As lovely as holidays are, they can be a right ballache to plan at the best of times. Now, factor in nine fun-loving, yet opinionated, 20- and 30-somethings and you've got yourself a potential recipe for disaster... or for a shit load of fun!
Myself and eight other friends headed just across the way to the land of Guinness, leprechauns and men with hot accents: Dublin for St Paddy's Day! What a better way to show respect to the patron saint of Ireland than in the capital city itself?
Here's how to make the best memories with your friendship group and survive a big group holiday without wanting to kill your buddies (because that would really put a downer on the holiday):
Book an AirBnb
I love staying in hotels when travelling, but you really can't beat an AirBnb for a group holiday. For a start, the cost of an AirBnb is likely to come in cheaper than a hotel room when divided between each person, but is way more luxurious than a hostel dorm.
You'll have the whole place to your group, so needn't worry about waking up in time for the served breakfast (or about what constitutes as a 'continental breakfast'), nor being too loud late into the night. Even better, if you wake before everyone else, there is a communal living room you can head to, rather than lying quietly in bed, trying - and failing - to use your phone on the dimmest light setting.
Accept that problems will occur
A holiday is not a military operation; the holiday plans won't run smoothly, no matter how intricately you've planned. We had a fairly successful approach that involved one of the most organised of our friendship group doing the majority of planning (thank you!!) while asking us to vote on specific things and also delegating tasks some tasks, such as trains to and from the airport, and tourist activities.
As smooth as this operation was, a few things easily threw the plans, for example, me being unable to fly on the same day as everyone else. I'm pretty sure this annoyed my friend a little, but it was unavoidable and she was absolutely fine about it once we were all there. Accept some elements will be beyond your control, especially as you are dealing with a group of independent adults and find the solution between you.
Do what you want to do...
... within reason! Now, I'm not saying be a selfish cow, but do recognise that you're in a different place and need to make the most of it. Also, remember IT IS OKAY TO DO THINGS SEPARATELY. Out of our group of nine, just three of us went on the sightseeing bus tour of Dublin. You will still create amazing memories this way; I will never forget sitting on the cold March pavement outside Croke Park, eating a takeaway fry up like chavs, while joking around with my friends. Word of warning, the Croke Park stop on the Citysightseeing Bus Tour is just within the grounds. We took blaaady ages to find it.
After a cool whistle-stop tour of the city, your ticket will also get you a free Guinness in an authentic Irish pub. The pub had a great vibe and we then headed to another underground bar with live music. SO GOOD! I even got to see the pretty Ha'penny Bridge I had read about.
...But also come together once a day!
Our whole group ensured we spent some time together each day. We were usually brought together by alcohol and we had some great nights out over the long weekend. St Patrick's Day was spent in the infamous Temple Bar area and there was such a good atmosphere. Everyone was friendly, the drinks were good and the music made you feel as if you were part of the Irish community.
In keeping with the alcohol theme, we all headed to the Guinness Factory on the 18th March (the day after St Paddy's Day). Hmmm, perhaps we should have foreseen the huge amounts of tourists who'd had the same idea as us... However, the factory put on some great entertainment while we were in the queue: there were circus acts, tap dancers and even a face painter. I'm sure we were in the queue for over an hour, but it FLEW by.
The staff were just as friendly and accommodating in the factory itself. The tickets included a free pint of Guinness, which I didn't love, so the barman happily offered me a Guinness Prosecco mix, free of charge. The bar area also had a dance show on, where they taught punters a specific dance and they performed to the room. Honestly, this place is far more than a museum and highly recommended.
Step back and enjoy each other's company
Work and life usually get in the way of spending extended quality time spent with your friends. A group holiday is the perfect place to enjoy each other's company, free from time restraints. As mentioned earlier, AirBnb's are perfect for bonding, laughter and great memories (lol, super cheesy). We played Cards Against Humanity, Twister, and other games, for hours on end and it was flipping fantastic.
Of course, there will always be little things that will gripe you when on holiday with a large group, but the great memories farrrr outweigh these little grumbles.