I have a massive family and we’re always travelling together, anywhere from a day trip to the beach to a two-week cruise. I’ve also been on a summer camp through Asia with fifty other students, so I have certainly been around the block with travelling in big groups. But, until spring break this year, when I travelled to Barcelona with nine of my friends, I never had to be a part of planning it. Here are some tips that we learned along the way for how to make the process as easy as possible!
1. Allow time for adventures
Once you have the basics for your trip, such as flights and accommodation, try to stay lenient with your other plans. It’s a good idea to have a general plan before you start your day but fellow time to find spots off the beaten path through just walking around. One day we planned a trip down La Rambla, a very popular shopping street in Barcelona, and allowed the whole day to just walk down it. We ended up finding a fun market (Mercat de la Boqueria), and had a nice walk along the boardwalk.
Top Tip: Buy museum tickets online ahead of time to avoid the queues and allow for more time to explore. You might even get a group discount.
2. Don’t be afraid to split upEveryone has a different dream vacation, some like to just relax and others like non-stop touring. People also have different budgets and ideas of what they want to spend their money on. It’s difficult to make everyone happy all the time, so compromise is a necessity. To accommodate this, sometimes the group will need to be split into smaller groups. One day, a few of us wanted to go into the Sagrada Familia and others just wanted a snack and a lay in the sun. We picked a sunny spot next to the Basilica and planned to meet there in one hour, so everyone was happy!
Top Tip: If you want to do something that no one else in the group is interested in, don’t miss your opportunity; just set a time and place to meet up with your friends afterwards.
3. Factor in hangover time
Sadly, hangovers still occur even when on vacation. To tackle this, on the first day we bought lots of breakfast foods and paracetamol! Every morning we had a big breakfast together and only planned group activities after noon, so some of us could do morning things while the others recovered in bed. It’s best to keep this in mind so you’re not feeling groggy every day! Be smart and take time to recover so you can have a nicer vacation.
Top Tip: Plan your breakfast in pyjamas to ease yourself into the day.
4. Be smart with your transport
Public transport is your friend. Barcelona has great public transportation, with very easy to navigate bus and metro routes. On the first day we all bought a 10-journey pass and used the metro daily. But don’t forget about taxis, they seem expensive, but with a lot of people to split the fare between, it is much more affordable! Apps such as MyTaxi and Uber can make the transportation process even more easy, safe and convenient.
Top Tip: Compare public transport passes in advance to figure out the cheapest option.
5. Don’t let a disaster ruin the trip
Try to keep track of your belongings, but if you lose something, it’s not the end of the world. The first night of our adventures we stepped off the metro and my friends’ phone was gone. We tried to call, tried Find My iPhone, but it was unreachable. She stayed calm, was sad and annoyed, but realized that there was nothing to be done. We immediately messaged her parents through my phone and had her phone wiped. Instead of letting the situation ruin her whole vacation, we fixed the problem and moved on!
Top Tip: If you are prone to losing things, keep the passport in a safe place at your accommodation and bring another form of ID on your outings!
Vacationing with a big group of friends can seem intimidating, but the main way to have fun is to be open to changes of plan. Once the necessities are booked, have a vague, flexible itinerary for every day with a few pre-booked tours and tickets for your favourite attractions. Remember that you’re on vacation, so have fun with it!
Images courtesy of Jana Tauschinski.