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Group Travel: How to Plan the Ultimate Vacation with Friends

Thinking about hitting the road with your peeps? How about a dream trip to Europe, an island escape, or maybe even an epic road trip across our beautiful country? It all sounds amazing, but travelling with friends can really make or break a relationship. So before you book your flights or pile into a car together, there are a few things you should think about when planning group travel.

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Having an adventure of a lifetime with your friends can be one of the most fulfilling travel experiences out there. What can be better than sharing moments in new and beautiful places with some of your favourite people? Whether you’re planning a cross-country road trip, an all-inclusive beach vacation or a historical tour across Europe or Mexico, there are a few things you can do when planning and booking your group trip that will help ensure it’s a smooth, enjoyable time for all.

a group of friends running into the water at the beach
Travelling with friends can be amazing as long as you plan it correctly!

Planning and Booking Your Group Travel

This is the part where you take your travel dreams and turn them into reality. But if you want to make your group travel successful, there are a few things you should do:

1. Pick your group travel partners wisely

Not everyone is meant to travel together. Even some of the best of friends have incompatible travel habits that can seriously stunt the enjoyment of your trip, so it’s important that you pick your group travel partners wisely.

One of the best ways to gauge your travel compatibility is by picking travel companions that are similar to you. Not simply in terms of interests and travel style, but it also helps if you’re on the same page for personal habits and your daily schedule. If you’re an early riser who likes to attend the resort yoga class, but your travel buddy likes to stay up late, party through the night and sleep until later afternoon, then your trip might not be that enjoyable for the two of you.

2. Plan a group trip purpose

Some trips are for relaxation (hello all-inclusive beach vacation), some are for fun (did somebody say Disneyland) and some are made for adventure or exploration—regardless of what your trip is for, it’s important you all agree on the purpose in the first place.

Determining the purpose of your trip will help make sure you’re all on the same wavelength and help you narrow down the destination you’re headed to!

3. Agree on a budget

When it comes to travelling with friends, your travel budgets might differ, so beyond deciding your trip’s overall purpose, your budget is likely the biggest consideration for your group trip. Not everyone has the same cash flow, so to avoid any awkward situations on your trip, don’t be shy to set the budget beforehand.

When you say a ‘Europe trip’, you might be thinking backpacks and hostels while your best friend is daydreaming of luxury hotels overlooking the Eiffel Tower and resorts with infinity pools. These two trips carry very different price tags!

Money can be a touchy subject, but it’s important to let others know your budget and where you stand. Nobody wants to be left out because they can’t afford something, or come home to find out they are in debt.

group of friends resting on a blanket on the ground in summer
Plan a summer adventure with your friends

4. Pick and book your group trip destination

From your group travel dates to transportation, accommodation, and budget, travel comes with a certain amount of planning and prep. Schedule a few planning brunches before your trip so that everyone in your group has the chance to give their input and insight for the group trip. Unless you have an expert in your group who is willing to do it all (and you are willing to go with whatever your travel expert does), planning should be a group activity.

When travelling with friends, getting everyone involved is the perfect way to make sure everybody’s voice or opinion is heard, and it’s also an easy way to share the workload involved in planning a group trip.

Group travel apps: Group travel planning can be challenging, but the TripIt App can help you plan and keep all of your important documents in the same place. By inputting your travel details and confirmations into the app, you get a master itinerary—it can also send you reminders and give you travel updates (like sharing information about neighbourhood safety).

Further reading: The best free travel apps no traveller should leave home without.

Group of friends celebrating and toasting their glasses of wine at a sunset dinner
Make sure everyone in your group is on board with your trip’s purpose

Bucket Lists for Group Travel

Regardless of where you and your friends are headed on your trip, everyone in your group is probably going to have a number of must-dos on their personal bucket lists. Hopefully, if you’ve carefully considered your travel partners, a lot of your must-dos will line up but chances are there will be a few that don’t.

Maybe you have your heart set on going on a mountain hike, but your travel partner’s idea of a great tip involves checking off the three most popular museums on her list—it’s a good idea to get these out in the open before the trip. Taking the time before the trip to discuss your must-dos will help you build a plan beforehand, come to some compromises or even plan some of your alone time where you explore on your own.

Tackling this during your group trip could result in some unnecessary arguments, wasted valuable trip time and maybe even a few hurt feelings.

Group travel app: The Roadtrippers App can help you and your group travellers plan your route, divvy up duties and pick and suggest places to stop during your road trip. Want to stop at the world’s tallest teepee*? Suggest it to your group.

*The Saamis Teepee is known as the World’s tallest teepee and it’s located along the Trans-Canada Highway in Medicine Hat, Alberta, just in case you want to add it to your road trip itinerary.

large group of people at an outdoor music festival in summer
Take in a festival on a trip with your friends

Group Travel During Your Trip

Once your trip has been planned and you’ve made it to your destination, there are a few things you can do that will make your trip the best it can be. Travelling with other people means coordinating plans, participating in activities and hanging out in your group and these tips will help keep it as fun as possible!

Schedule some alone time

While travelling in a group can be a ton of fun, everyone (even the most sociable of us) needs some quality alone time. Travelling together doesn’t mean that you have to be stuck together 24/7, so don’t be shy to suggest a few hours apart from time to time.

Alone time can simply mean a short afternoon nap, or a quick 30-minutes shared between you, a coffee, and a good book. Or maybe you just need some time alone to update your Instagram Stories, check the latest on Twitter, or make a quick call home. This break for you and your travelling buddies is also a great opportunity to get to some of your individual bucket list items. Perhaps your friend wants to spend a day by the pool but you’d rather check out the latest exhibit at the contemporary art museum – this alone time can be an excellent way to keep the group peace.

Have a way to communicate when separated

Whether you’re planning on taking an afternoon to your self or intend on sticking together all the time – you still need a solid way to stay connected in the case of a split. Regardless of your plans, there’s a good chance at some point in your trip you’ll end up being separated. Maybe someone gets lost in a crowd, sidetracked taking a bunch of travel selfies or everyone is split up on a long train trip, it’s good to have a backup plan for communicating.

Depending on where you’re travelling, you can add international texting to your phone plan. This is best for trips to the U.S. because most Canadian phone companies have an affordable talk and text packages. If you’re backpacking Mexico, Europe, or anywhere in Asia, it’s a better idea to purchase a local SIM card upon arrival so you’ll have a local number and can make affordable local calls and texts.

Group travel app: The Prava App allows you to stay connected with your group, before and during travel. Whether you need a way to stay in touch if you get separated or want a way to instantly share travel photos, Prava has you covered!

Be considerate

The purpose of a vacation is for everyone to have a good time, so be considerate that your friends are enjoying themselves as well. Travelling with friends can sometimes mean staying a tad bit longer somewhere to take a few extra Instagram photos, walking a little further to a vegetarian-friendly restaurant, or going back a little earlier because of jet-lag.

Being considerate sometimes means compromise or outright doing something that you’re not interested in, but at the end of the day, chances are your friends will do the same thing for you. Be mindful of each other’s wants and needs (on the road and at home) and be able to create a balance so that everyone has a good experience on your group adventure.

Group travel budget app: Splitwise is an excellent budget app for group travel. Just input your group spending on the app and the app will split the costs for you.

Final Group Travel Notes

Travelling with friends can be a lot of fun, but it’s not always as easy as it seems. The best way to make it a fun, enjoyable trip for all is to ensure that you’re on the same page when it comes to booking your group trip, everyone’s travel plans are taken into consideration and you plan ahead to avoid wasting valuable travel time.

Knowing where everyone stands on a budget, travel style, and interests when planning your group vacation is key to you all having a good time!

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