Ultimate Guide to Planning Group Travel

Group of friends looking at map on coffee table.


If you’ve been thinking of planning a group trip in the near future, know you’re not alone.


Group travel has increased in popularity by 92%, according to a 2018 survey by Travel Weekly. A 2020 report by Phocuswright revealed that group travel made up 10% of the total leisure travel market. Even more interestingly, in a study by Travelport Digital in 2018, it was found that 62% of Gen Z travelers and 56% of Millennials preferred group travel experiences.


These numbers are not shocking to us in the least.


At NorthStar Travel, we are consistently booking group travel experiences for our customers and can vouch that it offers numerous benefits and excitement. That being said, in order for a group travel experience to be fulfilling for everyone involved, there are some key tips and tricks that must be kept in mind.


In this blog post, we will share with you our ultimate guide to planning group travel, complete with a list of benefits, choosing the right destination, setting a budget, planning accommodations in advance, organizing transportation and lastly, crafting an itinerary.



The Benefits of Group Travel

There’s something to be said about a shared experience. Travelling with family or friends provides many opportunities for laughter, making memories, trying something new, exploring outside of your comfort zone and ultimately, bringing you closer together. At NorthStar Travel, we are big fans.


If we haven’t convinced you yet, here are some of the key benefits of planning group travel:


Growing Closer Together

Group travel provides a unique opportunity for bonding and creating lifelong memories with friends, family, or fellow travelers. Sharing exciting adventures, exploring new places, and overcoming challenges together strengthen relationships and foster deeper connections.


Saving Money

One of the most significant advantages of group travel is the ability to share costs. By splitting expenses such as accommodations, transportation, and group activities, individuals can save lots of money.


Traveling as a group often opens doors to exclusive discounts and special offers that may not be available to individual travelers. Group rates on accommodations, flights, attractions, and activities can result in significant savings and added value to the trip.


Bringing New Perspectives

Planning a group trip brings together individuals with diverse backgrounds, interests, and perspectives. This diversity enriches discussions, stimulates new ideas, and broadens everyone's horizons. Engaging in meaningful conversations and learning from each other enhances the overall travel experience. It also makes for really good inside jokes to share around the Christmas table.


Shared Responsibilities

Gone are the days when mom planned the entire trip and everyone just showed up at the airport with their luggage packed (ahem, by mom). One of the main benefits of planning a group travel experience is that tasks can be delegated among the individuals. Delegating tasks such as research, bookings, or logistics lightens the workload for one individual and allows everyone to have a responsibility.



Choose the Right Destination

One of the first things you will have to do as a group is unanimously decide on a destination that will make everyone happy.


Hands pointing at map.


Maybe Karen wants to lay on the beach and read a novel while John wants to go skiing in the Alps. Individuals have different ideas for what constitutes fun and relaxation, so in order for everyone to have a great time, it’s important to choose a destination that can appeal to everyone’s needs (for the most part).


Here’s how:

  • Involve all group members in the destination selection process to ensure everyone has a voice.
  • Gather their input, ideas, and suggestions.
  • Utilize reliable travel resources, websites, guidebooks, and travel blogs to gather information on various destinations.
  • Consider factors such as attractions, activities, cultural experiences, safety, and local amenities.
  • Shortlist a few destinations that align with the group's desires for further evaluation.
  • Lastly, narrow in on a location everyone can agree on.


Consider the Climate

Now that you’ve chosen your destination, ensure that the time of year and the climate will not dampen your travel plans. For example, maybe avoid visiting Florida during hurricane season, if you had dreams of laying on the beach with a good book and a cocktail. Or be wary of traveling to Italy in the middle of July if large crowds make you uncomfortable.


Consider whether the group prefers a tropical beach getaway, a winter sports adventure, or a temperate climate for outdoor exploration. Research the destination's climate patterns, peak tourist seasons, and any potential weather-related challenges to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience for the entire group.



Set a Budget

The destination has been chosen, you’ve double-checked climate patterns, and now you’re ready to properly start planning your group travel experience. The first thing to consider, especially in a group setting, is the budget.


Before diving into the specifics, it's crucial to establish the overall budget for the group trip. Consider the financial capabilities and comfort levels of all group members. Discuss and agree on a realistic budget that takes into account transportation, accommodations, activities, meals, and other anticipated expenses.


By carefully setting and allocating the budget, managing expenses transparently, and implementing money-saving strategies, you can ensure that the group members are not breaking the bank, while still having an enjoyable and memorable experience.


Allocate Funds Wisely

Once the overall budget is determined, allocate funds to different aspects of the trip. Consider the cost of transportation (flights, train tickets, car rentals), accommodations (hotels, vacation rentals, hostels), activities (tours, attractions, excursions), meals, and any other anticipated expenses.


Word of advice — allocate additional money in a miscellaneous fund, to have on hand as unexpected travel situations do arise.


Tips for Saving Money During the Planning Process

Through careful planning and some savvy browsing, your group can save a significant amount of money during the planning process. Here are some ways to do so:


  • Research and Compare Prices: Take the time to research and compare prices for transportation, accommodations, and activities. Look for deals, promotions, and group discounts to maximize savings.
  • Travel During Off-Peak Seasons: Consider traveling during shoulder seasons or off-peak times when prices for flights, accommodations, and attractions tend to be lower.
  • Group Discounts and Packages: Take advantage of group discounts and packages offered by hotels, tour operators, and attractions. Inquire about group rates and negotiate if possible.
  • Plan Meals Strategically: Explore affordable dining options such as local markets, street food, or self-catering accommodations to reduce meal expenses. When arriving at your destination, visit the grocery store and buy essentials for breakfasts and lunch. This will save you so much time and money during your trip, so you can re-allocate those funds for something more fun!
  • Opt for Shared Accommodations: Consider staying in vacation rentals or larger accommodations that can be shared among group members. This often proves more cost-effective than booking individual rooms.
  • Plan in Advance: Booking flights, accommodations, and activities well in advance can result in better prices and availability. Last-minute bookings may be more expensive.



Plan Your Accommodations


Woman sitting on bed in a robe, holding a coffee and looking out window.


Decide On the Type of Accommodations

When planning accommodations for a group trip, consider the preferences, budget, and desired experience of the group. Options may include hotels, vacation rentals, hostels, or even a combination of different types.


Consider Group Size and Room Configurations

Take into account the size of the group and the room configurations needed to accommodate everyone comfortably. Consider the number of beds, bathrooms, and common areas required.


Depending on the group size, you may need multiple rooms, shared spaces, or larger accommodations like villas or apartments that can accommodate everyone.


Research and Book Accommodations in Advance

It's important to research and book accommodations well in advance to secure availability and more affordable rates. Utilize reliable travel websites, review platforms, and recommendations from trusted sources to find suitable options. Compare prices, amenities, and locations to make an informed decision. Booking in advance also allows for easier coordination with other aspects of the trip.


It’s equally important to review cancellation policies, payment terms, and any additional charges associated with the accommodations. Confirming these details before finalizing the booking ensures clarity and avoids any surprises later on.



Organize Transportation


Choose the Mode of Transportation

Depending on your destination, your group might have to organize multiple modes of transportation to ensure a safe and budget-conscious arrival. If you’re planning an international trip, you will have to consider the cost of a flight, as well as a bus or taxi to take your group from the airport to your accommodation. Keep in mind that, in most places, taking a taxi or a rideshare is more costly than local transportation such as a subway or bus.


Coordinate Arrival and Departure Times

Coordinate the arrival and departure times of the group members to ensure smooth logistics. Consider factors such as flight connections, layovers, and transportation availability at the destination. As much as possible, aim for a coordinated schedule that allows for efficient transfers and minimizes waiting time for the group.


Book Tickets

Once the mode of transportation is decided, book tickets well in advance to secure availability and affordable prices. Look for group discounts or special fares offered by airlines, train operators, or bus companies. Group bookings often come with benefits such as discounted rates or flexible cancellation policies. Research and compare options to find the best deals for the group.


Plan Local Transportation at the Destination

The key to an efficient group travel experience is to cut down on waiting time. Planning and organizing your transportation once you’re at the destination will ensure that you’re not wasting precious time that you could be spending exploring waiting for a bus.


Research and consider options like public transportation, car rentals, or hiring private transportation services depending on the group's needs and budget. Familiarize yourself with local transportation systems, routes, schedules, and any necessary tickets or passes.


The more of the planning you do in advance, the more seamless your experience will be.



Craft an Itinerary

There are typically two kinds of individuals on a group travel experience: the laid back and go-with-the-flow one that is happy to explore at leisure and the one that has planned the trip down to the bathroom breaks.


Two people crafting a travel itinerary; writing times and activities in notebook.


While it’s always great to allow time and space for spontaneity during travel, in order to make the most of your travel experience, you must create an itinerary. This is especially important in a larger group of people.


Here are some of our suggestions on how you can make this happen:


  • Identify Must-See Attractions and Activities: Research popular landmarks, cultural sites, natural wonders, and unique experiences that align with the group's interests. Prioritize and select the key highlights that everyone is excited to explore during the trip.
  • Balance Group Activities and Free Time: Even the individuals who want to cram as much as possible into their travel experience still crave a moment to enjoy a drink on a patio or rest their feet. The key to a well-crafted itinerary is one that can strike a balance between exploration and rest. Book guided tours, group excursions, or shared experiences. Equally, allow for some free time where individuals can pursue their own interests, relax, or explore independently.
  • Create a Detailed Day-by-Day Itinerary: Create a central document that outlines the activities, timings, locations, and any necessary reservations or tickets. Include essential information such as addresses, contact details, and transportation instructions. Be mindful of travel times between different attractions and factor in breaks and meals. Share the itinerary with the group in advance to ensure everyone is informed and prepared.



Final Thoughts

There you have it! You and your group are ready to plan and book your dream destination vacation. At NorthStar Travel, we are consistently booking group travel experiences for our customers and can vouch that it offers a number of benefits and excitement for everyone involved. If you still find yourself unsure of where to begin or would like additional assistance with your trip, reach out to our team and we will be happy to help out.




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Mike Snider
Name: Mike Snider
Posts: 57
Last Post: July 16, 2024