Planning a trip is half the fun of the experience. Why not double the fun and share a vacation with another family? With built-in friends for your kids to play with and other adult company to enjoy, a co-vacation may be just the ticket to creating great memories this summer. Before you pack the suitcases though, check out these suggestions to make sure your vacation is enjoyable for everyone.
Hold a group planning party
Even if you think you know the other family well, take time to talk out the details of your trip. Be sure to clearly communicate your expectations when it comes to sharing responsibilities. All family vacations come with a fair amount of work, so take advantage of the larger number of people going and divide up jobs. Local Indianapolis dad, Brian M., also gives these suggestions when travelling with another family: “Know their habits (and yours)! Cover the differences and know how you will handle them before going. Also, know that it’s okay to not spend all of your time together. Going different directions is not a bad thing.”
Discuss the budget
Money can be an uncomfortable topic, but it’s best to have a general idea of what each family’s budget is before agreeing to vacation together. Discuss in advance what big ticket items (like a dolphin cruise) each family may be planning. With a candid talk about what you are willing to spend, everyone can stay within their financial comfort zone.
Shop ahead of time
From your planning party, you should have an idea of how many meals you plan on making and how often you will dine out. Kristin Knott, an Indianapolis AAA agent, suggests shopping together before the trip for most of items you’ll need and then picking up perishable items once you arrive. You may want to consider having a common snack bin and building your dinner menu around themes. By thinking about these details in advance, you won’t waste valuable vacation time making a grocery list and spending more time than necessary in the supermarket.
Understand each family’s schedule
Every family has their own idea of what vacation means. Some look forward to a complete break from their normal schedule, while others prefer to have a structure with planned activities in place. Talk about your expectations in this regard to avoid uncomfortable conversations later. Discuss the possibility of having at least a rough schedule in place that everyone can agree on. (For example, Monday will be a beach day, Tuesday is the amusement park and Wednesday each family will go off on their own.) Also, consider taking turns watching the kids so each couple can have a date night while on vacation.
Flexibility is essential (and as a parent you already know this.) But remember, that you will not only need to be tolerant and patient with the needs of your family, but for the potential illnesses, meltdowns and other unforeseen events of the other family as well. Go into the vacation knowing that you may have to make accommodations for the good of the group.
Now, where to go? There are dozens of great destinations for multi-family vacations. Here are a few recommendations.
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Hilton Head is the perfect multi-family getaway spot. With numerous family activities and accommodation options, including large homes with pools, hotels with great amenities and condo complexes, any family will find a way to have a great time here.
While the beach is the main draw to Destin, there are also many nearby activities and restaurants perfect for multiple families. Destin offers a wide variety of attractions to meet the needs of every member of your group.
If your travelling companions prefer the mountains to the beach, Gatlinburg is the ideal spot. With countless large cabin rentals available, the area is set up with multi-family vacationers in mind.
Traverse City, Michigan
For a more low-key destination, check out Traverse City and its surrounding areas. With its beautiful scenery and quaint town, families can turn their focus to relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.