So, you are traveling with extended family. How exciting! Getting aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws together for a week away is a great way for families to reconnect and make lifelong memories. But, with so many people, spanning different generations, a fun-filled family vacation can quickly turn into a high-stress and opinion-filled scenario. Luckily, there are ways to avoid this so that you and your family can enjoy and remember a wonderful time together.
Consider the Location
When planning a vacation with extended family, you’ll first want to pick a location and environment that is neutral for everyone. Whether that’s the beach, mountains, or countryside, you’ll need to consider whether the location is accessible via car or plane and whether it’s a place that comfortably sits inside everyone’s budget. It’s important to nail down the budget for everyone beforehand as money can be a point of contention and stress for many people. You’ll also want to consider everyone’s physical capabilities as well.
Go for a Vacation Rental/Home Versus a Hotel
In a world where Airbnb, VRBO, and other vacation rental services are reigning king, you’ll often find beautiful homes, large enough for the entire family, for a fraction of the cost of a hotel. Not only are they usually more budget-friendly, but they provide a place for the entire family to stay together instead of being holed up in individual rooms. This way, your family can eat together, play games, and just simply be together! After all, that’s the entire point of the planned get together, right?
Keep Your Costs Low
When you’re traveling with extended family, we mentioned that budgets should be discussed beforehand. In general, it’s a win-win for everyone if the costs of the vacation can be kept to a minimum. Consider the fact that during these types of getaways, you could be traveling with middle-class parents, retired grandparents, broke college students, and people scattered in between. Some people will inevitably have more money than others, so you want to make sure you’re not leaving anyone out or making them feel obligated to spend money when they don’t really have it.
Keep your vacation costs low by making 1 to 2 meals at the vacation rental every day and only ‘splurging’ for restaurants once a day or a few times during the entire trip. Have your family come up with different “themed” nights and rotate cooking dinner between family members. For example, one night can be a Mexican Fiesta, another night could be an Italian Pasta Feast, etc. Get creative and have fun with it!
As far as activities go, of course, money is bound to be spent but also try and incorporate free activities like hiking or swimming at the beach or a lake. Do some research beforehand to know what activities are available for you and your family.
Don’t Feel Pressure to Do Everything Together
A sure-fire way to cause friction during a family vacation is putting pressure on everyone to do every single activity together. Instead, pick a few meals that you’ll be having together, and if individual families want to go out and do their own thing–give them the freedom to do so. This will help prevent people from being at each other’s throats by the end of the trip.
Let Teenagers Have a Voice
If you’ll be traveling with any teenagers in your group, it’s important to let them have a say in what activities you’ll be participating in and what food you’ll be eating. Avoid having a tuned-out, ornery teen in the group by putting them in charge of a few aspects of the vacation. They’ll feel valued, important, and heard.
Chores on vacation? I know, sounds like a bummer, but unless your family is able to afford daily maid service at your rental, they have to be done. Keep your vacation time and the rental home running like a well-oiled machine by assigning and dividing daily chores. Grandma can sweep the front porch, kids (who are old enough) can do some picking up, and Uncle Joe can be in charge of manning and cleaning the grill. Rotate who will be helping clean the dishes every night so no one gets burnt out.
Build Memories–Not Pressure
The memories you and your extended family will make on a vacation together are absolutely priceless. However, that gratitude may turn into resentment if people feel pressured to repeat the vacation every year. If your family is able to turn it into a tradition, that’s amazing, but you’ll need to consider everyone’s lifestyles and other commitments they might have. Maybe consider doing the trip every other year or switch up the destination so it’s closer to a family that can’t afford plane tickets that year.
Traveling with extended family can be a wonderful bonding experience for everyone. With a well-thought-out plan and some careful decision-making, your family vacations will be something you look forward to every single time.