Guest Post: Several Families, One Fabulous Vacation
Since I’m off traveling today myself, I thought I’d bring you a special guest post from my good friend Tanya. If you are thinking of taking a trip with other families (and with Spring Break coming up soon that might be a great idea) then this post will help you create a fun and memorable trip for everyone. We try to go on several vacations a year with either my SIL, parents or a good group of friends. With all that experience, I thought I knew everything there was to know about traveling with other families, but Tanya has some great tips that were new to me. Check it out below and then be sure to go over to her site for more fun and exciting trips and tips!
I’m Traveling Tanya, and as you may have guessed…I love to travel!
I am a busy mother and wife who works full time and takes on too many volunteer roles! But somehow I still find time to travel. And you can too!
At www.travelingtanya.com I share my own travel experiences and tips with the goal of inspiring busy people to make travel a priority.
I also love hearing about other people’s travel, and I get tons of inspiration from Pam’s everyday adventures. Today I’m delighted to be a guest on BeHealthyBeHappyWellness to share my tips for planning a fabulous vacation, not just for your own family, but for multiple families.
Does the idea of planning a vacation with several other families sound like an amazing adventure…or a complete nightmare?!
Planning a trip with numerous adults and children, all with different wants and needs can be challenging. But it can also be tons of fun!
We ventured to Gatlinburg for 4 days in 2016 and then to North Myrtle Beach the following year. Each trip included 3 additional families and more than 20 people in total. And we had a blast!
Before those trips, we enjoyed shorter excursions with the same families. Camping trips and also a few days at a cabin in southern Indiana. So we already had a pretty good idea that a longer trip was possible…and that it was sure to be a good time!
I’m excited to share the secrets to planning and enjoying multi-family vacations.
We have learned several tips and tricks to make these multi-family trips successful. The kind of vacations you talk about for years to come, for all the right reasons!
Traveling Tanya’s 10 Tips for Planning a Multi-Family Vacation
1.Travel with people you like. This may sound obvious, but it is critical to an enjoyable vacation! We all have those friends we cherish but feel taxed after spending a long evening with. Some friends are best enjoyed in small doses. Don’t go on vacation with those friends. Or there is that sweet family whose child throws a major temper tantrum EVERY time you get together. Don’t go on vacation with that family. If you hang out with several families and everyone seems to get along fairly well and you feel comfortable around each other, plan a short getaway before committing to a week-long excursion.
2. Make sure everyone has a friend. Of course, it’s critical that the adults get along. But if the children are not happy and entertained, then the adults won’t be relaxing. And really, isn’t that why we go on vacation! Generally, families with children are friends with other families who also have children…and hopefully, the kids are friends too. If your big crew does not include a playmate of the same age and gender for one of your children, consider bringing along a friend. Yes, it is one more mouth to feed, but it may just help provide the sanity your vacation needs.
3. Designate one couple to take the lead. Planning a vacation with multiple families can be a lot like herding cats. In order to make decisions and keep the planning process moving forward, it is helpful to have one couple leading the ship. This couple should not resemble a dictatorship, but rather should act as vacation facilitators. Ensuring decisions get made and everyone has a voice. (note from Pam – I do this for our group trips and I think of myself as getting to play out my travel agent dreams!)
4. Agree on timeframe and destination. With busy families, this may be the hardest step. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. We usually work out our schedules and vacation availability over text or Facebook messaging. Then we move on to selecting travel destinations that work best for our large group and the time of year we plan to travel. Many of those discussions have taken place at one of our homes over a few bottles of wine. Vacation planning really can be fun!
5. Discuss the budget and payment plan. Once you have settled on the dates and general destination, a more sobering topic needs to be addressed (put down the wine for this one!). Each family needs to be upfront about how much they are willing to spend on accommodations and truly commit to investing in this trip. Nothing will ruin a friendship faster than if one couple backs out at the last minute and leaves the other families picking up their part of the tab. Nailing down your overall budget will also help you narrow down your search for accommodations.
6. Ensure enough beds and bathrooms. No matter what destination you choose, everyone will need to sleep and use the bathroom during this trip. Even though some of us may think the idea of sleeping on the beach sounds like a good idea, it’s not! At a minimum, each couple should have their own bedroom and bathroom. Consider the ages and genders of the children when deciding how many additional bedrooms and bathrooms might be needed. The more teenage girls, the more bathrooms you will need! Sleeper sofas can work for some children but keep in mind sleep schedules and how that will work with other vacation activities. Sleep deprived kids generally equal sleep deprived and unhappy parents! While hotels are always an option, renting a large house or cabin is a great option for comfortably hanging out as a group and still having some private space. Have fun exploring the gigantic homes you can rent on Airbnb and VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner).
7. Work out bed assignments. It is helpful to already know where everyone will sleep before the first person even arrives. Ask for a floorplan if one wasn’t provided on the rental website. Typically, not all bedrooms are created equal so this can get tricky. But that’s why it is good to have a plan before you arrive. You may choose to give a cost break to the couple with the sub-par room. Or agree to forgo the room with the balcony with the agreement that you get first pick of rooms on the next group trip. You are all friends, after all, so you can get through this decision!
8. Coordinate meals before you travel. Another benefit of renting one big house is access to a huge kitchen. For budget-conscious travelers, having a kitchen can keep costs reasonable. Not to mention how hard it is to get a table for 20 for dinner in a popular tourist town. We generally go pretty casual for breakfast and lunch, but then have each family take charge of one dinner during the week. We have enjoyed a Mexican spread, BBQ with all the fixings, and an Italian feast. All made by our friends. And we even had fun being the cooks on our night in the kitchen. Of course, all of this requires a trip or two to the local grocery store. Call me crazy, but I enjoy vacation grocery shopping way more than regular grocery shopping!
9. Consider excursions. Depending on your destination, jet skiing and banana boat rides may be on the itinerary. Or hiking and the local aquarium could be on someone’s to-do list. Again, it helps if one couple takes the lead on a particular activity. Decide who wants to join in and make a game plan. Keep in mind, the entire gang doesn’t have to do everything together. Which brings me to my final tip.
10. Give everyone some space. While togetherness is a given with a multi-family vacation, that doesn’t mean everyone must be joined at the hip. One couple may need a date night out alone. Lucky for them there are plenty of babysitters around! Another family might want to carve out time for a special activity just for their clan. I say go for it! This is your vacation, after all. Enjoy the camaraderie of friends as well as the family closeness that going on vacation provides.
Looking back, these multi-family trips have been some of our favorites. And I know my daughters would agree they rank right at the top of our list of Best. Vacations. Ever!
With some careful planning, a bit of patience, and a bottle (or 2) of wine, you too can organize and enjoy a multi-family vacation!
For more travel tips and inspiration, check out www.travelingtanya.com.
Wherever the road takes you, make it a joyous journey,
What do you think? Are you ready to plan a vacation with some other families? I know I’m fired up about our upcoming Spring Break trip with the neighbors after reading this!
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