How to travel with extended family so everyone gets a vacation


APRIL, 2017


Families get together at one of their homes for Thanksgiving, holidays, in times of need or celebrations. Sometimes, it’s a rocky relationship among a few (or more) members of the group so why consider vacationing together? Vacations are a time of leisure, but they’re also about escape. Consider the neutral territory—no one person’s home but a location far from everyone’s hectic pace and daily routines. It can work and even be a blissful time for all, as long as some ground rules are agreed upon by all.

Start with general ideas of a place—beach, tropical, mountains, country, domestic, international, fly or drive, etc. Consider keeping the group small, perhaps one or two families with kids and the grandparents (single aunts and uncles are great, if they’re willing to join you!). Have a frank discussion about budget ranges because not considering style of travel and cost can generate hard feelings before travel even begins.

Keep in mind everyone’s physical capabilities. Accessibility, easygoing hikes, wheelchair requests at airports, etc., and other considerations are important to avoid logistical issues, awkwardness, and the ability to keep the itinerary on schedule. It’s not always the grandparents in the travel party who could slow things down. Perhaps someone is traveling with an infant and will need some extra help along the way, depending on the day’s plans and/or the transportation to the destination.

Let everyone get involved with the travel planning to keep the experience fair before and during the trip. Cuisines, sightseeing, excursions, accommodations (“I call big suite with the balcony!” might cause a few issues immediately upon arrival), and other decisions should be discussed prior to traveling. It is seemingly unbelievable that a fight can erupt over eating the last poppy seed bagel in an assortment but probably possible, depending on the personalities in the mix.

Try to hash out the biggest decisions first. A beach house, a suite, number of rooms, amenities of a hotel if you’re staying at one, any type of accommodation and the budget for each family member are all important factors. Yes, everyone has a role—planner, the family member who is perpetually late, the straggler at the museum who reads every accompanying photo caption, the excessive selfie-taker, the drinker, etc. It can work—just keep everyone’s quirks in mind and plan accordingly.

While much of the planning seems overanalyzed or pessimistic, it’s really designed to keep everyone happy and balanced. You don’t have to spend all your time together but discuss it in advance to avoid hurt feelings for anyone who feels left out, which isn’t the intention. Make sure you have honest talks during the trip planning process. Perhaps a few members of the group don’t want to pay for an upgrade if it’s available or maybe someone detests a certain cuisine. While it’s important to plan what you all want to do, where you want to go, how actively or passively you want to spend your time, it is equally vital that you each talk about the dislikes and ‘prefer not to’ items.

Make the environment as fun and light-hearted as you would if you were at the table at Thanksgiving. Laugh, spend a few hours apart, and enjoy a hearty meal together. Maybe buy a few photo frames after the trip to print a few of the best images (always include some B&W pictures). It’s amazing that, just like your own trips, the group ones may have some mishaps but you’ll likely all laugh and even cherish them after the fact.