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Hitting the Open Road: Group Travel and Road Trips

By February 28, 2016October 18th, 20172 Comments

A roadway in Yellowstone during a group road trip.

With any road trip, there is a lot of planning involved. While the details don’t always need to be 100% in place, you do need a rough idea of what route you’ll take, where you’ll stop to play and where you’ll sleep. But beyond the logistics and the excitement of traveling, group road trips offer a bonding experience like no other.

A group road trip through Portland

You’ll spend so much time together

If you’re traveling by air, you’re sure to spend some time together on a plane, but once you reach your destination, you’re likely to spend less time traveling from place to place. When you’re roadtripping it, you’re going to be spending a lot of time together. While you might end up driving each other crazy, you can also have a ton of fun on the journey.

When I’m on a road trip with a group, I burn a lot of mix CDs (yes, I still use them!) and I try to tailor them to the trip. Whether it’s by destination or just the atmosphere, it’s easy to make your music sync with your vacation. Another great way to pass the time is car games. Whether it’s 20 Questions, I Spy or the license plate game, these silly games can be pretty funny when you’re in a big group. Or just sit back and enjoy the scenery and the conversation.

Group travel on the way through Seattle

Decide who is going to do what ahead of time…but stay flexible

While you’re doing your planning, it’s always best to have a general idea of how everything is going to happen. Decide a few things in advance, like what system you will use to determine who drives when, how long they drive and how often you’d like to stop for bathroom breaks, gas or snacks. Of course, things don’t always go to plan so don’t think of it as strict guidelines; if someone can drive longer or starts feeling tired and wants someone else to take over, that’s okay. But having an idea of how things are going to work ahead of time will make everything run a little smoother.

You can think about other things in advance too, like who will control the radio, who’s going to sit closest to the snacks (and hand them out) and where everyone is going to sit. If you’re traveling with a large group in a convoy, you’ll need to consider even more. Will you follow one another or each have your own directions, just in case? Will you try to stay together or stick to your own pace and meet at the finish line? It all depends on you and your group so ask around and try to get everyone on the same page before you start your trip.

Driving through the Grand Teton area on a group road trip

Consider your budget

When it comes to group travel, it’s always important to consider your budget ahead of time. If you’re splitting things like gas or food, you need to make sure that everyone’s on the same page so no one feels like they’re spending more money than they intended.

Also, it’s difficult to try to split payments or pull your cash together so try to keep a system. Each person can pay for different things but if you all keep track of your spending, you can add it up and even it out later. When I travel in a group—especially on road trips—I use the money-transferring app Venmo to either pay or receive money once we’ve calculated the costs.

Group travel road trips through San Francisco

Discuss what you’re packing and bring items to share

Group travel means many people, but it also means many suitcases. Because you have to try to (comfortably?) fit everyone and their belongings in your car(s), you want everything as condensed as possible. One idea is to bring a suitcase full of share items. How much shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and body wash can you use on one trip? Depending on how many people are in your party and how long you’ll be gone, grab enough for everyone but avoid having each person pack their own. You can also do this with things like sunscreen, face wash, lotion and tissues as well as emergency items like Band-Aids, disinfecting wipes or ibuprofen.

Stopped overnight at a cabin on a road trip in Custer, South Dakota

Ask everyone’s opinion

When you’re deciding which cities to stop in, which museums to visit or which outdoor activities to do, make sure to get everyone’s opinion. Each person should have a say in your itinerary so that you can make sure everyone has a good time. With large groups, you’re likely to have different interests and skill levels so that’s something to take into consideration before deciding your every move.

Roadtripping in the Grand Tetons with a group

Overall, roadtripping is a great way to experience group travel. You get to spend a whole lot of down time together so you definitely have a chance to bond and get to know each other better. On top of that, you’ll create even more memories just sitting in a car for a few hours. When you travel by plane, it’s harder to enjoy that benefit. Sure, cars can get cramped and you might get tired of sitting for so long, but the experience makes it all worth it in the end.

Ashley Ryan

Author Ashley Ryan

Ashley Ryan is a southern California native with a background in journalism and anthropology. She loves learning about other cultures and combines her passions for traveling, writing and photography in her professional work. To learn more or get in touch, visit

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