Friday, November 9, 2007

Going with the Gang: On the ground

You've got the time, the place, the budget. But that doesn't mean you're all got the same agenda.

It's unrealistic to expect the group to spend all its time together. (And doing so is probably a set-up for strained relations, either during the trip or thereafter.)

The trick: balancing individual time with group time ... and being clear up front which is which.

The answer: A loose itinerary. Set it up before you go, keeping these thoughts in mind.


  • Dinner is a natural. But unless you're on a cruise ship, you've got to set a time and place. And if your group is larger than 4, reservations often are essential. (On cruise ships with "alternative restaurants,'' you'll need reservations as well.)

    On our first "siblings'' reunion in Las Vegas, we ended up wandering around the oversized hotel trying to find a place that would take our group of eight on a Saturday night.

    The next time around, we got smarter. A sister who knows Santa Fe well made dinner reservations for each evening. Her selections were terrific, and removed the strain of group haggling.

  • Consider other important touchstones, like a private tour of a famous museum or a fishing trip. Poll the attendees in advance -- and get credit card numbers -- from all who sign up.


    Don't assume people will know how to fill their "off'' hours. You need to help them.

  • Local musts. Write up a brief overview of the destination's attractions (or ask someone else in the group to do so.) Include relavant websites and names of guidebooks, so it's not all up to you.

  • Visiting multiple locations, like cruise ports? Assign one port to each couple, making them responsible for finding good websites and bringing a guidebook for their port.


    Set a ground rule: It's OK to go off on your own, even at a reunion. Make it a ground rule from the start, and you'll avoid hurt feelings when Suzy and Ana go shopping while Cindy says by the pool.


Make up a cheat sheet with cell numbers, room or cabin numbers and any other contact information for the group. And remind everyone to keep their phones turned on.


  • Set up an itinerary in advance.
  • Schedule in only dinners and major mile stones; leave the rest of the time open.
  • Ask someone familiar with the destination to pick the dinner restaurants and make reservations.
  • Going to multiple locations? Divvy them up.


    Bring extra copies of the itinerary, plus a guidebook and printouts of the most important web pages. Not even professional travel journalists remember to bring these with them.


    PHOTO: Wooldridge siblings at a recent reunion.
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