How to Plan a Large Group Trip

April 17, 2017

One of my biggest goals is to get one side of my family to go on a big trip together. Now, this is still an unrealized goal unfortunately because as we get older, well, schedules suck. Everyone is really busy, and it’s difficult to find a chunk of time that works for a group. We’re also at the point in our lives where if you try to plan 2 years or even a year ahead, you could run into someone getting pregnant and not being able to go for whatever reason. Never thought that would be an issue, but I’ve seen it happen. For example, when we planned our wedding, I remember getting really excited when we hit the 8-month mark and knew we could officially tally up the kids. Yep, these are the things I think about.

Children aside, I’ve been attempting to gather my husband’s family together for a trip somewhere. They love to camp and my sister-in-law had a great point, that the family is growing and some members are not always up for camping. So I’m looking to attempt the almost impossible and see if we can do a… non-camping trip. I think the best idea would be to do a group cruise. It’s a floating hotel that stops at a few ports and everyone can travel together in semi-luxury depending on the cost.

Cruises offer a LOT to do, and there is honestly something for everyone. I’m probably going to make a power point to send to everyone with a cost breakdown and whatnot, but I thought, well if I do that, I should turn it into a post so others could learn from my trials.

So how do I even begin? Please enjoy the following stream of conscious decision-making. For all intents and purposes, I’m targeting a Royal Caribbean cruise option for everyone. There may need to be a subsequent post comparing the top three cruise lines but baby steps, Natalie…

Two ships to compare sizes.

1. Pick a destination

When this first thought occurred to me, I wanted to drag everyone to Peru. Well, I think one day if I can pull this together, that may be a possibility but for now, I think the best starting point would be a Caribbean cruise. It’s sunny, there are beaches, you can swim with marine life, and the dates are flexible among other things. It leaves out of Florida, so for us California peeps, that’s a bit of a long flight. But I’m becoming queen of tracking down flights, I think I can find some reasonable options for everyone.

2. Age demographic and cost breakdowns

Now this particular group has varying age groups and with that comes varying incomes. This is where I feel it gets tricky because one group may shy away due to cost, which is completely understandable. The best defense, in my opinion, is to give everyone a solid number to target. We have a year at least to plan, so, hopefully, everyone can save accordingly. This will require work on everyone’s part but I’m definitely going to offer help in getting people to save, plus they can see my list of savings apps from this post!

The youngest in our group who would probably have to pay their own way is almost 21 and still in college. Again, this is tricky because she may need her own breakdown due to her income level. I should also remark that this family is also made up of about 3-4 branches (branch = mom and dad, 3-4 kids) as well. So I could also go the route of trying to do a breakdown per branch so to speak. However, each branch has also started to um, branch out more so it could turn into 10 or more cost breakdowns.

Perhaps the best way is to break down room options and get the low and high costs and offer those up instead. I think this might be the best way because then everyone can see what’s available and if they can fit this in.

3. When to go?

Another tricky aspect! Cruise costs change per date and summer will always be more expensive. So while I want to break down the room costs, they change depending on what date we go. I think the best option here would be to pick a couple potential dates and maybe show a full calendar at the end, but at least everyone would have ballpark prices to go off of.

4. Duration of the trip

In my vast experience, cough sarcasm cough, if you’re going to spend the money, it’s worth it to take a 7-day cruise. That’s why when you do a search for a shorter one, you have an extended weekend cruise for 3-4 days and then barely any options for 5 or 6-day cruise and a plethora of 7-day cruise options to choose from. It’s worth noting that it says “7 days” but that includes the day you ship off (at around 3 or 4 PM) and the day you return at like 6 AM. So it’s technically a 5 full day cruise.

5. Enticing a group of people to go

Eric had never been on a cruise before our honeymoon and subsequently wasn’t aware of what it was exactly. He was also nervous about seasickness among other things. I’ve been on 3 cruises now, and I am a big fan of them. However, I will say the quality of the “all inclusive” idea behind them has seriously gone down hill. When I went with my mom when I was 15, we got way more things included in the price than we did when we went last year. Companies have a bottom line, I get it, but it’s still frustrating.

Most cruises packages include access to several pools, all meals, and snacks (up to a certain point), rock climbing, mini golf, table tennis, basketball courts, theater shows, ice skating rinks, 3D movie theater, nightclubs and that’s just some of the options.

They also offer onboard workshops where you can make jewelry, pottery (I believe) and other random things, some exercise classes like yoga, and varying entertainment is in the parades and movie nights. Then they have other options that are extra like the spa amenities and the casino. It’s hard to get bored. Let’s just say that.

I want to be upfront but still make it an exciting opportunity, you know, because at the end of the day we all get to travel and hang out together!

Final thought

So honestly, after breaking this down, we’re looking at about 25 people that could potentially go, and that’s a lot of schedules to figure out. I know not everyone would be able to go because of work or cost, but ideally I hope we can get a good turnout because they say the more the merrier right?

I can’t stress enough that I think cruises truly offer something for everyone and if there was ever going to a mass migration somewhere, a cruise offers the most flexible options as far as dates and costs go.

With that said, anyone want to go? I’ll plan everything! ^_^

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