How do you plan the perfect girls trip (along with a baby or two)? It can be tricky with everyone’s conflicting schedules, varying interests/preferences, and budgets! Thankfully, the digital world has made it easier to coordinate these aspects. I have a few go-to sources that I love using when planning trips with others. Once these steps are handled, I can factor in how to balance my kids with the trip, which surprisingly is manageable.
- Select a Date: I love using Doodle Poll to narrow down a date that works for the majority of the participants. Doodle Poll is very user-friendly, and it is very simple to create options and send the link. To avoid overwhelming people, I suggest sending a concise list of options to select from (based on preliminary conversations of the availabilities of key attendees). People who are pregnant or have children, can think through when they will feel comfortable to travel or when it is feasible.
- Select a Destination: Use Survey Monkey to create a form on destination preferences to select the most popular one! Having the date in mind before this step is helpful in order to make sure the weather and season is right for specific destinations. It also allows people to do some quick searches on flight pricing to the destination.
- Select Lodging: Once the destination is selected, you can conduct some research and ask the attendees on preferences on an house rentals vs. hotels. Although house rentals are usually ideal for group trips, because of COVID, a lot of people opt for privacy in hotels. Additionally, if any of you are taking kids with you, a hotel will allow a bit more comfort to manage the kids (and ensure the people without kids get some space). When I book hotels, I like using Booking.com, and for house rentals, I prefer AirBnB. If you opt for a hotel, find out what amenities are available for kids. I love this article on The Points Guy on amenities available at US hotels for kids.
- Book any excursions/activities: Check tools like Trip Advisor and Groupon for excursions and top rated activities in your destination. Book in advance to avoid disappointment! Try not to pile on too much for the trip, as things pop up (especially with a large group or kids tagging along), and it can be stressful trying to change bookings, especially those that are non-refundable. Ensure everyone is on board with the activities, and if there are set timings, think realistically if it will work for the kids that are going to be on the trip with you. For example, if your infant eats lunch at noon, you likely don’t want to book anything for then. Additionally, make a list of activities that don’t require bookings, but that your group would like to do.
- Make restaurant reservations: Check Open Table and Trip Advisor for the top rated restaurants. If you are able to make reservations, book for the exact number of people you have in the party, and make sure to request any necessary high chairs. If the restaurant does not take reservations, send them a note and ask about their waiting list or how early they recommend arriving. Also, confirm that they have high chairs available (if you need them). As much as you can plan out is ideal to ensure meals are streamlined.
- Consolidate the trip itinerary into a spreadsheet on Google Spreadsheets: Include tabs of different information such as flight information of all the members, an itinerary, links to specific activities, contact information, a packing list, etc. It will help to keep everyone on the same page as much as possible.
- Divide expenses: When planning a group trip, usually one or two people have to manage the bulk of bookings on their cards. I always prefer to sort out most of the expenses immediately. I like using Splitwise to input all the expenses for the trip and calculate who owes who what. To complete the payment, I like using Venmo or Zelle. Realistically, more costs might pop up during the trip, but if the lodging and excursion costs are sorted out, the additional expenses should be relatively minor.
Have you planned a group trip, along with taking your infant along with the group? What were some of your lessons learned in the planning of the trip?