While on my trip to Punta Cana, people kept asking me HOW. How are you able to get 22 family members on an international trip. How did you organize it? Get everyone to pay? How did y’all not have any fights or arguments?? Others would say, my family could NEVER. I want to encourage everyone, especially Black folks to not be afraid of the family travel. It provides an excellent opportunity to bond, have a great time and step outside of your everyday norms. Here are some tips on Planning Group Travel.
What is the purpose of traveling with a group, particularly a group of family. For me, convening with family is great and even better when it is in another venue. With everyone on pause from life and responsibilities for a few days just makes everything more fun. Also, there is so much value in experiencing different cultures especially as Black people when you visit other countries that are part of the diaspora.
Use a Travel Agent
I do not use a travel agent for any other trip because I can do my own research and generally enjoy doing it. However, a group trip like this is when you use a travel agent. For one, they can help you get group rates. Gotta be some benefit to traveling with all these people! They can also do payment plans which is very helpful for everyone. Let’s be honest, everyone can’t fork over thousands of dollars at one time. But a payment plan enables more people to be able to afford these types of vacations.
The other benefit of the payment plan through the travel agent is that it allows an outside person to handle the money. Nobody likes having to be the bill collector with their family, there are guaranteed arguments. No one has to put everything on their credit card and then hunt everyone down for their money.
Plan a Year in Advance
A year of planning helps with the payment plan referenced above, but it also helps everyone get their documents in order. For example, during our Punta Cana trip, the dates and details for our next trip were already being decided. If the trip requires passports or visas, it’s helpful to have a year to plan. Give people the time it takes to apply for their passport, a few weeks/month generally. At this point, most of my family have passports, but we often have to remind people to check the expiration date for renewal and such. Many countries will deny you entry if you do not have more than six months until your passport expires so be sure to check that.
With my family, we have essential workers who have to put in their vacation time at the start of the year or bid among their coworkers. A year, gives them enough time to plan. With that in mind, we often often holiday weeks too because it will be easier for them to get off for a week.
Can’t Always Get What You Want
A beach vacation is not my ideal vacation. One of my aunts hates cruises. My sister thinks resorts are stupid. Despite our preferences, we have all done some variation of these on a family vacation. For a group you are going to have to adjust to things that the group wants to do in order to get majority of the group on board for the trip.
Now, while on the trip I believe that everyone should be able to experience some activity that they really enjoy. That means that people will split up to participate in different activities. And that is OKAY. The group does not need to do all the same things every single waking moment. Building in activities with smaller groups or even alone time helps everyone keep it together during the trip.
Maybe all 30 of your first cousins cannot come on the first trip. Everyone didn’t get their passport or someone didn’t schedule being able to take off work, still go! Even if it is just five of you all. Go and call it a family trip. A lot of folks get their crap together when they can tangibly see something, a trip that happened and can easily happen again. If five people go the first year and have a good time, guarantee more will sign up the next year to go. That is what happened with us. Our trip has continued to grow over time.
Everybody Can’t Come
Let’s keep it real, while we love our families we know that everyone is not meant for every situation. There maybe some folks that will not be able to travel on the group trips for a variety of reasons. It could be as simple as they refuse to tip or they always start an argument/fight. Whatever the reason it is, be real with yourselves and decide not to include that person. If everytime you are around your family YOU are party to an argument then you may be the person in your family and it may be best that YOU decide to stay home.
Group trips can have a lot of challenging aspects to them, but if done right they are a good time! Do you travel with your family? If so drop some tips below!