Tips For Vacationing With Other Families and Friends
Joint Vacations Can be Magical.
Or They Can Leave You in Tears and in Need of Consolation.
Don't Risk a Meltdown
Good planning and good communication make all the difference.
Tips for Joint Vacations
Joint vacations with other couples or families can be magical or they can leave you in tears and destroy previously cherished relationships. This hub will offer tips that will ensure everyone in your group respects each other's needs, personalities and budgets and has the trip of a lifetime.
My husband and I started vacationing with other families when our son was young and now that we're empty nesters we still go on joint vacations. There are no longer any kids with us but it's still special to go away together.
In addition to spending time with friends and/or family, there are several advantages of taking joint vacations. It's generally more economical to rent one large vacation home or condo than separate hotel rooms, plus a house offers more privacy, a full size kitchen and may have a game room and/or pool.
Another good way to take a joint vacation, especially if you are going with more than 3 families, is to sign up for a cruise which includes meals and entertainment while on the ship. Unless your group is large enough to be eligible for a discount, each family can book their own cabins and be responsible for their own payments, decreasing the chances of discord over money.
Cruises also eliminate the need to spend any time doing housekeeping chores and meal preparation which means there'll be less stress for everyone and will help you avoid "The Odd Couple" syndrome if one family is neat and likes everything spotless and the other doesn't believe in doing any housework while on vacation.
Whatever type of vacation you take with other people using good communication skills and advance planning is very important. The rest of this hub will discuss five key points that we've found helpful when vacationing with friends or relatives.
Imagine your dream vacation.
Then share your dream with others and you may find a way to make it come true.
5 Keys to a Great Joint Vacation
- Create a vacation budget and stick to it. Everyone needs to be honest about what they can afford. For example, when our son was little we invited my sister to go on vacation with us after her divorce and at first she declined because she felt bad that she couldn't afford to split the rent. We told her to come anyway because we were renting the same size condo regardless of whether or not she came. She insisted on splitting the supermarket food bill and also cut our son's hair (she was a beautician) and took him to the boardwalk one night so my husband and I could go out alone. The key point is that all parties involved need to be open and honest with each other in regard to how costs will be handled. That way creative arrangements can be made that work well for everyone.
- If your group lives near each other consider hosting a vacation planning party. Serve light refreshments while the group decides on a destination, type of lodging and mode of transportation. We did this when we planned an Outer Banks, NC beach vacation with 2 other couples and the party was half the fun of going away together. We chose to rent a large house with private pool and split the week's rent 3 ways. We created a list of food for each couple to bring so that we didn't end up with duplicates of things like ketchup and cereal. And we each took responsibility for making a special dinner one night during the week.
- Decide in advance whether all activities/outings will be done together, separately, or a combination of the two. We did a combination of the two and kept it very open. If special activities were planned it was understood that all could join in if they wanted to but it was also alright to stay back at the house or do something else and meet up later.
- Try to anticipate the unexpected such as what will happen if one couple needs to back out at the last minute after the unit has been paid for and there are no refunds from the rental agency available and/or no time for the remaining couple(s) to rent a smaller, less expensive home. If possible discuss this in advance and decide how it will be handled.
- Other special situations can arise when one family owns a vacation home or condo that's large enough for the group to stay in together. Here again, communication is key. Some owners, as was the case with our friends, may not be comfortable accepting "rent" and may insist that you be their guests. Our compromise solution was to pay for the week's groceries and treat them to a dinner out.
Creative Arrangements Are Key to Affordability and Fun
Good friends are a true blessing and vacationing together and/or swapping vacation units can be fun and more affordable than taking traditional vacations and staying in a motel. The key is flexibility and being open to creative arrangements.
My husband and I had the opportunity to stay in a lovely Orlando, Florida resort for a week this winter because dear friends had a timeshare they couldn't use this year and offered it to us. The only payment they would accept was the cost to cover the modest transfer fee. As the unit slept 6, my adult son who's single was able to join us and a friend who lives in another part of Florida was able to spend the weekend. So one couple's generosity allowed 4 other people to get to Orlando and Disney on a shoestring budget.
Be open to offers that come your way and also to being the one to suggest creative vacation opportunities. Times are tough and many people can't afford traditional vacations. If you have a spare bedroom consider inviting friends who live a few hours away to come and stay for a weekend or a week and act as tour guide to your community. Most likely they will reciprocate and it will be a win/win situation.