A number of months in the past, I celebrated my fortieth birthday in Paris. Upon my return, whereas I did get a few restaurant advice requests, what most individuals actually wished to know was, “How did you plan a trip for so many people?!” Because y’all, I threw a Parisian social gathering with my 11 closest associates. So, when you’re questioning tips on how to plan a group journey, boy—do I’ve solutions.
To be clear, that’s not hyperbole. I maintain these individuals near my coronary heart, and there’s nobody I’d reasonably have a good time such a milestone birthday with. And whereas I do have a knack for each planning and bringing the proper group of individuals collectively, I used to be a little shocked by how effectively this journey went.
Featured picture by Michelle Nash.
If you’ve been following Priya Parker for so long as I’ve, then you know the way essential it’s to know what she calls the “art of gathering.” Priya was a large inspiration for each approaching the planning of this journey and the telling of the story that I’m reflecting upon right here.
If you’ve gotten a massive celebration forward, these are my high 10 suggestions for tips on how to plan a group journey. Of course, whereas the expertise was seamless, and one which I’ll always remember, no journey unfolds with out a few surprises. I’ll preface it right here: The one consistency amongst all the following pointers is flexibility.
Because whereas planning and prep are each paramount, of-the-moment shifts are inevitable. The key’s embracing them.
10 Tips for Planning a Group Trip That You’ll Remember for Years To Come
Consider Personality Types
Who do you want to celebrate with? Seems like an easy question, but as you plan your group trip, it’s crucial to think about. For this one, I wanted it to feel easygoing, fun, accommodating, spontaneous, silly, and full of energy-givers (a long list, I know).
I had to consider who would work well in a space together, who is excited and cool with being around new people, and who can spark a conversation with anyone. When I tell you this group clicked so well immediately and had the best time, I mean it. Literally: There were exactly zero moments of frustration, annoyance, or attitude. In fact, it was quite the opposite.
There was more laughter than I thought possible. (The name of our group text thread has changed no less than 25 times—the inside jokes just keep rolling in.) Take the time to reflect and consider who you’re bringing together. Do you want to manage egos all throughout the trip or sit back and watch beautiful friendships form?
Depending on where you’re traveling, keep in mind that the more people you have, the harder it might be to make reservations, book the same train tickets, or get in anywhere as a big group. Thankfully, in the instance of my Paris trip, we were able to do two separate tables, splitting the couples up to a men’s and a women’s table. Be sure to plan in advance though, as it’s harder to accommodate larger parties.
Keep the Itinerary Open
With the exception of a one-day trip to Reims (located in France’s Champagne region for champagne tasting) and my 40th birthday dinner, I kept the itinerary open and loose for everyone to choose their own adventure. I shared a few things I’d like to see in Paris, but knowing that I had five couples joining the trip who may not have traveled or spent time away from their kids in recent years, I wanted to leave it open so they could have their own Paris experience, too. That freedom allowed everyone to have their own solo time and come together as a group.
Communication Is Key
I was quick to get the group on an email and text thread not only to keep everyone informed on updates but to also allow everyone to begin building some familiarity and rapport before we met in Paris. It’s amazing how quickly inside jokes can materialize through text and email!
Ask for Advanced Needs
Just as you’d approach any kind of gathering, asking your friends if they have any specific needs (dietary restrictions, not drinking, ADA-compliant rooms, etc.) will help set them at ease. What’s more, this advance planning will show your guests how much you care about them when booking any reservations or experiences. This might also serve as an open invite for a friend to share what’s going on in their world so you can be mindful of when they may need rest, space, or anything else that will help them feel supported.
Let Your Guests Decide
From where to stay to what they want to do, let your guests structure their experience. The one event I wanted everyone to attend was my birthday dinner. Beyond that, the whole trip was free-game. Some of my guests came for different parts of the week and others stayed the entire time. Remember: We’re all operating on different schedules, with different budgets, and coming from different contexts. I always want to come from a place of gratitude. Keep in mind that your guests chose to spend time with and to celebrate you.
Learn What They’re Excited About
What do your guests want to see? What do they want to do? Chances are, the answers to both of these questions are roughly the same—making the task of planning a day all the more simple. (Bonus: It gives you more opportunities to connect!)
Lots of folks in our group wanted to see the same museums and first-timers were adamant about catching the Eiffel Tower or stopping at the same great falafel spot (Hint: this was the clear winner!). Because of this, we were able to connect for a few serendipitous moments.
Discuss Money Up Front
Larger groups likely mean you’ll be splitting meals and will owe people money at some point. Before you dive into these conversations, know this: Talking about money doesn’t have to be awkward.
Several apps (like Splitswise, or, in fact, Venmo) can be utilized for bigger teams. We made the determination to Venmo on the spot after meals when one individual grabbed the invoice. Just don’t overlook to incorporate the alternate fee, making certain that whoever pays is absolutely reimbursed.
Carve Out One-on-One Time for Everyone
As a lot as attainable, be sure to’re attending to spend intimate moments with everybody who took the day trip of their busy lives to have a good time you or to affix you for the journey. Change up who you sit by at meals, on trains, or on walks. Ask how they’re doing. Make certain you’re checking in and exhibiting that you simply care. It’ll make them really feel seen, and also you’ll shortly be taught if it’s essential make any changes to the schedule.
Ask Someone To Plan One of the Days
I really like internet hosting and bringing individuals collectively. It’s one in all my biggest joys and pleasures. But it may be considerably exhausting to ensure that everyone seems to be having a good time and that I get to spend intentional time with every individual. In hindsight, I’d have beloved sooner or later to “be the guest” of the social gathering and never have to consider something. So when you’re going via the steps of tips on how to plan a group journey, take into account providing up a day for another person and ask when you can take a backseat.
If You’re Planning a Paris-Specific Trip
- Day-trip to Reims for a champagne tasting. Our favorite house was Taittinger.
- Shop at Le Bon Marché, one in all the most iconic indoor malls à la Barney’s (RIP) in the US
- Eat at Frenchie on Rue de Nil. They don’t take reservations so get their early!
- Grab oysters at Regis Huiterie.
- Late evening drinks at Le Comptoir. Don’t miss this well-known spot the place they convey you a full plate of butter and bread as you sip an unimaginable collection of wines.
- If you like jam, you will need to go to La Chambre aux Confitures. My favourite factor to do is seize a jar, a baguette, some fromage and charcuterie (plus a good wine!) and sit on the Seine to individuals watch.
- Last however not least: It’s not a journey to Paris with out dinner at La Fontaine de Mars.