Planning a bachelorette party overseas needs to come with a lot of flexibility. Whether the bride’s an outdoor adventurer, a wine connoisseur, or prefers those lazy cocktails on the beach, there’s an itinerary for it. Despite the varied options, however, there are foundational principles that apply to any girls trip overseas. From choosing the destination to implementing the organizational systems required for group travel, this practical guide provides the key tips to planning an overseas bachelorette party successfully — without the whole bridal party hating you.
Choosing the destination
The choice of destination will come down to group interest, and the practicality of where the group can go within the time available, but when making the choice there are important factors to consider.
Determine the budget.
Everyone has different ideas about what’s affordable, and because this will determine the boundaries in which the trip can be planned, it’s important to establish the budget from the outset. You don’t want to put anyone in an uncomfortable situation where they’ll resent spending the money or won’t be able to come at all. And if people can’t come on the trip due to finances or obligations at work or home — please don’t blacklist them from the wedding. Destination bachelorette parties are a lot to ask from everyone, and you should try to be understanding if people can’t swing it.
Tip: Rather than put people on the spot by asking if they can afford something, float a few ideas with the group — a weekend away versus five days, staying in a joint Airbnb versus a resort, all-inclusive versus self-catering, activities to include like hiking or shows, etc. The discussion will naturally gravitate to an option most are happy with.
Consider the culture.
Bachelorette parties are often characterized by wild dares and a surprising array of items made to resemble body parts, but those phallic-shaped straws can’t be taken everywhere. Ideals of modesty and discretion differ across cultures, and some cultures don’t drink or serve alcohol. The only thing “wild” about staging that kind of party in a conservative culture is that it would be wildly inappropriate. Additionally, in some places, it could spell trouble with local authorities.
Tip: The wild bachelorette is not for everyone; many opt for experiences more tailored to their interests. Choosing to travel is ideal for this because it opens up options. The group might be interested in fitness, in which case a yoga retreat or hiking trip could be considered, or perhaps the group is outgoing and would prefer to take on extreme activities like skydiving or parasailing. And if you do want to go crazy, well, there’s always Nashville.
This one comes down to the type of trip anticipated (i.e. a ski weekend versus an island getaway). It’s not unheard of for travelers to turn up to a destination known for its sunny days to find they’ve arrived in the rainy season. No amount of waterproof mascara can prep a bachelorette for a monsoon. While weather can’t be guaranteed, research can minimize the risk of disappointing weather.
Keeping everyone organized
Let’s not sugar coat it: Organizing a group is a tough task on any day. Throw in some overseas travel and a bachelorette party itinerary, and it becomes a bonafide challenge. This is not a deterrent; on the contrary, establishing ground rules, implementing effective organizational systems, and preparing for potential obstacles will be the key to success.
Leave no room for confusion; put everything in writing.
Everyone has agreed upon the dates and destination; now, the planning begins. Clear communication from the outset is paramount. In a central place that everyone can access — whether it’s a Facebook group, a WhatsApp group message, or an email thread — put into writing the details that have been decided upon and continue using this method for ongoing communication. If anyone down the track questions the details of the plan or there is conflict over what has been discussed, people can be referred back to what is in writing.
Give tasks to people who will be good at them. This helps alleviate the workload and includes others into the planning process, giving them a sense of involvement and ownership. In might seem counterproductive to relinquish control, but people who feel invested in something have a greater interest in its success.
Have a centralized organization system.
Everyone has different organizational preferences. There’s no best way to do this; it’s just important that it’s done, especially when delegating tasks. It could be a matter of sticking to an email thread and an Excel spreadsheet or downloading one of the many (and often free) organizational apps. Apps like Timetree allow groups to share calendars, centralizing important dates and times (like who to pay by what date). Checklist apps like Any.Do allow task lists to be shared with other people. And travel apps like TripIt centralize travel plans and documents. Members can be added to the travel group — with or without the ability to edit the details — so they all have access to the same details.
With the tasks ahead there needs to be a checklist. Who will be in charge of the wine? Did someone get those gold balloons? What about the cupcakes? While these tasks are important, others are even more critical. Listed below are the tasks that need to be a priority.
- Does everyone have the necessary travel documents? (Passports, relevant visas, tickets, vouchers, travel insurance, alternative identification like a driver’s license, etc.)
- Are all documents correct?
Tip: Getting people to check that they’ve got the right dates on their bookings, that their passport is within validity, and that the name on their tickets is the same as on their passport will save potential dramas that can ruin the trip.
- Has everyone paid or at least know the payment details? (How much they need to pay, who to pay and by what deadline, the methods of payment available to them, and what happens if they don’t pay on time)
- Is everyone aware of the terms and conditions of the booking?
Tip: Some bookings are non-refundable, incur fees to change, or might have local costs that people sometimes overlook. If a centralized booking is being made on behalf of the group, ensure people know what they’re agreeing to in order to avoid misunderstandings down the line should people have to change or cancel due to unforeseen circumstances.
- Does everyone have the details of the itinerary? (Where to be, on what day/s, by what time, items to bring if necessary, dress codes, etc.)
- Does everyone have comprehensive travel insurance?
- Does everyone have a method of communication once at the destination?
Tip: Some people’s SIMs won’t work overseas. Apps like WhatsApp and Facebook messenger allow people to phone one another when connected to wifi, but wifi will not always be accessible. This needs to be factored into the plan. Alternatively, everyone could pitch in for a couple of local SIMS and share these amongst the group, ensuring that people are always out with a person who has a local SIM.
- Has everyone had the necessary vaccination/medication, if applicable? (The relevant tablets for areas prone to malaria, typhoid injections, etc. See an international doctor if unsure.)
Bachelorette ideas and games: travel edition
Now, for the fun stuff. There is no shortage of bachelorette ideas swimming around the internet and plenty of ways to put a travel twist on them. To get started, here are some ideas that can provide some memorable moments unique to the overseas bachelorette.
- Learn the local marriage customs. Get talking to the locals. What are their wedding and pre-wedding customs? Can they suggest something you might be able to do while here in their country?
- Learn a skill from the locals to take back home. Take a cooking class specializing in the local cuisine or a local craft.
- Best travel bride. Have everyone randomly swap suitcases (by putting a name in a hat or sitting in a circle and giving their suitcases to the person on the right). Using the contents of their new suitcase, each person must build a bridal outfit. Vote for the best.
- Find some honeymooners. Get a photo with them and ask them for a piece of their most valuable advice regarding the wedding day.
- Find that something new. They say every bride on her wedding day should have something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. What better souvenir is there to buy on a bachelorette trip overseas?
The overseas bachelorette is a wild adventure, whether filled with hilarity and cocktails or an actual hiking adventure in the wild. Whichever direction it takes, the same sentiment applies here as it does to all travel: Whatever comes up, whatever magic or mayhem or misadventure is thrown your way, it is what you make it. Make it a memorable one.