Monday, March 4, 2013

Are We Having Fun Yet? Traveling with Multiple Families

Have you thought about how much fun traveling with friends and their families can be?  Aside from having other adults to engage with, having additional playmates for the kids can eliminate some of the fighting and arguments that go on when vacationing with your family alone.

But how can you travel and make sure your vacation doesn't end like one of the Real Housewives episodes?

First, have a meeting with everyone to decide when and where to go. Everyone needs to be on the same page to enjoy the vacation. One thing to determine is if you'll be traveling within the U.S. or outside. If everyone doesn't have passports, you will be restricted to the U.S. and U.S. territories which don't have many all inclusive options for families.Obtaining a passport for all family members can be a considerable expense.  It is a good idea to start obtaining passports one at a time when funds are available - then you won't be restricted to the more expensive U.S. only options.

Plan early. If you want to vacation when the kids are out of school, you must book your vacation at LEAST a year before traveling to obtain the best pricing and availability. Family resorts like Beaches sell out very early.  This is especially important for summer trips or any holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter when air fare is always priced very high.

Have a realistic budget. Check air pricing before you even begin to decide on  a budget. Airfare is sky high and you must budget accordingly. We are seeing air pricing between $500 - $800 per person to the Caribbean from New York for this summer. The days of $300 air fare are over.  On the very low end, plan at least $1500 per person for 7 nights. Even that may not get you into a 4 or 5 star resort. 

Realize the majority of  hotel rooms only accommodate four people. It is very difficult and expensive to find a room that will hold more than that because the few hotels that have rooms for 5  are usually high end suites such as Presidential that often cost twice as much as a regular room .  For a group of 10 people, we've found three rooms  less expensive than two that hold five.

Parenting styles are different. To avoid resentment later, it's a good idea for all parents to discuss issues ranging from chores, bedtimes, use of electronics, etc. to ensure everyone knows what to expect from each family.

Don't expect to be together 24/7.  Parents sometimes need to get away from the kids, or families may crave some private time with their own family members.  Make sure that everyone is in agreement that being together 24/7 isn't necessary and that each family can take off on their own if they need/want to.

Finally, use your travel agent. They can often find great deals and group pricing for you. They also can co-ordinate all your paperwork and advise and remind you on what to pack. We are experts on family vacations - call us at 516-608-0568.