Have you spent countless hours planning the perfect trip with friends only to have it canceled or ruined? If you are planning a trip for the first time with friends or relatives you might want to cover some basics to ensure a drama free time. Here are my tips that I’ve learned through the years.
1. Discuss payment terms and refund policies at the onset of travel plans. What happens if a girlfriend bails on you at the last minute? Is she still responsible for payment? Is money refundable up until a certain date? Does everyone need to purchase trip insurance in case of cancellations? Friends always have the best intentions when planning a trip but life will get in the way so make sure someone else’s woes don’t affect your fun. Discussing trip cancellation consequences and insurance options is a must.
2. What out of pockets costs should everyone expect to pay? Little things like transfers to and from the airport, hotel taxes, and tips add up fast and you’d be surprised how many people don’t take this into consideration. It’s not cool when you’re the only one who has tip money for the maid, shuttle driver, baggage handler, etc. Set a reasonable miscellaneous budget of at least $10 to $15 per day per person for these types of costs. You may want to discuss a similar entertainment budget also.
3. Is food and drink covered? If it isn’t, what will be the average cost that someone should expect to pay? What’s the average cost of a meal in Las Angeles? Dubai? Miami? Will you be splitting the check evenly or based upon what you ordered? Don’t give your buddy the hard stare if he orders 5 drinks and a porterhouses steak after you agreed to split the check evenly and you only got some wings and one beer.
4. Are you laid back or the consummate planner when vacationing ? Do you want to have a planned itinerary for every available moment of your day or take each day as it comes? Manage expectations up front if you have differing opinions on how you like to spend your vacations. Maybe the group plans to do a couple of things together and agree to decide on other activities or excursions in the moment and try to make it a win, win for everyone.
5. Solo vs. Group? Have you gone on vacation and just wanted a few minutes to yourself? You wanted a little solitude but your friends wanted to do everything together? Don’t be afraid to speak up if you want to do some things on your own. Remember, it’s your vacation too.
6. Room etiquette – have you ever shared a room with someone that uses all of the towels? Where do these people come from? Or they want to use all of your toiletries? Claim your towel and special hanging spot and suggest the front desk or local pharmacy for those in need of their own toothpaste, deodorant, lotion, hairspray, etc.
7 – Safety First – Before you go your separate ways for a day excursion or after you’ve met someone “hot” at the club, get and give phone numbers, address, and a picture of a current ID of any “new” friends to your friends just in case. You can never be too careful these days. If your friend is not making the best judgement calls after a few drinks, step in and help them out. Don’t assume a stranger has your good friends safety in mind.
Get the particulars out the way and have fun!
Cherise V. Stewart, CTO