Planning an outdoors trip with friends doesn't have to be hard. You can plan a trip that is perfect for everyone and has you saying "man that was the best trip ever!"
Here are some steps to follow when planning a trip!
Step 1: Central location with various offerings The best spots are usually within two or three hours drive for everyone. Look into places that have things for everyone to either do together or on their own. Allowing for alone time can make for a better trip.
Step 2: Food Decide ahead of time if you will do meals on your own or together. You don’t have to do every meal as a group. You might choose just to have dinners together or to share a few specific meals on certain days. When camping with friends, we always make homemade donut holes one morning. Other times, one family provides the entree and everyone else brings a side. Planning ahead and taking on individual responsibilities makes it fun and easy for everyone. No one gets stuck with all the work, and everyone has a chance to offer something special.
Step 3: Discuss beverages Determine in advance if you will share drinks or if everyone is to be independent. There is nothing worse than that “one” resented friend who is always in your cooler grabbing beer. If you generously say “we have enough,” inevitably there will be one person that oversteps that boundary and drinks all your beer or finishes off your fifth. It can help if you keep your cooler back at your camper or your fifth close by. The less accessible the booze, the less apt you are to have freebie hunters.
Step 4: Toys Many campgrounds either have a lake nearby or a place to ride ATVs and UTVs. As we don’t have a boat or a UTV, we hang with friends that do. In turn, we provide the camper for friends to stay with us. It really balances out. When deciding on places to go, pay attention to the amenities and make sure people can bring appropriate, fun toys.
Step 5: Schedule, what schedule? Being without children, I have learned from those with kids that expecting everyone to strictly adhere to a preset schedule is a recipe for failure. Early on, I would plan times to be on the water or to have lunch but these plans often fell through. Others needed to accommodate kids’ schedules, so I have since found that saying things like “we usually get on the water in the morning around 10 am,” gives people a general time to be up and rolling if they want to participate. Suggesting a plan instead of expecting a command performance does not impose pressure on some nor keep others from going forward. If some people don’t want to participate, then no worries; catch them later. Flexibility is essential!
Step 6: Relax This can be a hard one, especially for Type-A women like me, but I have slowly over time become the one who just sits back and lets whatever happens, happen. I give up control and accept whatever flows for that day. I don’t get uptight if someone doesn’t want to eat the food I made, get on the water with us or go to bed early. We are all there to relax, and people should feel free to do that in whatever way works for them. It is not my weekend to plan...It is our weekend. Letting go is hard but worth it.
Some other things to consider... Guys tend to get more confidence when they are drinking together, so make sure someone supervises. The same can be said for women. We make sure to have one person who is not drinking or is drinking significantly less.
An outdoor projector and a big white sheet works wonders for keeping kids entertained outside for hours. We have done movie nights for kids for years, and they still love it. You can find a projector on Amazon for relatively cheap and any white sheet will do. It is okay to go home early. There have been times when a friend has just had enough of the heat or needs a break. That’s okay! Let others know it is fine if they want to cut out; don’t make them feel guilty. Similarly, don’t get hurt by their decisions. Let them do what is best for them.
Always bring extra napkins and trash bags. Seriously, you will need them.
Enjoy your time with your friends! The whole point of the trip is to do something together. Make it a point to sit back and truly enjoy the time.