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Emily: Traveling is my biggest passion. Learning new things, interacting with different cultures, and collecting priceless memories are an important part of life!
The best way I’ve found to further enhance those experiences are by sharing them with loved ones! That’s why I try to travel with my friends as often as I can. But traveling with a large group is an art, and there are a few pitfalls that folks should be aware of.
I’ll give you tips to help your group save time, money, and headaches!
Saving Money as a Group
Making plans for a large number of travelers can be inconvenient. After all, making plans for 1 traveler can be hard enough! But there are plenty of ways to ensure everything runs smoothly for a big group.
1. Rent an Apartment Instead of Multiple Hotel Rooms
Groups will save a lot of money by renting an apartment or flat versus staying in hotels. Instead of buying a bunch of rooms at the local hotel, you can search for a whole apartment and split the cost. And if you use my Airbnb referral link, you can get $40 off your next rental!
In Croatia, my friends and I stayed in a soba, which is a private guesthouse. We found the apartment through Booking.com, and it cost just ~$317 per person total for 11 nights. That’s less than $30 each per night!
The great thing about renting private apartments is that most of them have kitchens equipped with basic supplies. My friends and I save a ton of money by going to the supermarket during our trips and eating breakfast and some dinners in the apartment instead of paying for pricey meals in restaurants. Eating at “home” can also save a lot of time, which you can instead spend enjoying the sights!
2. Skip Mass Transit
If you’re only taking a short-distance trip, it can be cheaper and quicker for groups of 2 or more to take a taxi or even rent a car than to navigate public transport. You get to see more, and you’ll reach your destination faster. For example, you’ll miss beautiful architecture if you take the subway. But you’ll see it if you take a cab!
Taxis are often cheaper than buying multiple public transport tickets. But as always, do some research!
That said, sometimes public transportation can be an event in itself! I enjoy mixing with locals, and one way to peer into their world is by public transportation. If your options are either taking a taxi or riding a chicken bus through Guatemala, I would recommend giving the bus a try!
3. Know How to Split the Bill
My friends and I like to use apps like Venmo and PayPal to pay each other for shared costs. We save receipts from shopping at the supermarket and tally up the total throughout our trip. Then we square up at the end of our adventure!
In my experience, it’s easiest if 1 or 2 folks pay for all the shared expenses. Otherwise, it can get confusing. There is usually someone in my group who likes numbers and organizing, so we let them be responsible for tallying the numbers, and assign them fewer chores or other group responsibilities in return.
4. Promote Group Harmony
Know the personalities of the people you will be traveling with. Some folks are planners, and some are not. Some like to go out and party, and some don’t.
When I traveled to Croatia, I knew 2 of the 4 people I was traveling with. We all got along great though, because we were positive and easygoing, and we all had the same passion (dance!). Traveling with a go-with-the-flow and upbeat attitude contributes to group unity and makes traveling a lot more fun!
Make sure you are doing your share of the chores. For example, if someone cooks breakfast, then clean up the dishes afterwards. Tensions can rise when people don’t pick up after themselves, so be considerate.
Choosing the right location also helps with group harmony. With a large group, stay in accommodations that are centrally located, so people can easily do what they want. In Cuba, our group of 7 usually split up based on interests.
For example, a few people from the group went to Viñales, a small farming town near Havana, while the rest of us explored the sights in Havana. It was easy to find taxis and public transportation so we each could do what we wanted.
If you’re traveling for an extended period of time, I’d actually recommend splitting up for a while, just to give each other space. Even before the group senses any tension! Consider building in a “free” day or two where nothing is planned and people can do what they want. Sometimes traveling gets tiring and having integrated down time helps!
5. Don’t Rule out Organized Tours!
Lots of folks shy away from organized tours because they’re afraid of being called a TOURIST (gasp!).
However, organized tours definitely have a time and place! I’d recommend tours to people who don’t have the time or desire to do lots of research before a trip. Planning a trip does take time, and for some it may be worth the cost to pay someone else do it.
Also, some big cities, like Paris, require people take public transportation and walk extensively to get to the best sights. If there are lots of places to see, transportation can add up. An organized tour can help shuttle around travelers so they can travel more comfortably. Plus, you’ll have a knowledgeable guide to provide you with history and facts, which can deepen your experience.
Traveling as a group comes with unique challenges. But it’s totally worth it! I love recounting some of my favorite memories with a group of friends. Group travel strengthens friendships, and helps you to learn a lot about each other!
There are simple ways to save money, do more fun stuff, and grow closer during your adventure. What are your group travel tips?