Rest and relaxation. Sounds like a perfect vacation, right? But if your vacation involves traveling with a group of family and/or friends, you may not be so lucky. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it's that you can’t make everyone happy. But don’t let me stop you from trying. If you’re really set on planning a group vacation, here are some ideas for keeping your sanity.
1. Go All-Inclusive
Arranging for and all-inclusive vacation will help you know up front how much stuff will cost and potentially avoid awkward moments. Carey Driscoll, a Certified Travel Concierge, tells me, “To avoid the stress of figuring out how to split meal costs, drink costs, etc, I recommend going to an all-inclusive resort. One flat price up front and then you don't have to worry about budgeting for all those little extras! And no awkward moments when the waiter asks if you want the checks together or split because there is no check at the end of the meal!”
2. Have Space For Everyone
I remember the last big vacation my whole family took together. My sister and I were adults and our brother was in high school. My parents generously paid for all of us to take a trip to Disneyland. Here's what I remember of it: It rained the whole time and we argued the whole time. Our family shared one hotel room – all five of us - one of whom snored quite loudly. Looking back, I really appreciate my Mom and Dad's good intentions, but it certainly wasn't the vacation any of us had hoped for.
Some space might have helped our situation. Personally, I like my own space. The travel agents I consulted with back me up on this. If it's feasible, they recommend vacation homes where there’s room for everyone to have their own space. Kane Jamison of Three Bears Lodge said, “I'm biased, but I'd recommend staying in vacation rentals instead of hotels. You often get way more space and a full kitchen, plus additional rooms for everyone to spread out - absolutely helps everyone stay sane versus a tight hotel space where you just end up watching TV.”
3. Make Sure The Accommodations Meet Standards
I'll admit, I'm kind of a hotel snob. I like a nice room, but some people are perfectly happy with motels instead of hotels. I'm not judging. I'm just saying that I like my hotels ranked in stars and diamonds. A few weeks back, we met up with some friends for a long weekend. I researched hotels and before booking asked my friend if she was ok with a particular hotel. Turns out, she's a bit of a snob like me so it worked out fine. On the flip side, I had a situation a few years ago where me and a different friend each took turns booking hotels. I did one city and she did the other. For my night, I booked a historic bed & breakfast. My friend had a different idea in mind and booked a motel with a number in its name. Lesson learned.
Kathryn Kardos with Travel En Vogue, a vacation rentals management company advises, “Make sure you choose accommodations that you know will be up to everyone's standards. No one wants to be unpleasantly surprised when they arrive after a long flight!”
Do you have a family vacation horror story? How do you avoid the stress? Share your story by leaving a comment below.