Follow the yellow brick road! And take Munchkinland with you.
March 18, 2010 10:30 AM   Subscribe

18 People traveling together! How do we arrange this without going crazy?

Yes, I have asked a similar question before on finding flights for me and two kids here (Follow the Yellow Brick Road). But now I'm dealing with eighteen bodies. Kayak and the other sites top out at 4 or 6 adults/tickets.

My Great-Grandmother's 100th birthday is Dec. 26th, 2010. My Mom said last night that we will all go. So now transportation is an issue. All together there will be 10 adults, 7 ticketed children, and 1 lapbaby (11 months at time of travel). Flights should be from ATL to SFO or OAK. Dates are flexible with the exception of the 26th. We must be there at least one night before. Then of course there is also ground transportation (Can you rent a school bus?), and hotels.

So how do we find the best prices on airfare, cars and hotels for this many people? Is there a site that deals with group travel? Are discounts available for mass bookings? I have no idea where to start looking.
posted by Talia Devane to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'd suggest a travel agent for something this big. Do they still exist?

And if it's not til December, I wouldn't buy anything just yet. Prices will go down closer to the date. Also, why can't everyone do their own planning?
posted by cooker girl at 10:35 AM on March 18, 2010

I came to suggest a travel agent as well. My sister-in-law-to-be in trying to arrange a destination wedding for 30 people, and found that there are travel agents that specialize in just this thing (weddings, but more importantly, large group travel).
posted by cgg at 10:37 AM on March 18, 2010

Travel agent sounds like a very good idea.

Otherwise... Yes, hotels will give discounts for block bookings. Call around a few to find a good deal. Also, the hotel should NOT require you to pay up front - or at least, not until much nearer the date. This means that you can get everyone to settle up their own bill.

A simple way to do it would be to book everything for your own part of the family, and then tell everyone else: This is the flight we'll be getting, here is the address of a hotel with a block booking in the name of Devane, we plan on being at Great-Grandmother's at this time.

If you do end up booking everything yourself (through a travel agent or otherwise), get people to pay you before you outlay any money. You don't want a great family argument after someone misunderstands the price, or cancels at the last minute because some emergency means they can't afford the bill.
posted by emilyw at 10:48 AM on March 18, 2010

Yes, you can rent buses.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:50 AM on March 18, 2010

Response by poster: While each branch will be paying mostly for their own members, we would like to travel as a group for logistic and childcare reasons.

And cause Mom said so.

Of the eighteen quoted above, that is a worst(best) case scenario. There is one who should be a retail manager by that time and therefore unable to go. And another one (a rebound relationship) that I hope won't be in the picture then. Which leaves one child per adult. If I give my oldest son (8.5 years then), who is also the oldest grandchild, to my Dad as the least capable adult, the rest of us can the hold on to the younger boys. Did I mention that all eight kids are boys?

How do you find a reputable travel agent?
posted by Talia Devane at 11:22 AM on March 18, 2010

Most airlines have a group booking phone number you can call to book.
posted by dripdripdrop at 11:41 AM on March 18, 2010

And cause Mom said so.

Got it!

Re: reputable travel agent: ask around, check Angie's list.
posted by cooker girl at 11:55 AM on March 18, 2010

If you or anyone in the group are AAA members, they have travel booking services.

A few thoughts on the group travel: unless the group is set on moving as a joined mass, it may be easier to treat the group as a few sub-groups. Book the flights together on Kayak or wherever at the same time, talking to the other groups to make sure you're on the same flight (I've done this, and it's not too onerous). Sitting together in a huge group may sound like a good idea, but you may enjoy a bit of separation for the duration of the flight.

The same could be said for a single bus for the group. Also, finding parking for a huge van is hard enough (sticking out in parking lots, wedging them into parallel spots), but trying to maneuver and park a mini-bus will be worse (if you can, as they might require a special license for a larger vehicle). I'd suggest sticking with a few large vans, as you can then swap people in between groups, giving the kids time apart or together, however that works. Then you can all be together at your destinations.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:56 PM on March 18, 2010

Just a head's up, it's going to be crazy expensive because you're travelling around Christmas and New Years. Expect to pay at least 150% of the normal, off-season fares.

The cheapest day to fly out will be on Christmas Day, but that doesn't leave a lot of slack in the schedule for error. Do not take ANY flight that connects in Chicago during this time of the year.
posted by hwyengr at 1:36 PM on March 18, 2010

hwyengr- or the east coast, as we learned recently.

I wouldn't think a bus would be a good idea. A few vehicles adds flexibility, even if someone needs to go out for milk for a few hours.
posted by gjc at 6:21 PM on March 18, 2010

My family reunions typically involved about 10 out-of-country relatives and 3-5 in-country relatives arriving at my family home. My dad would rent a 15-passenger van, and between that and our family cars, we had enough space for everybody to go out in 2 vehicles, or more frequently everybody who wanted to go out would fit in the van. 2 vehicles also meant the ability to run quick errands, all go out but send the kids home early, let my grandma nap and meet us someplace later, etc. As filthy light thief said about the parking, maybe two 8/10-passenger vehicles, or a 12 and a 7, would work better for you as rentals.

Hotel-wise, I don't know what your plans at your destination are, whether you're a "grandma is cooking nonstop", or a "it's a party, we're all going out all the time" kind of family, or if you're taking it as it goes; but in my experience, Extended Stay America or other places offering suites and kitchenettes were perfect for our family, both at reunions and when we'd get together for weddings, etc. Each family-unit gets a suite that holds 4-8 people; typically one living area got designated "hanging out space" with more snack food, and another aunt loved hosting breakfasts. Hotels love booking groups, and if you tell them it's a family reunion, they may even give you a "group rate" like weddings get.
posted by aimedwander at 7:00 AM on March 19, 2010

« Older Ask Metafilter #2?   |   What are some cool judicial tests? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.