Ultimate Guide to Planning a Team Building Retreat

team building retreat

So you’re ready to take your hard working team away for a while, or maybe you’re just planning a day trip to the local park. Regardless of how big or small your retreat is, there are a ton of awesome team building retreat ideas you can implement to strengthen the bonds between your colleagues to in-turn make working at your crazy awesome company, that much better.

Whether you’re a start-up founder or someone on your team that for some unknown reason everyone else entrusted with planning this retreat, have no fear we will lay out all the ideas and details you will need to make sure your T’s are crossed and your I’s are dotted.

So let’s dig in.

What makes a good team building retreat idea?

First thing’s first, what makes an epic retreat that your team will talk about for a lifetime?

It’s actually pretty simple, it should include:

  1. Great food & drinks
  2. Fun experiences
  3. Memorable times to get to know each other on a deeper level
  4. Some level of being organized and “on-the-ball” (itineraries are not overrated)

Now, this may sound easier said than done. I GET it. If you’re not a professional team retreat organizer like us, it can be easy to become daunted by all the logistics involved and the dozens of hours it will take to plan.

But take it slow, and plan your planning time to tackle each of the four points above to ensure not one of them is left to chance.

How to Find Great Food & Drink for a Retreat

Once you decide where your team retreat will be, begin doing good old fashioned Google searches for local food and beverage musts.

iceland food cateredThis is going to take a good chunk of your time if you plan to do it well. Pull up Google reviews, photos, and actually call the restaurants to see if they cater or can handle your group’s needs.

PRO TIP: Make sure to take a survey of your team’s eating habits. It’s going to be really awkward if you plan an epic BBQ feast only to learn that Sally from accounting is a vegan. #awkward

What makes a fun team retreat experience activity?

Fun experiences come in all shapes and sizes. The biggest tip to keep in mind is cater to your team and not your personal interests.

Getting a survey of things your team loves or fears may be a great way to cut out the white water rafting or bungee jumping altogether.

Another thing to think about while planning retreat activities is to try to be more creative than the cliche team building human chain or three-legged race.

Almost any activity can be made team friendly. One of our retreat client’s recently wanted to go fly fishing for a day in Montana. Even though fly fishing can sometimes be difficult to do as a group, we instead turned it into a mini-competition and made splitting up into groups more exciting for everyone.

Build in down-time for chats & beers

remote team retreatYes, build in free time where your team can just sit around a fire or a living space and get to know each other in an unorganized fashion. Bring out the beers and wine and let people get to know people.

These are often times the most memorable parts of a team-building retreat. When you’re looking for lodging, look for a large cabin or house with great big outdoor areas and big living spaces.

Stay organized, build an itinerary.

You are not too good for an itinerary. It will be your biggest regret if you don’t begin building one early. If you’re managing a group of 5 or more, you’ll want that added assurance that you have every detail marked out and ready to do.

One of our favorite ways to manage an itinerary with teams is building it in Travefy. Travefy lets you input all different types of activities and planning so that your group can see it live and in real time on their phone.

Go ahead, sign up now. I’ll wait…

Team Building Retreat Budgeting

Budgeting for a retreat can be difficult. It depends on a lot of different factors between what your leadership has already approved, to the destination of the retreat, to how bouji your team is with their needs (no judgment at all).

Since our expertise is with helping remote teams that range in size between 5-15 people we will help give clarity on that level.

For a 3-5 day retreat, per retreater be prepared to budget around:
Domestic retreat: $1,500 – $2,500+
International retreat: $2,500 – $5,000+
Local retreat: $500 – $1,000

You might be saying, “wow, that’s quite the investment” and you’re right. But while team retreats are not necessarily the cheapest perk of the year, it’s certainly the best investment you can make to not only help strengthen team dynamics but also reduce your yearly churn and help refresh your team’s productivity.

They work hard. Let them breathe for a few days.

Local Team Building Retreat Ideas

Take to the Park

Sometimes the park is all you need to have an awesome team day. Organize a day where your team gets out of the stuffy office building and into some kickball tournament or just host a MASSIVE picnic.

During day distillery tour

How fun would it be to take your team on a distillery or winery tour during the workday. You’d win some serious props with them. When on the tour try to organize a portion of the tour where the team can work to make their own spirits, wine or beer together.

Wilderness Challenge

While the “Escape” room type days are also a popular team building experience, what if you gather your team together to hang out with a wilderness or survivalist expert for the day. Learn doomsday techniques and work together to see what groups could do the best in survival scenarios. Talk about teamwork!

Unique Team Building Retreat Ideas

Secluded Mountain Week

Whether it’s Iceland in the spring or Big Sky, Montana in the fall. There’s something special that happens when you bring people together overlooking beautiful mountainous views. Your budget will determine where exactly you can go, but trust us there are mountains for all team building retreat budgets.

Visit a neighboring state

Isn’t funny how you can spend so much time in the city where you work and never truly explore your state or the ones bordering you? Get one big bus or van and take a road trip to somewhere new that borders your city or state.

Position this as a fun few days team “road trip”.

Remote team retreat Ideas

“The Work-cation”

Your remote team is unique in the sense that your retreats are most times the only time you all will have in-person moments for the year. Since this is the case, often times we find that remote teams want a longer retreat that not only serves as a time to have fun together but also collaborate and get work done in person. Like a traditional company would.

Treat it as a “work-cation” we like to call it. Go somewhere exotic with great wifi and establish “HQ” where you can work together and then spend the off time adventuring around the rainforests or lagoons.

“Launch day is fast approaching”

Maybe you need a retreat that purely serves an objective. This is totally a thing for remote teams. Although your team is built for getting work done from wherever sometimes big milestones need that in-person touch. Again, go somewhere epic with great views that will make hunkering down a little less annoying.

Don’t forget, if you’re retreating to get serious work done, invest extra in delicious catering that will keep wowing your team while they are heads down for launch.

Reward them at the start and end of the retreat with two days of adventures.

C-suite team building retreat ideas

1 word: Iceland

Iceland is an amazing place. We’d recommend looking at it for team retreats of all shapes and sizes. However, if budget is a concern it may not fit for regular team retreats. What Iceland is perfect for is a great opportunity to get your leadership team together and have a truly awakening experience.

Nothing beats complete, uninterrupted time to brainstorm about company direction in a lodge with heated flooring located on a glacier stream overlooking perfect mountains in the distance.

iceland view from lodge
quite literally the actual view from our retreat lodge

It will inspire leadership to do some crazy awesome new things with the business. Guaranteed.

Iceland is one of our flagship retreat locations and we’d love to discuss helping your team head to the land of fire and ice for your next retreat.

From budgeting to the daunting task of putting in all the hours to find all these epic vendors for your team retreat, maybe you’re realizing this whole team building retreat project is about to be a little more time intensive than you think.

While we encourage you to take it on and make one heck of an experience for your team, we also would love to help take the task off your hand so you can save weeks of work. Our Life Nomading retreat team’s goal is to help craft tailor-made retreats that will cater perfectly to your team without adding extra work hours to your plate.

If you’d like to learn more about how our team can help yours in this process, please visit our team retreat page and fill out the quick retreat questionnaire and our team will reach out today to discuss.

Happy retreating!