Organising a bachelor or bachelorette party might seem like a breeze compared to wedding planning, but there’s plenty to keep best men and maids of honor busy when it comes to logistics, particularly if you’re taking the celebrations – and a gaggle of expectant guests – to a foreign country.
Ensure the bride or groom has an unforgettable trip and avoid common pitfalls with these tips for planning a bachelor or bachelorette party abroad.
1. To surprise, or not to surprise?
Some brides and grooms want oversight of every element, while others relish the idea of relinquishing all responsibility. If you’re arranging a trip abroad without the bachelor or bachelorette's knowledge, you’ll need to conspire with their partner or family to ensure their passport is valid, insurance is up to date, and appropriate bags are packed for the big reveal. Keeping plans under wraps can be an extra burden – there’s always a chance someone could let slip – but if the man or woman of the moment loves surprises (and travel!) you’ll earn mega friendship points.
2. Consider the guest list
The smaller the group, the easier trip planning will be – but unless you’re arranging your own party, that’s out of your hands. Whether invites extend to an entourage of BFFs or a motley crew of distant cousins, family friends, and colleagues, it’s your job to confirm numbers, create a suitable itinerary and wrangle attendees from A to B. If you don’t already know the guests, consult with the bride or groom to better understand the personalities you’ll be dealing with. Age is just a number, but if elders (particularly soon-to-be in-laws) are involved, they might want to opt out of certain shenanigans – and ideally the trip would allow for that.
3. Plan in advance
Coordinating calendars as a group can be a nightmare – especially if you’re going to be travelling during spring/summer, aka ‘wedding season’ – so it pays to find a date as far in advance as possible. Find the sweet spot using scheduling apps such as Doodle or WhenAvailable, then urge everyone to keep note of the dates so they don’t get double booked. This way you’ll also be able to take advantage of early-bird deals, and are likely to have a better choice of accommodation.
4. Get finances in order
It’s essential to be up front about money as soon as possible. The cost of traveling abroad for a bachelor or bachelorette party is the biggest barrier to entry for most people, and chances are you’ll get some dropouts. Scour the web or work with a travel agent to find the best group discounts, and factor in a combination of free activities and optional extras.
To avoid last-minute cancellations, provide all guests with a realistic outline of estimated costs from the outset – it’s better to overestimate than to surprise them with additional costs later on. Asking guests to cough up an extra $250 once they’ve paid for a hotel and flights is a recipe for severe tension.
‘The boys had arranged a party bus to transfer us from the airport to our hotel in Budapest – but had failed to bring enough cash to pay the – ahem – entertainment. We had to pull over at an ATM, which wasn’t ideal for anyone involved.’ – Tom, regular bachelor party attendee and newly-wed.
5. Communicate like a pro
How you share information with the group can make or break a trip. Drip feeding unconfirmed details or bombarding people with choices can result in lengthy WhatsApp debates (which no one has time for) and frustration. If you need help, ask another member of the group who has experience of these types of trips to help you make decisions and only message everyone with clear info and key updates. Remind people of the basics – departure date, flight times, itinerary – periodically too, so no one forgets!
6. Choose the right accommodation
If you’re going to be out from dawn until dusk (or 4am…) then accommodation might not be your top priority – but don’t book the cheapest hostel you can find without considering other options. House or villa rentals can be vastly superior and surprisingly budget friendly, and even the most chilled guests will appreciate a clean bathroom and a comfy bed. If your plans are more low-key, decent digs can double as a spot to host a movie night, pampering session or butler in the buff…
‘My maid of honor had planned a morning of standup paddleboarding in Mallorca, but when it rained, I was so glad we were staying in a villa, where we could execute Plan B: afternoon tea and massages.’ – Jess, whose Balearic Island wedding was sunny after all.
Crafting an itinerary that suits a diverse group is tricky, and overpacking the schedule is an easy mistake to make. A good rule of thumb is to plan one significant activity per day (eg a bike tour or spa treatment), one main meal and the evening’s entertainment. Allow plenty of time around each of the scheduled activities (for resting, sprucing up and other necessities), and have extra ideas up your sleeve for impromptu excursions. If you’re going somewhere renowned for sunshine, don’t be a fairweather friend: a backup plan in case of bad weather is always a wise move.
‘Bachelorette parties can be too much. The last one I went on in Amsterdam involved a long day sightseeing followed by a dance class before dinner and a club. We only had half an hour for 10 girls to get ready and out of the door in between. It was never going to happen’ – Beth, stressed-out bachelorette.
8. Get cultural
You can have a debaucherous night out almost anywhere – so be sure to incorporate a little local culture into the trip. We’re not talking about a sobering morning at the museum (unless that’s your thing) – but how about a guided tasting of local tipples, a cooking class or private walking tour to see the key sights? These activities can also help bond the group and help you get your bearings before the evening antics commence.
9. Fun and games
Most classic bachelor or bachelorette party games are doable anywhere, but why not try something different? Have a go at destination bingo, where you come up with a list of location-specific tasks that attendees compete to finish first. For example, in Paris the list might include: drinking absinthe, spotting the Eiffel Tower, and taking a selfie with a moustachioed Frenchman... let light-hearted cultural references be your guide. Bachelor or bachelorette party package providers often run GPS-based treasure hunts for city breaks if you’d prefer a tried and tested team-building session.
Want to give the bride or groom a souvenir of their send-off? No, we’re not talking matching tattoos… Ask all guests to take photos during the trip and add them to a shared drive. Everyone can then look back with smiles – or shudders of regret – and you can create a memento book to present to your soon-to-be-wed BFF.