Summer travel can be a ton of fun, especially when you are doing it with other families – whether that be your extended family or close friends. Depending on the nature of your trip with other families, there are some things you should keep in mind when making the trip a success, especially if you have small children in tow.
The last two summers we have vacationed at the beach with two other families and we had nine children all under the age of seven. To say it was chaotic at times is an understatement. But, with a little bit of forethought, you can have a great time vacationing with your friends and/or family.
Here are some tips when you are planning your multi-family vacation:
Make a Food Plan Ahead of Time
If you are renting a vacation home, this is an important step in the planning process. Make a plan before you go on vacation as to who is responsible for different meals.
Consider having a master list of standard items for lunch and snacks and then assign breakfast and dinner preparations to each family. At that point, each family can shop their respective lists or you can make one big shopping trip when you arrive and split it between everyone.
Bring a Sitter (or Two)
This was probably the best investment we made for the entire week we were at the beach – due to the number of children and the fact that there was a pool and beach, the three families decided to pitch in and hire two teenage sitters who came with us for the duration of the week. They became our “Mother’s Helpers” throughout the days and then when we got the kids off to bed, we even made it out in town for an adult dinner with no kids.
The nature of vacationing with multiple families, especially when there are many, many, many children involved is that there will be moments where it will feel like all hell is breaking loose. Prepare in advance to feel stressed at times and make sure you have bottle of wine at the ready…or chocolate…whatever helps you get through.
Remember that each family parents in their own way and you will all be adapting to the differences that you normally do not see from one another – so bring your patience as well as ability to be flexible for the week.
Vacationing with kids in tow versus without is a completely different dynamic. If you are vacationing with several families, all of which have kids along, you will find that your quality time hanging by the pool will be disjointed if your kids are younger – although having the sitters around does allow for a bit more of that down time.
The first year we vacationed with multiple families, I had grand plans to relax and found myself disappointed that it felt more like a regular day just with the beach and a pool and the ability to hang out with my friends for several days in a row. Keep your expectations realistic.
Plan Time Alone
When the kids are all napping, you may find that you want to go for a walk on your own along the beach. One friend in our group got up early every morning so she could walk alone on the beach because she needed that reprieve from busy nature of our days.
We all had a great time when we were together and the kids were having a blast as well, but when it’s so busy all the time, it can wear on you.
Vacationing with multiple families is a lot of fun, but it does take planning. When you have younger children, it often does not include a ton of relaxation but it is a great way to get time away from regular everyday life and enjoy new surroundings, play with your kids and visit with friends in between all of that.
Do you vacation with friends? What tips would you add to this list?
Image: Ivax McHeaven