How to Plan Your First Trip to Europe
How to Plan a Multi Family Vacation
Getting together as a family for a vacations is hard, and getting multiple families together on vacation is even harder. Most people live increasingly busy lives and there's the rising cost of nearly every form of travel. Making sure that you make the most of your family get together is important. It all starts with planning ahead. Read on from step number one below.
Put someone in charge of the vacation while talking to your family members.When planning a multi-family vacation, put someone in charge of the vacation. While everyone is responsible for their own itineraries (like plane flights) and special needs, someone is orchestrating the master schedule so that everyone can be on the same page. In this way, decisions can be made quickly, there’s a central point of contact for most everything and it reduces confusion and malaise.
Decide on the dates, location and the venue and start committing early.Usually, everyone has a few places they’d really like to go to. Others have certain places that they absolutely can't or won't go to. Everyone has some level of budget restriction. The person in charge of the vacation should solicit all this information from everybody and even delegate some of the research to family members. Early decision making is really important if you want to get your first choice at a reasonable price.
Choose the type of accommodation.Some sample ideas for get together venues are:
- Villa / Vacation Rental – getting one big house with one big kitchen/living room is a great way to spend quality time with the family. There’s nothing like being able to stroll into the living room to watch a late night movie with whoever is staying up. Conversations need not be interrupted prematurely and plus there’s always a central base that is the hub of activity. Sharing the cost of this type of accommodation is practical and cost effective too.
- Cruise – the ultimate in convenience. You don’t have to worry about food and you unpack only once. Make sure you get cabins reasonably near each other or else you risk spreading the hub of activity.
- Tours – Some tour companies can customize a tour for your family if you have a minimum number of people in your group. Many view tours as a great way to learn more about a place while others may view tours as being too restrictive.
- Hotels / Resorts – suites are a great way to pack more people together and to save on costs. For large get-togethers though it can be somewhat impersonal because hotel rooms are too small to accommodate everybody for a chat or to play a game and so you end up with dispersed mini-groups within the get together. If you have to book multiple hotel rooms, try to get them all in one wing or even suites that connect if possible. Look for group discounts too - depending upon the size of your group you may qualify.
- Family member's house – choosing one family member’s house to congregate at is definitely the cheapest option. You never have to worry about picking the right restaurant and stocking up is easy to do.
- There are other options such as working ranches/farms, Disneyland, Disney World, RV, houseboat, camping, renting, and taking that trip around America on Amtrak.
The key is to get the commitment first. As soon as you agree, start booking. Once people are committed, meaningful planning goes a lot faster and easier.
Organize the basics online with Google Docs.You could do this via email, but you will be inundated with a myriad of emails that will add even greater confusion. One source that you may find useful is to use a group website such as PBWiki, where family members can add their own information
- Have everyone put their flights on a group calendar - this makes it easier to coordinate airport pickups and car rental configurations.
- Put local resources and maps on the group site so that everyone will have the latest and greatest information
- Place everyone’s email addresses, phone and/or cell numbers on BOTH your cell phone and computer for quick communications. Add any other important information such as immunizations, passports, temperature and weather patterns and provide that information to all family members.
- Consider booking a few restaurant reservations before your trip. If you have a large group, trying to find a decent restaurant last minute that can accommodate a large party may be impossible.
- Make an online shopping list, and have all family members add things that they would like to eat, snack, beach toys, etc. Think about setting up a department store run as your first order of business when you get there so you can stock up on the things you need early.
Don’t be a control freak.Nothing can sap the fun out of a vacation than somebody who can’t roll with the punches – and especially for the person who is organizing or helping to organize the vacation. No vacation works out exactly as you plan. Remember that you are having a vacation and that means having fun, not making sure everything on the planned itinerary is checked off. Only plan, at most, two activities in a day. Getting so many people coordinated is difficult already and any transitions between activities takes more time than you think. Somebody always wants to visit that gift shop for a little bit extra time or to take that side diversion and you have to be able to accommodate for that.
Plan 2 activities a day.The purpose of a family vacation is to have family spend time with each other and especially to engage with each other in conversation. A couple of ideas to make sure you include everybody and increase those memorable moments:
Deal with different money situations early.Some family members may want to split costs while others may want to pay for everything themselves. There's also preferences for either spending money on everything separately or together in one payment. You need to talk to all of your family members individually and take notes on a notepad on how they want to spend their own money. You can also put together a spreadsheet with everyone's names on them and have them fill it out with their own preferences.
Start talking about the next vacation.You can’t beat face-to-face communication. Spend a little time on the last day of your vacation talking about what you want to do for the next vacation. You can get a lot done talking about it in person in a group versus over email or over the phone and plus you’ll be fresh with the knowledge of what worked well and what didn’t.
Keep the vacation spirit alive.Make sure everyone gets home safely by sending an email calling them on the phone. Do some photo sharing and if you are enterprising, put together a photo album using services like and so that you can always remember the good times all of you had together as a family.
- It's best to go all-inclusive so you'll only have to pay just 1 price for everything. If any of your family members disagree, you can explain that the easiest way to plan vacations is to stay organized.
- Don't get upset if some of your family members can't or won't join you, since it's as much your decision as it is theirs.
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