A few months ago I came up with the bright idea to take a trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico with some of my closest friends for my 30th birthday. The idea came from my favorite Bravo summer series:
Invite Only Cabo. Invite Only Cabo
is a reality show which detailed a group vacation planned by celebrity hairstylist Larry Sims. Sims traveled to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with six of his closest friends who had never met. The show prepared me for what was to come, or so I thought.

Here are four things I learned after planning my first group trip:

1)  Everyone who RSVPs will not actually attend


There will be people who confirm right away, while others will give you strong maybes. In addition to those confirmations, there will be people who do not respond at all or decide within weeks of the trip that they will not attend. Whether you have ten RSVPs or two, do not take it personally. People have the right to accept or decline your invitation. Whatever happens, it will not be the end of the world. Thankfully for me, most people who RSVP’d actually attended. Those who did not attend had prior commitments, and I did not take it personally.

2)  Weather is unpredictable

You can pick the hotel, the activities, and the restaurants, but unfortunately, you cannot choose the weather. For example, if you’re traveling to the Caribbean during hurricane season (June 1 - November 30) expect the unexpected.

Days before my friends and I were scheduled to fly to Puerto Rico, my weather app had assured me that there would be nothing but sunny skies. Hurricane Irma had skirted Puerto Rico a week prior, so I was certain that things would be just fine. Little did I know, Hurricane Maria was brewing east of the Caribbean and planning to make landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20th.  My friends and I were scheduled to be in Puerto Rico from September 16- 20, but due to the unexpected hurricane, we had to head out a day earlier. Thank God for Southwest Airlines!

3)   Just because the trip is your idea, does not mean you’re the boss

You may have selected the destination, the hotel, and the dates, but that does not mean you are the captain of the vacation ship. The best part of vacationing with friends are the memories that you will share for a lifetime. Remember that your friends are taking time off work to travel with you, so just because you want to go on an underwater excursion does not mean they do too. If there is something you really want to do on vacation do it, even if no one else wants to.

What worked so well during my trip to Puerto Rico, was that everybody did what they wanted. On some days, groups of people went exploring, while others went to the beach. No one felt left out, which made the experience more enjoyable.

Confession time.....in hindsight, I have to admit that I was somewhat bossy in the early stages of planning. The Virgo in me wanted the trip to be perfect, so when I asserted myself it sometimes came across wrong. Thank God for friends who put me in my place. After a quick come to Jesus meeting, all was well.

4)   More is not always merrier


The sad but hard truth is that everybody is not meant to share your vacation splendor. Sure you may have shared great laughs in the states with friends, but that does not mean you should travel thousands of miles away with them. Considering how stressful travel can be in general, it is best to sometimes keep it simple. Travel can ruin already fractured relationships. Rather than test the boughs, it is sometimes best not to take that chance with friendships that may be in weird phases.

Of course, you save money when you travel with more people, but cheap does not always equal quality. Fortunately, with the exception of few plus ones, the group was pretty solid in Puerto Rico. Everyone got along great and was able to make it out of Puerto Rico before Hurricane Maria actually hit.

All in all, my friends and I had a great time. Sure the inclement weather shortened our trip, but my 30th birthday ended up being one for the books.

A word of advice, travel should be fun. When you are planning a group trip invite the people who would be the most fun to be around for an extended amount of time. Remember, some things you can control and others you just cannot. Lastly, there is no need to stress the small stuff; pick a destination, send out the invites, and see where the chips fall.

If all else fails, join the Black Travel Movement Group on Facebook for solo travel ideas.