When I was 13, our church youth group decided to take a trip to Cape May, NJ. We thought it would be a great bonding experience and great fun, since most of us hadn’t yet traveled beyond the borders of our small town. This was, of course, long before the days of the internet and access to abundant information on group travel planning.
We piled into cars marked with “Cape May or Bust,” loaded down with sleeping bags, pillows, LOTS of beach gear, and even a TV (yep- someone thought that was a good idea!). What we didn’t have was enough deodorant for our teenage passengers or a clear idea of our travel plan. As a result, we slept on the floor a local church, showered with a hose in the back yard of said church, and returned home feeling less like we bonded and more like survivors of a catastrophic event!
Fortunately, today’s travelers have it a bit easier. A quick search online can help identify resources and help you plan for a fabulous group travel experience for all ages! As a fellow travel enthusiast, I’m going share some of the best tips for planning group travel directly online in this series.
Purpose of Your Trip
There’s a reason for every adventure! While it may seem obvious, it’s very helpful to identify your group’s purpose for traveling. Perhaps you are the leader of your youth group looking to create a bonding experience (good luck!) or a classroom teacher hoping to connect your curriculum to real world experiences. Maybe you are a coach taking the team to a tournament in an unfamiliar state or a music director aspiring to showcase your group’s talents at a new and exciting venue. Think about the purpose of your trip and what you want your group to take away from the experience- it will really help clarify your planning!
When to Travel
The best time to travel depends on a number of factors – weather, school schedules, vacation time, tournaments, etc. Consider the following…
Spring: The weather in March through May is warmer in the southern states than the northern. If you travel during this period, reserve flights and hotels far in advance to avoid disappointment during this busy group travel period. Remember, most school trips take place in March, April and May due to spring break, grad nights, and more.
Summer: Summer offers the most flexibility, but keep in mind that if your trip includes youth, many students may have summer jobs, travel with their families, participate in sports or go to camp. If you are a religious, reunion or sports group, a summer trip is probably one of the best times for you to travel.
Fall: This is prime time for corporate meetings, religious retreats, scouting trips and more. Airfares are traditionally less expensive in the fall which can benefit your budget.
Winter: This is a marvelous time to travel since you probably won’t encounter the congestion of a summer trip. Many groups travel to warmer climates to escape the cold while others embrace it through winter activities like ski excursions. Remember though, if you are flying, airfares are higher and winter weather could force flight delays. You may also have trouble recruiting because the winter holidays are times for family gatherings.
Choose Your Planning Resource
Once you have identified your purpose and timeframe for traveling, you’ll be ready to tackle the rest of the trip details. Planning your own group travel can be overwhelming if you’ve never done it before or if you are using the wrong resources. However, sites like Group Travel Odyssey can help simplify the process with tons of great resources available at the click of a button (a little different than planning our ill-fated Cape May trip!). Once you have identified your purpose and timeframe for traveling, you’ll be ready to tackle the rest of the trip details.
Next in the Series- Choose Your Destination