Note to readers- I wrote this blog before the beloved ski trip was cancelled but now restrictions are being lifted I thought this would still help you. So please read and dream with me about the ski trip that could’ve been and note the additional work it takes to postpone trips!
2022 has seen the return of more ‘normal’ travel which on one hand allows us to breathe a huge sigh of relief, yet on the other brings a new level of complication. Mind you the complications were always there when you’re planning a group trip.
This is something I’ve become very familiar with, being a professional family member 😂😂
So as we embark on our annual family ski trip (10 of us) I knew the tips I’ve picked up might help you too. Some of these are majorly useful for international travel but also just help you organise a group and all the activities/reservations that come with it.
So, buckle up, here goes!
1- Get ONE PLACE where you keep everything for the trip.
So, you might have a whatsapp group for you and the other guests, an Airbnb messenger with the accommodation host, various emails for restaurants, transfers etc. So take some time to set up one space where you will keep everything. For me this is a simple gmail folder. All the emails go into there, for more complex trips they’re in sub categories such as activities, tables, hire, travel etc.
In there keep a link to the Google sheet with all the details on one, across tabs. So I have passenger details, finance/spend tracker with who owes what, dietary details, agenda with links to the emails/venues where we have bookings etc.
I’ve tried sharing this document with others to get them to input details and help, I wouldn’t do this again. Your passengers should just stay in the one whatsapp group and then you can transfer any info from there onto your sheet.
2- DOODLE POLLS
Don’t ask for full opinions and ideas on the whatsapp group- but do offer some options. So instead of saying- what does everyone want to eat on the Monday night- just do a poll of options for the Monday and go with the majority.
This is super helpful for self catering accommodation. Set up a kitty that will be used for the shopping whilst on hols, picking up the wine, the nibbles, the takeouts etc. It’s much easier and you won’t end up with all the ‘bill splitting and sorting’ after the holiday. This can also work for trips to the bar (thinking of skiing here) get one person to have the kitty (cash or we use starling so I collect it and pop it in a space), and then hand that to whoever’s going to the bar.
4- PASSENGER LOCATORS
Drop all the details needed for the passenger locator into the whatsapp group so people can use it to fill in their own forms. This varies country to country but be sure to include, flight details, accommodation details, arrival/travel dates and times. They may also need seat number details so be sure to add that.
This just stops the constant questions people will ask you, at different times as they get round to doing their own forms.
5- ALLOW TIME
Yep, when travelling together on a flight or even in convoy on the motorway, allow more time than if it’s just the two of you hopping in a car with a bag or two. I’ve found that travel since the pandemic needs more time anyway, so just embrace it and enjoy the process rather than resent it.
6- THE RESEARCH STAGE
When you’re sending ideas and options to people, send with costs and dates and other info which gives them a full picture and stops the constant questioning.
ALWAYS make bookings when there’s a group of you. There’s nothing more frustrating than being on holiday and just wondering around an unfamiliar place being turned away from restaurants time and time again.
8- PAPERWORK and BATTERY PACKS
Keep a paper copy of what you can, it’s a pain, it’s not good for the trees but at the moment it’s a great way of making sure you’re not delayed by the failure of technology. Think boarding passes, vaccination status’s, transfer bookings, passenger locator forms.
Also, keep a battery pack with you, we missed a flight and due to the additional 6 hours both phones died. We had everything printed but having no podcasts to help relax us or YouTube to distract the 3yo was a pain in the a**.
Getting support where you can is a majorly important part to not cracking up when you’re booking this. It’s your holiday too and it can often be seen as totally unfair that one person organises it all, but it is also the best way to make sure that everything is sorted. That doesn’t mean you can’t delegate some things. Think- in resort services can anyone deliver shopping/drinks/book tables/childcare etc. Or even give someone in the group something to do, can one person look after reservations and one person sort transport- this can help as they’re taking a full section not just one part. Also, as a VA we look after a lot of travel and personal/life admin so book a call with us to see how we can give you the headspace to focus and enjoy!
10- AVOID PACKAGES
It seems too easy at this point to move to using a full package, but to me that’s relinquishing too much control and gives you little options for flexibility.
If you want some help with this and make some space to enjoy it, feel free to loop me in. I wish you all the luck for all the wonderful travel 2022 offers us.