Travel is more fun if you can share the experiences with your loved ones. On the other hand, planning a trip with a group can be stressful, given the different logistics, opinions, requirements, and interests. These travel planning apps for groups try to make it easier to come up with an itinerary that all your friends can contribute to and feel happy with.
Each of the apps approaches the problem of group travel planning in different ways. So you’ll need to keep in mind which one your group is bound to feel most comfortable with.
All the apps in this list are free or have a free tier that has enough features to make you feel like using it for an upcoming trip.
1. Hoku (Android, iOS): Super Simple Group Travel Planning App
If your group isn’t too tech-savvy, they’re going to be overwhelmed with some of the apps in this list. Simplicity, or the lack of extraneous features, is sometimes the best way to get people to participate in such apps. Hoku keeps it as simple and easy as possible, giving you the ability to make your trip with friends and chat about it.
As the creator, you can give a trip name, add the city or place you’ll be visiting, pick start and end dates, and invite co-travelers via email. In the trip, you can add multiple activities. When you open the activity pane, you’ll see popular tourist attractions from the chosen location. Tap any to add them to your itinerary while also choosing a date. The activities are then arranged chronologically in the main tab.
All participants in that Hoku group can use the Hoku chat to talk about the plans. A dedicated chat space for the trip is a nice way to keep away clutter from your regular group chat on IM. Once the trip is ready, you can also export it as a document and send it via email.
2. MiTravel (Web): Travel Planning Board for Groups to Collaborate
Trello or other kanban boards to plan your tasks help you visualize everything you have to do about a project. MiTravel uses that system to make a travel planning board, where you collaborate with others to add various items for your shared trip and even conduct polls to reach decisions quickly. Best of all? It’s completely free with no hidden costs.
When planning a new trip, you’ll have to first add the location (country, region, or city) and trip dates. Then, invite any co-travelers to your planning board. By default, each trip has a few columns set up: Transit, Stays, Notes, Attractions, and Foods. You can add a card to any of these and give it a header color to indicate what it’s about. Each card has a simple text box, but you can also add attachments for things like your flight tickets or hotel bookings.
The Explore tab lets you search for and add places you intend to visit. You can save any attraction to your board, adding the group it belongs to. Cards can be moved around between groups easily.
When you’re traveling as a group, there are several decisions you need to make together. MiTravel offers a simple poll maker to get everyone’s opinion on an issue, which is visible to all participants.
3. Troupe (Web, iOS): Planning, Polling, Voting, and Shared Itinerary for Group Travel
Troupe is one of the most robust apps made for planning a trip as a group. It includes a host of features that aim to solve the problems that every group has experienced in the planning stage of a trip. Once your invitees join, they can choose to be marked as “interested” or “going” so that you can differentiate between the certainties and the maybes.
Your Troupe dashboard has different sections to make trip planning easier:
- Polls: Create a poll about any decision related to the trip, with multiple choices, and let travelers vote.
- Dates: Add your travel dates and any notes related to them.
- Destinations: Select one or multiple destinations and align them to the overall travel dates.
- Stays: Add accommodation directly, or add multiple options that your travelers can vote on. Whether voting is allowed or not is up to you.
- Activities: Like Stays, add multiple activities by searching on Google Maps, adding direct links, or writing custom plans. Choose whether participants get to vote or not.
- Itinerary: Create a custom itinerary for the trip based on the dates, destinations, stays, and activities that you have decided on.
- Notes: Add any additional information about the trip that anyone might need to know.
Troupe also allows anyone to send a “Broadcast” message that can reach all participants. It’s great to use for things other than reminders or deadlines, both of which are options you can set for voting or polling in Troupe.
Download: Troupe for iOS (Free)
4. Plan Harmony (Web): Calendar Planning and Budget Tracking for Group Trips
Plan Harmony lets you create multiple trips to invite friends to by simply sharing a link, after which you can collaborate to plan it. Once you’ve set the dates of travel, the default view shows a calendar, so you are planning as if in a shared Google Calendar.
Anyone can add an event or an idea to this calendar, where the basic difference is that an event is something you have all agreed upon, while an idea is something you will vote upon. Under the event or idea title, you’ll have to choose a category such as flight, accommodation, attraction, food/restaurant, etc. Each category has different prompts for the details you add to the event, such as flight number, car type or confirmation code, locations and links, and so on. You can also add notes and descriptions, give it a custom color, set its date and time, and finally add what it’s going to cost.
Cost tracking is a major part of group travel, and Plan Harmony seeks to make it easier by letting you add costs for each event and specifying whether it’s the group cost that’s to be evenly split or the per-person cost. In the Budget dashboard, you’ll see a breakdown of all these expenses and a per-person analysis of what you’re spending on the trip.
With Plan Harmony’s paid pro version, you get more robust budget tools such as exporting them to a spreadsheet, multiple costs for different people, etc. It also unlocks other features such as syncing with a calendar app of your choice and adding unlimited checklists or attachments to events.
5. Mobili (Android, iOS): Best Mobile App for Group Travel Planning
If you prefer a mobile app over a desktop, Mobili is the best option. It has all the major features of apps like Troupe and Plan Harmony in a simple interface for phones.
When you make a new trip and invite your friends, the main screen shows the itinerary. There are three broad categories: Travel, Lodging, and Activity. In each, you can add different details like departure and arrival times, booking numbers or confirmation codes, links, and images or screenshots of the bookings. Any item you add can be made private, public, or duplicated to all travelers.
The Split feature is a powerful budget tracker. You can add any expense here, noting the amount paid and what it was for, the currency, when and who paid, and which participants will be splitting this expense. Expenses can also be made private if you wish. As you keep adding, it’ll all be calculated in the Overview tab. It’s almost as good as some of the best bill-splitting apps for groups.
Mobili also has a built-in group chat to discuss your travel plans on IM. The Notes tab lets you add any pertinent things to remember. And in Compare, you can check the different details added by participants to quickly compare things like arrival and departure times.
Ask What’s Non-Negotiable, Not What’s Preferred
When making travel decisions as a group, you’ll often come to a point where there isn’t any consensus. Most apps and travel experts recommend taking a vote to figure out what common ground you can reach. However, that can still leave some people miffed. In such cases, try approaching the issue by changing the question.
Instead of voting, or perhaps before voting, ask what everyone’s non-negotiable item is. Sometimes, people don’t know what they want but are clear about what they don’t want. And with that knowledge, others can help come up with a decision or solution that satisfies the whole group.