Usually I write about Destination Weddings or Couple Travel but today I am going to branch into something I have been trying to organize lately: a FAMILY vacation (although the steps I describe apply to any large group) . It is completely different than planning a destination wedding because with weddings the bride and groom make the decisions and guests decide if they want to go on the trip or not.
J and I are organizing a big family trip and inviting extended family to partake in the vacation with us. We are not 100% sure how many people will be interested but I thought the more information I can collect for people the more that they will be able to see if it is something they can commit too. So the following is some information on what you want to know about your group before approaching a travel agent. I personally DO recommend a travel agent for every trip you take (it’s not more expensive – trust me) but especially for a trip where there are many different people contributing money to the trip. You don’t want to be responsible for collecting money from family or friends do you?
So here are the following steps to organizing a big trip
- Is there a set location or do you want to decide this with the people you are inviting? For J and I, the purpose of the trip is to get his grandfather back to Germany one more time so the location is not something the group can be flexible with. However, if the purpose is a family reunion or something like that you may want to come up with a few suggestions and get people to vote.
- How long can everyone get away for? And what budget is everyone comfortable with? Here is where I think it is nice to provide a few options. I am planning a proposed itinerary and budget for both a one week trip to Germany and a two week trip to Germany. I am not sure a two week trip will be feasible for everyone but since airfair is a big expense the price difference is as much as you might think. Ideally people will seel how much more you get out of two weeks for the price but not everyone will be able to get two weeks off work.You have to find something that will work best for the majority of the people in the group. Don’t want to research the options yourself? If you are commited to the trip but want an expert to do the planning for you, usually a travel agent will provide options with a deposit of around $200 that you can use toward the trip you decide.
- What level of accomodation is everyone comfortable with? And do you want to book the accomodation ahead of time or book as you go? You might be surprised what people answer! If you are going with young friends everyone might be OK with hostel-style boarding. Families might have higher standard like private rooms/adjoing rooms etc. Also going with friends they may love the idea of booking as you go but usually families prefer a little more structure.
- Once these major things have been decided you can start working with a travel agent if you haven’t already! Most plances will let everyone put a deposit down and then just pay off the trip at your own pace. A travel agent puts the money out of your hands so even if you are the one organizing the trip you don’t need to have any awkward conversations about money with your closest family and friends which is a major perk to me! Even if you decide not to book accomodation ahead of time you will want a third party to arrange flights for you. Also, you can still get your travel agent to schedule hotels that are strictly free cancellation, pay on arrival for your group if you don’t want to pay ahead but want the structure.
Anything you think I have missed? What do you discuss when booking a big group?? Any tips and tricks?