Elton's Guide to Group Trips

St. Maarten, 2015. Celebrating the 30th Birthday of my good friend James Bland.  Have you ever wondered how I plan these ridiculous group trips? How I get so many people to go? How I choose the locations? How we choose what to wear? Well I am finally answering all your questions on this post!

St. Maarten, 2015. Celebrating the 30th Birthday of my good friend James Bland

Have you ever wondered how I plan these ridiculous group trips? How I get so many people to go? How I choose the locations? How we choose what to wear? Well I am finally answering all your questions on this post!

How do you find so many people to go, I can't even get 3 of my friends to go to Cheesecake Factory with me?

In short, I bribe them (j/k). The people on these trips are truly and authentically my friends. I've known some of them my entire life and others I've met through college, work and even social media. Outside of the trips, I talk to a lot of them daily. I'm just a people person and extrovert so I have a lot of friends and I love connecting people so, voila!

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. 2017. My friend group celebrated New Years in a dope villa.  My squad is composed of quite a few Africans. We are representing Liberia, Nigeria and Uganda in this pic!

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. 2017. My friend group celebrated New Years in a dope villa. 

My squad is composed of quite a few Africans. We are representing Liberia, Nigeria and Uganda in this pic!

So the people who got on your trips are all extroverts and works for themselves, huh?

Not at all! Some of my closest and dearest friends are full-blown introverts who work 9-5 jobs. They still find time to come on these trips because there is always good energy and they usually leave with a new friend or two. The trips are typically 30% introverts and 50% of people with 9-5 jobs.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2016. The Parque Lage is one of my favorite places in Rio so of course I wanted my 34th Birthday portrait here. 

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2016.

The Parque Lage is one of my favorite places in Rio so of course I wanted my 34th Birthday portrait here. 

So where do y'all get these clothes? How do you choose the outfits?

The looks are usually inspired by photoshoots and Campaigns that I come across in magazines and on the internet. It all started in 2015 when I wanted to go camping for my birthday. With so many people going I thought it would be cool to recreate a Ralph Lauren campaign that I had always loved. My best friend, Apuje, happens to be a stylist and helped me put together a "style guide". The style guides give a general clothing direction and color palette and each year my friends just step up to the plate! I am not a fashion guy at ALL so these trips are a great chance for me to play dress up.

Sequoia National Park, 2015. This is where it all started! I wanted to go camping for my 33rd birthday and the photo shoot was inspired by a Ralph Lauren campaign. 

Sequoia National Park, 2015.

This is where it all started! I wanted to go camping for my 33rd birthday and the photo shoot was inspired by a Ralph Lauren campaign. 

So who the hell takes the picture if you're in the picture?

Great question! Typically just a stranger that happens to be walking by. There is a lot of creative direction that goes into these images including style guides, location scouting and setting up the portrait. After all that is done, I can usually find someone who is excited to snap our picture. After a quick photography lesson, I frame the picture for them and they snap away!

Ipanema Beach, 2016. We were feeling blackity-black in Brazil. ✊🏿#MOOD

Ipanema Beach, 2016.

We were feeling blackity-black in Brazil. ✊🏿#MOOD

How do you decide where to go?

We typically follow the flight deals to places that look interesting. Our flights to Brazil were $530 round-trip and Morocco was only $458 😳. My friend Jessica has a knack for finding cheap travel, so when she finds something good we go!

Chefchaouen, Morocco, 2017. We walked the mean streets of "The Blue City" for my 35th birthday.

Chefchaouen, Morocco, 2017.

We walked the mean streets of "The Blue City" for my 35th birthday.

Marrakech, Morocco. 2017. I LOVE connecting people. A few of these ladies didn't know each other before the trip but left as friends. 

Marrakech, Morocco. 2017.

I LOVE connecting people. A few of these ladies didn't know each other before the trip but left as friends. 

Let's get to the brass tacks... how much does this cost?

The trips are pretty affordable in my opinion. We rarely stay in hotels because Airbnb's are so much cheaper with a big group. I try to keep lodging between $40-75 per person per night. If breakfast is not included we usually just go grocery shopping and make a huge family style breakfast ourselves. We also save a few dollars on excursions because our group is so big. When you have 20+ people to negotiate for you can typically find a deal. To put it in perspective, the camping trip was $275 per person, our 8-day Morocco trip was $800 per person and Brazil was about $700 per person. These prices don't include flights but they do include a few meals and excursions. 

Salvador de Bahia, 2016.  Many slaves were auctioned in this square. We stand strong and proud in rememberance. 

Salvador de Bahia, 2016. 

Many slaves were auctioned in this square. We stand strong and proud in rememberance. 

How can I be down with your crew! I want to travel too!

I get this a lot and with all due respect I would love to bring the world with me but its a LOT to plan. I've had to place limits on these trips because I could easily be planning for 100+ people. I recommend seeing the world with your friends and family or join one of the many travel tribes!

Salvador de Bahia, 2016. Just another casual convo amongst friends.

Salvador de Bahia, 2016.

Just another casual convo amongst friends.

What are some best practices when planning a group trip?

I turn into a huge nerd when it comes to planning my birthday trips! My first tool is an excel spreadsheet to help calculate costs, room assignments and budgets. Trip Advisor also comes in very handy to get a better idea of recommended activities and places to stay. Evernote helps me stay super organized and I can email big notes to my crew. Payment plans via Venmo or Paypal work great to gauge commitment and give people time to pay. 

Marrakech, Morocco, 2017. A monochromatic look from this year's birthday trip. 

Marrakech, Morocco, 2017.

A monochromatic look from this year's birthday trip. 

Wherever your travels take you make sure you go in good company. Energy will make or break a trip so choose your circle wisely! Check out more pics below!