The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai

World's largest man-made island

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If you have a core group of friends or family that you spend a lot of time with, you may want to consider taking a group vacation. With careful planning, patience, and a lot of communication between all parties, you can put together a group vacation that will be filled with good memories of fun times had bay all – and your friendship will still be intact after the vacation is over.

If you decide to take a group vacation, first get the parties together discuss some of the parameters of the trip – such as time of year, type of trip (ocean, mountain, desert etc) you will be taking. We then suggest appointing a leader, either by having someone volunteer, or by voting. This person will become the main point of contact for everyone involved in the trip – from participants to vendors (hotels, restaurant reservations, etc.). This will probably be a big undertaking, so if you volunteer, or are “volunteered by vote,” then make sure you have an idea of what you are getting into before you accept. Also, select one or two others to delegate to throughout the process, just in case the planning gets to be more than what one person can handle.

Next, take the time to come up with a budget and even set up an account that participants can deposit money into in order to make it easier for the planner to make reservations with – we say this because it is not fair for the person doing the planning to assume all financial responsibility as well. By having a deposit account, it will be easier to keep up with who has deposited and who hasn’t and it may even be a good idea to ask each “family” for small cushion (like $50) to cover any incidental amounts like bank fees, taxes on hotels, and things like that. Another idea to consider budgeting for is groceries, especially if you choose to rent a house for your vacation. This way, a good portion of the food expenses has already been taken care of before hand.

As you will find, once you set up an “initial budget,” which includes all of the incidentals you have previously decided upon (lodging, travel expenses, food, etc), the destination is the next step. You may find that if you try to pick the destination first, before coming up with a workable budget, that the destination is either too expensive, or, that you could actually afford a more exotic trip. Thus, precious planning time could be wasted. When picking your destination, come up with three ideas that everyone would enjoy and then take a vote – majority rules. This also gives any potential participant the ability to back out if they are unhappy with the package before you get to far in the planning process – which could cause major problems like incurring cancellation fees.

Now, onto accommodations and travel expenses… Depending on where you decide to go will depend on what’s available. You will find that there will be places to stay from houses, to individual hotel rooms, to condos, and everything in between. Your budget will have a lot to do with where you will be staying, just make sure you communicate all of the available accommodation options to the trip participants before booking the space. Also, many times, you can get a discount when you book a group, so be sure to ask about that as well as cancellation policies before moving forward with booking airfare or accommodations.

One important thing to remember when planning is not to have everyone spend all of his or her time together as a group. All couples and families go on vacation to spend time together as a unit, so they should be allowed to do so. Do allocate plenty of free time for people to go out and explore their surroundings on their own, but plan a group dinner for one of the nights and maybe an activity or two during the course of your stay. This works out well for multi-generational group trips as well as for groups that include children.

As you can see, having a pre-planned budget before getting too far into the planning process will make planning the rest of the trip a lot easier. Also, either take a moment to thank the trip planner with a small gift like a bottle of wine, or a gift certificate to their favorite store, or as a group put together a gift basket in advance for the person planning the trip as a way to thank them for taking the time to put together the trip – making it “worth their while” is also a great way to give someone else incentive to take on the following year’s planning.

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