Buddies, pals, mates… whatever you call them, your friends are the people you choose to spend your time with, share your stories with, and oftentimes, travel with. If your last few vacations have been family or couple’s trips, maybe it’s time to mix things up and round up your squad for a week away. Here are four tips for planning a successful friendcation.
1. Choose the right group
The single most important thing about planning your friendcation is choosing the friends you want to travel with. Going on a trip with someone adds elements to the relationship that may not have been there before. There are a few things you and your group should discuss before committing to friendcationing together.
Are your sleep schedules consistent? If you like to wake up at the crack of dawn and start exploring but your travel partners prefer to sleep in and miss the breakfast menu, you may have a problem. If you group of friends shares your travel philosophy, it’ll make your trip so much better.
With the group finalized, it can be a good idea to nominate one person to take charge of planning. Every group of friends has at least one person who can handle this; someone that’s organized and good at making everyone happy. Let that person take the lead and act as liaison with any travel agents or hosts and the group.
2. Pick a date early
Okay – the gang’s all here. Time to pick a date! We can’t stress enough how important it is to pick a date early. Early planning ensures you get to book the accommodations you want instead of “settling” for what’s left. Not only that, but it makes things run a whole lot smoother. Between jobs, relationships, and a little thing called life, finding a date that works for everyone in the group can be difficult. So choose early enough that your calendar is still free before conflicts start to pop up. The earlier you decide on a date, the more time you have to work out the details and the less stress involved in the process.
3. Decide what kind of trip you’re looking for
There are many decisions, big and small, to make during a vacation, and many of them can and should be made before the trip happens. Not only does that allow you to maximize your time away, it reduces the potential for disagreement on location.
Does travel mean the same thing to you? Some people get away to lay by the pool or on the beach all day, while others will want to discover a historical site or eat at the city’s trendy new cafe. Make sure the destination you choose has options that suit everyone.
Don’t feel guilty about breaking up into smaller groups for certain activities and then regrouping later for dinner where all the day’s stories can be shared. It’s more important to enjoy your time away than to stick together like glue every minute of the day.
What amenities does everyone consider absolutely necessary? While some may shrug their shoulders at the idea of staying somewhere with a private pool on-site, others can’t imagine a trip without it. Part of the group might not consider air conditioning important while others will insist on it.
4. Build your itinerary
If there are any major must-do reasons for your trip—say planning a dive excursion or private tour—book before you leave so you’re not disappointed, especially if you’re traveling in a large group. If you don’t know the restaurant scene all that well in your destination or want a few insider tips, you can talk to your local Concierge who has in-depth knowledge of the area and can likely set you up with a reservation you may not be able to get online.
If you prefer to stay in and cook over dining in restaurants every night, look out for villa with a chef-style kitchen and great dining space. For a special occasion you can bring five-star dining to your home with a private chef and staff working right in your villa.
Finally, remember it’s great to travel with friends and make memories together, but it’s also important to have the chance to take time for yourself. No matter how close you are with your travel partners, it can be nice to have some alone time. Work some “me time” apart into the itinerary, whether it’s time spent reading, catching up on emails or family back home, going to a museum alone or just watching a movie. Vacation rental homes offer lots of advantages here; you often get to have your own en-suite room, and maybe even a private terrace. It will make you appreciate the group dynamic even more when you reconvene.