Vacationing with other families can create lasting memories and special bonds that span a lifetime. Planned well, a multi-family holiday is a great way to save on costs, and it can be incredibly fun for everyone. All of the kids on the trip will have playmates to keep them entertained, and the grownups can enjoy some work-free, worry-free relaxation. But, without proper planning and clear communication, vacations with others can quickly turn into stressful nightmares full of tension and fierce disagreements.
To avoid disaster, here are a few tips to consider when planning a vacation with another family.
Set Vacation Goals
Everyone has different expectations for vacations. Some prefer to simply lounge by the pool or ocean with a good book, while others like to keep busy with activities like parasailing and hiking. And still others want to take in the local sights – hitting all of the museums and quirky shops. Talk with your co-vacationers before you leave home to make sure you have similar goals and expectations about how you will spend your time.
Decide Where to Stay
All families need to make sure they’re on the same page when it comes to accommodations. One family might want to rent a modest beach house, while another family may prefer to stay at the all-inclusive resort. And once you come to an agreement on the type of lodging and budget, there are a few more considerations before you hit “Reserve Now.”
- How many rooms? Will all of the kids share a room, or will rooms be separated by family?
- Who gets the master suite? There’s always that one room that’s bigger and better than the rest of the place. A good compromise on this: Draw straws, and then the next year, trade rooms.
- Large hangout space. Find a place with a large enough living area to accommodate the whole party. This helps alleviate crankiness and cabin fever on those inevitable rainy days.
Choose Cooking Instead of Restaurants
Cooking dinners is a great bonding experience, especially if you assign cooking duty by having everyone – kids and adults alike – draw a day from a hat. And let the dinner teams choose the meal they prepare. This means you might have hot dogs and chips one night and a three-course meal complete with wine the next. Going to a restaurant with a large group can be an overwhelming experience, but it’s nice to pick at least one night for everyone to go out and enjoy local foods without having to clean up afterwards.
Compromise on Parenting Rules
Because everyone parents differently, it’s important to discuss each family’s rules prior to the trip. Learn to find common ground with the other parents and be flexible. You also need to decide if you’re going to relax the rules – like bedtimes – while on vacation.
Split Into Groups
You don’t have to do every activity with the entire group. Let the older kids go play a round of mini golf while a few adults watch the toddlers attempt to build sand castles. Rotate babysitting duty so that each couple can have some alone time. A few people may be interested in the nearby art museum, while others would rather chill and read books by the pool.
And Remember to Have Fun
You’re on vacation, so kick off your flip flops and put your feet up. Laugh with your friends and snap pics of your kids. Stay positive and soak up the sunshine. But most important, make memories that turn into stories that are retold again and again.