Planning a Vacation for a Large Group
Planning a vacation is always an exciting time, but planning a vacation for a large group can sometimes be more stressful than exciting. When working with so many different schedules, wants and needs you can quickly want to throw your hands up in the air and give up. But there are ways to make it easier and in the end, it can even save you money to travel in large groups.
The first thing to do is figure out who wants to go. Next you have to decide where you want to travel to. This can be easier said than done. There are many ways to determine where to go. A central location might be best, or if everyone is already in the same area, you can look at traveling together somewhere. When dealing with many different people, you are bound to end up with different desires. Rather than having heated conversations with people over where to go, why not narrow it down to three or four places and send out an email and have people vote. The top choice is where you go. If going on group vacations is a frequent occurrence, then the second choice can be the next trip planned. Try to keep in mind that usually the point is to have everyone together and the "where" might need to take a backseat to this.
Once you have decided where to go, you need to figure out where to stay. Hotels are easy, I have found, because you can just book a group of rooms and all be near each other. Renting a house though, is usually more relaxing because it can feel like home away from home. I have found that when renting a house large enough to accommodate a large group (in my case 18) it is best to make phone calls. You can look around online, but calling a rental agency at your destination can save you hours of work. Pay attention to the bed configuration, not just the number of people it will sleep, especially when dealing with single people.
If your group wants different houses or cabins next to each other, calling a rental agency is a must. They will know right away if and where a series of rental homes are available so that you can quickly find exactly what you want.
Once you have your dates and location set it is time to determine what everyone wants to do. Again, emailing might be best, but try to determine what the most important thing is to each person. Is it going scuba diving or shopping? Fishing or skiing? Remember that everyone doesn't always have to do everything; you can split up while on vacation. But the chances are good with a large group, that some desires will overlap and those things can be planned together. Possibly having a day or two where people do their own thing and the rest of the days you do something together will accommodate everyone. Traveling with large groups can have monetary benefits too. Usually a group rate can be obtained when you have 10 or more people. This could make something within reach that might have been too expensive on your own.
Talk ahead of time about who can bring what. Are some people driving and others flying? The people driving can bring some of the essentials that won't fit in a suitcase. Are you all coming from the same area? Maybe chartering a bus is a good idea. Also decide how you will handle meals. Is everyone on their own for meals? Will dinners be cooked together? Will you be eating out? I wouldn't plan every meal, but having some of the meals planned specifically and loose plans for the rest should work well.
One of the most important things to have when traveling with a large group is patience. Be patient with the people you are traveling with and the places you are going. Large groups can be harder to accommodate and can be time consuming to get around. Leave early for your destinations so that you can be assured you will arrive on time. Remember you are on vacation and the point is usually to be together. For me the more the merrier, so relax and have fun.