccari calls the travel amoeba: “an excruciatingly slow-moving blob of people that doesn’t really get anywhere.”
There are countless situations where the group may end up stalled – when one member runs back to grab a lost hat or needs to use the bathroom or stop at an ATM.
Decide as a group ahead of time that it is okay not to wait, then set a time and a place to meet again.
Or use the location-sharing feature of apps such as WhatsApp, so that stragglers can catch up on their own schedules and the rest of the group is free to keep exploring. NYTIMES
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