Holidays & Travel

Travelling with friends this year? How to make group holidays fun and stress-free for everyone

Experts share their top tips for planning a friends trip – without any fall-outs! By Yolanthe Fawehinmi.

Set up that WhatsApp group as soon as possible
FKWR28 Happy friends partying on the beach with drinks and confetti. Happy young people having fun at beach party, celebrating with con Set up that WhatsApp group as soon as possible (Alamy Stock Photo)

Going on holiday with friends can be a great opportunity to try new things, deepen relationships and create life-long memories.

But what if your friendship group has many different personalities and interests? What happens if clashes arise, you disagree on what to do, or some friends want to go somewhere that’s way out of someone else’s budget?

Planning a group holiday where everyone feels happy and content might take some careful consideration. We asked travel experts for their top tips to ensure your trip is fun and stress-free for everyone…

Decide on the planning process

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For travel expert Nina Price Travel, you need to first decide if you want to do the planning yourselves, or go to a third-party travel agent who can plan the entire group holiday on your behalf.

“You will still need to appoint someone who can do the liaising and be upfront with the rest of the group. They need to be super organised. Too many cooks spoil the broth,” says Price. “But if no-one is willing to do it, tasks need to be delegated. Those who aren’t doing much should be cooperative and chilled out.”

Price also thinks it’s best to set up a WhatsApp group as soon as possible. It doesn’t only help with communication but will help you get a feel of how many people are actually going on the group trip.

“I have a rule of thumb: give people three options. If there are too many, no decisions get made. So that’s three destinations and three types of accommodation. Put some activities out there too,” she adds.

Agree on a budget (and keep it fair!) 

Budgeting is key. Some people in the group may only want to spend £100 on the trip, whilst others may want to fork out £1,000.

“This needs to be a really honest conversation about how much everyone is willing to spend,” says Hollie Youlden, UK marketing manager at Kilroy, a youth and student travel agency in the Nordic and now UK region.

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“Obviously in a group, people earn different salaries, some people could be in a relationship or be a parent, so how much you have in terms of disposable income will differ amongst a group of friends,” she says. “It also helps to establish the biggest priority for the trip. Is it the quality of the accommodation, or the destination? Or is it about the number of activities you can fit into your holiday?”

Price agrees handling the spending and budget is really important, and adds: “You need to be realistic and open to the fact that you may not travel to the destination you want. Going on group holidays is all about compromise and having fun with friends. So keep this in mind too.”

Plan how you’ll sort spending money while away 

There are various money apps people can use when planning a group holiday with friends, which can be helpful for keeping track of spending, especially if it’s more than three people.

However, Price does believe 20 people should be the limit, especially if you are flying somewhere and not booking in advance, and would always advise going on holiday in smaller groups.

“There’s an app called Splitwise, where you can keep a tally of who has paid for what. This could be a very useful tool when it’s time for people to make payments. Sometimes it’s usually easier for the delegated organiser to make the down payment and everyone just sends them the money back, as it can get very messy,” says Price.

“Also, think about ways you can save some money. It’s getting so expensive to travel everywhere. You can share luggage to cut costs, and look at destinations where you might be able to fly to a smaller airport outside the city and get a transfer.

“Don’t book during peak seasons perhaps, such as the summer holidays, as you will always need to pay more. Group discounts are sometimes available too – but this can be a lot of work for one person.”

How can avoid conflict and factor in everyone’s needs?

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Sometimes a bit of conflict and tension is inevitable on a group trip, but there are things you can do to ensure everyone is getting the most out of the holiday and avoid any big arguments erupting!

“You need to work some flexibility into your itinerary,” says Youlden. “There are probably things that everyone agrees are a must-do. For example, say you were going to India as a group, the Taj Mahal is probably going to be one of those must-sees. But then there’ll be other activities or cities where maybe only half the group is interested, and the other half isn’t.”

Consider a themed trip

It’s could be worth thinking about going on a themed holiday. These are more popular now and great for group holidays – that way, you’ll all know what you’re signing up for and there’ll be a shared experience at the heart of it. For example, going on a cooking holiday to Italy.

“I was in Florence last year, and there was an option to tour the city in a golf cart,” says Price. “You can find stuff like this on websites Not In The Guidebooks and Do Something Different.”