Of course you love them—they’re your family! But sometimes mixing generations of people, all of whom have different interests, can be more of a pain than a pleasure.
While a beach house that fits 12 may sound like a great way to spend your summer, you’ll be dealing with a lot of varied personalities—which is why it helps to have a plan in place to make sure that things run smoothly. From menu plans, to financial discussions up-front, to ways to entertain the kids if the weather doesn’t cooperate, being prepared can help make or break a vacation.
This advice works for adults vacationing together as well—sometimes it’s a surprise to find that your college friends, who used to be okay with sleeping on any pull-out couch, now only want to vacation in five-star hotels, or that your golf buddies have very different ideas of late-night entertainment (seriously…binge watching Netflix?) than you do.
Seven tips for a fun group vacation:
- Find a location where there’s something that interests everyone. A rustic cabin in the mountains is great, but not if your wife wants to go shopping or your kids can’t get cell service. Trust me, it’s going to turn out to be anything but relaxing. While this might be the perfect haven for an outdoorsy, non-technology addicted family, you need to take your family’s interests into account and try to find a location where all of you can exist in harmony.
- Talk about finances before making any arrangements. This applies whether you’re traveling with your own kids or another couple. If you’re on a budget, make sure that your family understands that you may not be able to do everything they want—and then work together to decide what’s most important to everyone. One truly amazing experience is worth a hundred run-of-the-mill ones! Adults often don’t want to talk about limited budgets or added expenses, but it’s imperative that you have this conversation up-front: no one likes costly surprises (dinner for four costs what?) and these types of misunderstandings can undermine a friendship.
- Take some alone time. Not everyone wants to lie on the beach and read a book, and that’s okay. If you have kids, let one parent spend a few hours with them while the other relaxes, and vice versa—you’ll all end up much calmer and ready to revel in each other’s company later.
- Divide the work. No one wants to make dinner for 12 every night, but everyone has to eat and dishes don’t wash themselves. Take turns in the kitchen, and if it helps, make a chart before vacation starts so that everyone knows what they’re expected to do and when. This also helps with menu planning, which can save you money in the long run.
- Be prepared for bad weather. You don’t want to think it could happen on vacation, but Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate. Have games or videos handy for when the kids can’t hit the beach, or plan some indoor fun (have you checked out the museums in the area?) to tide you over until the sun shines again.
- Think about your host! One great way to save money on vacation is to visit family in another state…but remember that you’re staying in their home and not in a hotel. Don’t expect them to cater to your every need or buy all of the food—and remember that Ben Franklin quote: "Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days." Don’t overstay your welcome.
- Give gifts. Flowers, a gift card for dinner out or a bottle of wine can go a long way toward pacifying a host who put up with you, your spouse, your kids and your badly behaved dog for a week. Nothing gets you in someone’s good graces better than being a grateful guest.
Have you taken a big family vacation? What did you do to make it work?
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