Group trips look enchanting. I’m sure you’ve seen those captivating pictures of beautifully melanated people exploring Morocco, Dubai, Mexico, and various other destinations, adorned in different shades of brown. My personal favorite is when they sport matching bathing suits and strike poses along the beach or even on a yacht in the middle of Croatia or at a more local spot. The concept of traveling with a large group of friends is undeniably appealing.
Black people are traveling more than ever, even if travel is not being marketed to us. However, at times, we have concerns when traveling abroad about how we will be welcomed and other aspects as a traveling minority. Group trips have allowed us as a community to travel with like-minded individuals who share our concerns and culture. Perhaps you’ve thought about planning your own group trip. Well, I am here to help you plan a successful Black group trip.
Warning! Did you know that 1 in 3 friendships are ruined after a group trip? LOL, I’m just kidding; I hope you didn’t take that too seriously. I’m not sure of the precise statistic, but as a friend who plans group trips and as a travel agent, I can tell you that friendships can become strained before, during, and after a group trip. So, I’d like to share my tips to help you prevent such issues when planning your group trip.
Setting the Financial Foundation
The very first piece of advice is to start by considering the budget for the trip. A budget is the most critical factor as it determines who can join your journey. While you may have a friend group that enjoys similar experiences and falls within the same income bracket, many people have friends at different stages in life who may not share the same spending priorities. And it’s not about income. Some people splurge on jewelry or cars, and don’t see the value in spending money on travel.
When planning a trip as the host, your responsibility is to consider your friend group’s financial diversity. What would be a comfortable price point for everyone? Additionally, you must allow ample time for everyone to coordinate their schedules, especially if they have work commitments, spouses, or children to consider. This timeframe should also give them the opportunity to save (if necessary).
Timing for Success
I strongly recommend planning a group trip at least 10 months in advance. Surprisingly, planning too far in advance can have its drawbacks. Airlines typically release flight availability around 11 months before the departure date. If you start planning more than a year ahead, you won’t have accurate flight cost information. While you can estimate based on current fares, you won’t have a precise total. Planning 10-11 months in advance strikes a balance, offering enough time for preparation, savings, and accurate pricing.
Fostering Willing Participation
The next step in this process involves my most important principle for groups: do not pressure anyone to join the trip. When a friend hesitates, respond by saying, ‘Let me know if you’d like to join,’ without being overly persistent. Pushing someone too hard can strain your friendship and make them feel entitled to go. These individuals might end up reluctantly joining and being Debbie Downer or just canceling all together at the last-minute. It’s better to travel with those who are eager to participate and ready to pay their deposit.
Be prepared for some people to express interest initially and then drop out, or worse, completely ghost you. This situation is not uncommon. Even when you don’t apply pressure, some friends may initially show excessive enthusiasm, receive an itinerary and invoice, but then delay payment for weeks without providing updates. As a travel agent, I have often been the intermediary to mend such breakdowns in communication. It’s an unpleasant experience for everyone. Group trips run more smoothly when you travel with responsive and reliable companions. If you know your friend has a tendency to disappear, do not invite them!
Crafting the Perfect Itinerary for The Group
Now that you have a clear idea of when and who you want to invite, it’s time to work on the itinerary for the travel group. Decide whether you want to collaborate with a travel agent or plan it yourself. Many travel agencies have systems in place to effectively manage group travel. Avoid the potential strain on your relationships by letting travel agencies handle financial reminders. If you decide to handle it yourself, please realize you may be tasked with chasing people for money. For more details on how travel agencies can assist in group travel planning, read our article on the benefits of working with a travel agent for group bookings.
While you should certainly consider everyone’s feedback regarding the itinerary, your role as the group leader is to reach a consensus and plan an itinerary that caters to multiple interests. One of the advantages of group bookings is the cost savings that come from participating in activities and excursions together. It’s advisable not to include individuals who tend to be less flexible in your group trips. Ensure that there’s free time for those with individual interests to explore on their own.
Enforcing Commitment with Clear Deadlines for The Group Trip
My final piece of advice for trip planning is perhaps the most crucial. It involves setting strict deadlines. You must establish a clear date by which potential travelers must express their interest in the trip and a strict deadline for deposit payments. Consider setting a deposit amount high enough to discourage cancellations. While your deposit may be dictated by the tour’s terms and your travel suppliers’ requirements, as the group host, you can add an additional deposit layer for added financial security. This will safeguard the overall cost of the trip in case anyone drops out.
I hope this information has provided you with a comprehensive overview of how to plan your next group trip. If you’re eager to dive deeper into the practicalities of initiating the booking process for your Group adventure, we invite you to read our comprehensive guide on “How to Book a Group Trip.” In this detailed article, you’ll find essential insights and step-by-step instructions to help you kickstart the booking process with confidence.