April 19, 2024

Adventure Awaits Journeyers

Discovering the World Anew

How To Plan A Group Trip That’s Organized & Budget-Friendly

5 min read

Before going on a group trip, I become the worst version of myself. Planning an event brings out my dark side, regardless of it’s a girls’ weekend in Vegas or a few “chill” days in upstate New York. I badger the group chat with questions about date preferences, outfit choices, and budget boundaries. I create Google folders for flight information, vision boards, and itineraries, and press Share (without granting edit access).

I could blame it on my Virgo moon, but according to TikTok, I’m not alone. TikTok users have said there are two types of people when it comes to group events: the “planner friends” who create intricate itineraries and book excursions; and the “Venmo friends,” who simply send their portion of the fee and show up to the airport. If you aren’t sure which you are, you’re probably the latter.

As I’ve gotten older, the regular group meetups on Friends and Sex and the City seem more like fantasy than realistic fiction. A group of adult friends gathering regularly? Sounds fake. So to successfully get plans off the ground, at least one person has to take charge and become the project manager of the occasion. I, for one, have no problem stepping into that role.

TikTok users discuss the difference between being a "planner friend" or a "Venmo friend."

The responsibilities of the project manager might include putting together questionnaires to see what people want out of the trip, drawing up itineraries to ensure everyone knows when everything is going down, and, in some cases, making a doc where everyone can share what they’re wearing throughout the weekend. Is it extra? Undeniably. But you’d be pissed if you showed up in jeans and a nice top while everyone else was wearing mini dresses and heels, no?

Surveys, Contracts, & Spreadsheets

Although a group trip may feel like all fun and games, anything that requires someone to spend finite, valuable resources, like their money and time, is essentially a business partnership, says Tanya Sesiakin, 27, who used two different Google Forms ahead of her September 2023 wedding — one for bachelorette party invitees and one for bridesmaids. When you provide the information up front, people can decide if they’re able to attend knowing what the commitment will cost them. It’s almost like a contract.

Successful group trips have two types of travelers. So please, for the sake of your friendships, kno...

Sesiakin used her surveys to gauge things like neckline preferences, how they’d be willing to help on wedding day, and what kind of drinks they prefer. “With the survey, you’re telling the attendees your opinion and your input matters,” she says. “You almost gamify market research.”

On TikTok, fellow planner friends agree that surveys are a necessary part of planning group trips, like how some couples HR-ify their relationships with spreadsheets and weekly check-ins. Getting everything out in the open allows for revisions. Kinks can be ironed out before it’s too late.

Some friend groups have turned to surveys to help with planning ahead of a group trip.

“[Surveys] help you get a better idea of what people are willing to commit to,” Sesiakin says. “You have the added bonus of answers you receive being more honest than you would in a group chat because people will just go along with what the majority says [over text].”

Planning Is A Full-Time Job

Felisha Barrett, 38, works as a travel agent at Fora Travel, where she offers clients meticulous itineraries, often 10 pages long. “The more detail I include, the better,” she says.

While prices across the travel industry vary, Barrett estimates that most basic services cost an average of around $500 to plan a trip for a group — and this doesn’t include additional commission agents might receive. On the extremely luxurious end of things, some travel agencies like Fischer Travel Enterprises charge up to $150,000 in annual fees for members before a vacation is even booked. Yeah, planning is that valuable.

To make a group trip run smoothly, the designated project manager might treat their besties more like clients. Before our trip to Vegas, my planning counterpart and I made a doc of estimated flight prices, room rates with photos of the floor plans, and guesses for how much costs like tickets and meals would add up to so people could reference it before confirming their attendance. The best part? We did it free of charge.

Every friend group needs a project manager to keep the girls' trip planning on track and under budge...

While travel agents get paid for their slate of services, amateurs are doing a lot of the same things without cashing in on the work. While they might feel like a bother pinging the group yet again to decide on breakfast reservations, there’s nothing more satisfying than being able to say “I’m not sure, check the itinerary!” when someone asks when they need to leave for drag brunch.

Hard Work Pays Off

Laying it all out in a survey can avoid questions about expected spending that might feel awkward to bring up out of the blue. A detailed spreadsheet can throw together everyone’s flight info so people can split Ubers. A cutesy Canva edit can clear up when it’s time to start getting ready, and vision boards can ensure no one shows up to the pregame wearing an outfit that doesn’t match the vibe. Planner friends might be annoying or uptight leading up to an event (been there!), but it’s a necessary evil that’s done for the greater good of the group — and to make sure the Instagram pics are fire, of course.

Does it feel a little strange to send your besties a form for feedback like you’re a telemarketer? Maybe. But it’d be worse if your trip resembled Fyre Festival. You’ll thank yourself later — and when everyone else shows up knowing exactly what to wear with the perfect amount of money in their checking account, they’ll probably thank you too.

Source:

Felisha Barrett, travel agent at Fora Travel


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