Road tripping through National Parks with ten friends was one of the coolest college experiences. There were some ups and downs (mostly ups) … I definitely learned a good bit! Below I’ve outlined everything I’ll be keeping in mind as I plan my next trip for a large group. If you’re interested in what exactly we did, check out the itinerary post here.
While I wouldn’t change our trip for the world, there are definitely things I’ll keep in mind for future adventures:
- Have a relatively solid plan before you begin inviting the masses to join you. It is ten times easier to convince friends to buy a cross-country plane ticket once there’s an itinerary with rough budget breakdowns on a Google Doc they can review (and show their parents). Saying “I want to see the Grand Canyon” is different than knowing how exactly you’re getting there, where you’ll be sleeping that night, etc.
- Be flexible and be reasonable. When you’re traveling with a large group, there is going to be someone with a major allergy, someone who isn’t comfortable speeding to pass other drivers on narrow roads, whatever. Everyone should be willing to accommodate those types of situations. However, by the same token, if you are the only person demanding something when the rest of the group needs to move on, you should be flexible too.
- Assign specific tasks to specific people. It’s so easy to fall victim to the bystander effect if details need to be sorted. Real-life example: we discussed the possibility of stopping at Grand Staircase-Escalante with the free day in our itinerary. However, no one actually looked into campsite locations… we just followed Google Maps to the visitors center. The sun was setting, the entrance road was barricaded off, and there was a big sign saying absolutely no overnight parking is allowed. We luckily found a great lakeside campsite ten miles away (thanks, Siri). The drama could have definitely been avoided had we not all assumed someone else was checking it out.
- Keep a running tab of shared expenses. When you’re collectively using things like gas or firewood, it isn’t fair to lose track of who foots the bill. On a longer trip, it’s unreasonable to Venmo each other every few hours. Have everyone pay for things on a credit card, so each person has a list of whatever they’ve purchased. At the end of the trip, compile those expenses on a Google Doc. Have a couple of your accounting-savvy friends break it up however is most reasonable. For us, there were a couple of people who put up significantly more than others, such as putting a hotel room on their card. It turned out easier to only have people pay them back to balance out (e.g., three people send one person the difference between their contributions). Simplify the amount of transactions that need to go on between the group.
If you have any other top tips for organizing a similar trip, please leave suggestions in the comments below! I am always drafting up itineraries, and would love all the tips I get to make those trips happen.