Picking a travel destination as a group

If you’ve ever planned a trip for a group of people, you know how frustrating it can be.  I love traveling with other people as it’s a great time to explore and learn together.  Plus you have the company of each other while you’re waiting at airports, and the comic relief when you’re on your last leg.  I’ve written a post on tips for traveling with other couples, which include avoiding hanger and being flexible.  However, choosing a destination can be tricky as we all have different travel dreams and destinations that we want to go to.

Recently, we were trying to pick a destination with another couple, and my husband came up with a great exercise for narrowing down our choices.  We got out some world maps, an atlas and a giant white board.  Then we started the fun part.

Where do you want to go?  We were asked to choose our top three destinations that we wanted to travel to.  Regardless of time of year, flight time or any other deterrents.  It would be anywhere in the world.  Once we had our three destinations, they were all different, but some were in the same continent.  Some were the exact same destinations, and some were completely not near any other destinations chosen.  

2.  What was your favorite thing about your last trip?  The next thing we did was think back on the last trip we took and consider what our favorite part of the trip was.  For example, was it that seeing a particular museum?  Was it the day when you had nothing planned and you stumbled onto a beautiful beach?  What was it?  And not just the activity, but the essence of the activity.  For example, what was it that you liked?  Did you like seeing the history of a building , was that what really moved you?  Or was it the trees blowing near the building that you enjoyed the most?  Once we all had our favorite thing, we looked for patterns.  Were a lot of the favorites nature-related?  City-related?  Non-destination specific, such as “relaxation”?  These patterns will come in handy later when you begin to narrow things down.

3.  What was your least favorite thing about your last trip?  Maybe there were multiple things, but what was the worst part?  Too many activities jammed into one day?  Too much traveling to and from, and not enough time in one destination?  The hotels all sucked?  What was it?  And again, look for patterns.  Did people feel they had too much time in one destination, or not enough time?  Did they not have enough alone time, what was it? 

4.  Use the patterns to narrow down the places.  Consider the list in light of your favorite and least favorite parts of traveling.  Are there places that would be mainly museums and no one really liked that the last time?  Are there places that are way too far to fly, and that was someone’s least favorite part?  Was there a place that has killer food and that’s what someone loved the last time?  Narrow down as much as you can with these.

5.  Consider the time of year you’re going on the trip.  Now, consider if you can do the things you really want to do at the time of the year you’re going.  With a group of people, you’re working with everyone’s schedules which means there most likely will be one time of year that works for everyone.  This will be what you have to work with.  

6.  How many of these places can we get in one trip?  If a lot of people picked European destinations, can you do a few of these in one trip?  What makes the most sense?  If you have a European, North American and Asian destination, you’re going to have to narrow that down to one continent most likely.  

7.  Evaluate the results.  This was a group effort, and surprisingly we narrowed it down to three possibilities and everyone was happy with any of the options.  We took into consideration everyone’s least and favorite parts of traveling, and realized that we could all be pleased with a trip to one of three places.  With a little more research on our parts, we can narrow it down even further to the perfect spot for this group, at one time of year.  Not only was this beneficial, and it didn’t involve us trying to convince each other why everyone should agree on MY destination, but it was fun.  Thinking of all the places we could go together, and all the things we could see, we realized that we could all be pleased by one or more aspects of everyone’s destinations.  Especially when we realized that some of it wasn’t the actual destination, but the activities we’d do and HOW the trip would be planned out so everyone isn’t run ragged.  

How do you choose a destination for a group of people?

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