Organize your group trip the right way in 5 small steps.

Most of the time when it comes to holidays and free time we want to spend it with people close to us, catch up with good old friends we haven’t seen for a while or just refresh our minds and emotions around new faces we do not usually hang out with.

The only problem is that the more people join the group, the more complicated it gets with the organization of the whole event, which is in most cases done by people like you and me. It is not just about finding the plane/train tickets and rooms to sleep. The more people there are, the more opinions and wishes you will have to take into account if something has to be decided on the fly. So in the case of a larger group the first and most important thing is:

1. You organize – you set the rules

If you leave everything to be decided in the last moment in a democratic manner, you are doomed to spend too much unnecessary time discussing and arguing instead of actually enjoying your trip. Regardless what the outcome of a vote or a dispute is, there will always be someone unhappy with the group decision. I have experienced this on my own a couple of times. One of them we ( a group of 9-10 people) were trying to decide where to stay for the night. Some of us were tight on the budget, so they wanted to pick some hostel where could just fill in a whole group bedroom. Others wanted a nice warm bubble bath in a hotel and were against the impending snore-fest about to take place. So in the end we split and until we managed to find each other and gather again on the next day, it was already afternoon.

The best solution is to state everything loud and clear at the very beginning when you send invitations to all the people. See what you and the majority of the people would prefer and then go for it. Plan when and where are you going to stay, decide the way you will travel, pick the places you want to visit. Then offer the whole package to everyone. Of course there might be people who are not very happy with some parts of the plan. However, since you do not offer them the option of voting, they have to either accept things as they are or decline the invitation (which in most cases is better than having someone bitching the whole time). Do not worry though, because whoever really wants to make this trip will do it regardless.

2. Use polls and deadlines

If setting rules and determining everything all by yourself seems a bit drastic to you then you could still use voting and democracy to determine parts of your plan.  If you are taking this path though, do it before you start with the trip in the organization phase. And do it with deadlines. Give people enough time to respond and once that time comes, close the poll and make a decision based on the input thus far. Remember your goal – to spend less time dealing with decisions and more time enjoying your trip.

A great website for creating and moderating simple polls is doodle.com. You can share the link with everyone involved and get notified for any updates. I use it on a regular basis. If your group members are facebook friendly, you could use the “create event” feature and post either a doodle link or create a facebook-based poll on the event page.

3. Give small tasks to everyone willing to take some responsibility

Make people take care of something organisational  It does not have to be something of great importance ( such as budget or time management ) but for example you could let someone take care of researching the history and facts behind a certain site you will be visiting and then let him share this with everyone else. If you think a person can handle a bigger responsibility let them take care of provisions and drinks for your daily trip or take care of group train tickets and keep track of what your location is.

This way you make them feel involved while playing a part as a someone important. People love being appreciated and gladly accept challenges. Your group will get along better and won’t waste any time and get frustrated by arguments.

4. Organize subgroups and assign group leaders

When organising a larger group of people, usually a good idea is to apply the ancient roman strategy “divide and conquer”. It gets really hard to watch out for 15-20 people and think for every single one of them. For that reason it is a really good idea to split responsibility into smaller groups and assign team leaders.

A good example is when you are travelling by cars and you have a group meeting point at a designated spot at a certain time. In this scenario each driver should make sure that the people travelling along are ready for pick up in a predefined order. He has to consider the available space for luggage and warn everyone to pack only stuff they will need for this trip.

5. Write things down

Putting everything on a sheet of paper or a file on your computer will really help you with the process. You can scribble your ideas and add comments, make lists and save contact informations. I personally find a computer file better, because of the ability to share it via dropbox with other people. If they have a google account (which most people nowadays have) you could use the awesome google docs for creating online spreadsheets, documents, etc. without having to install any piece of software on your computer except a web browser.

I mentioned dropbox as well. This is an awesome tool for backing up all important data on your computer. Images, text files, videos, anything goes with dropbox. Your files get copied on their servers and when you access dropbox on another machine, you get all your stuff synchronized and available there. You can share whole folders (like “images from our trip” for example) or single files. You get initially a few gigabytes free space but as you invite other people to join, your space grows. I use it also on a regular basis.

Summing it up

It is indeed difficult when it comes to organizing events for more than a few people. I have done it many times for groups of 20-30 people it is experience that let me to all these conclusions. Once I started implementing this strategy people were always aware of what is about to take place and thing started to run really smoothly.

I am really interested if you have had any experience in this area. What are your secrets? How do you manage to keep everything under control?

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