Monday, June 27, 2011

How to Plan a Multi-Family Vacation

When I first read this article about "multi-family vacations", I thought...."Wait a minute, isn't that just called a vacation?"

Looking back on my childhood, I realized that my family almost NEVER took a trip alone.

There was Swimming in the pool with my cousins in Palm Desert, Camping with a huge group of friends in Yosemite Valley, and Skiing with my mom's side of the family in Lake Tahoe.

The few times my parents tried to take us places "alone", my siblings and I were horrified.
"What are we supposed to do...hang out with EACH OTHER?!?"
Teenagers on a Family Vacation
Actual photograph of my siblings "hanging out with each other" on vacation.

That never sounded like much of a vacation to me.

Whether the travel industry is finally picking up on something families have been doing for a long time, or whether the trend is actually on the rise with the precarious economy, Multi-family traveling might just be the answer for your next vacation.

We've seen it all at White Buffalo Resort, so Here's our take on the perfect multi-family vacation:

1) The Lone Flag-Bearer:

Now, you might be thinking "More people? Great! We can split all the responsibility!" Sorry to burst your bubble. When it comes to planning a multi-family vacation, it always seems to boil down to one staunch soul calling to arrange dates, lodging, arrivals and departures.

Find the most organized, datebook-loving person in your group and appoint them. Make sure they have good phone skills- I've never seen a group planning endeavor that didn't require multiple rounds of phone calls between parties.

2) Splitting the Bill:

Don't hand over that credit card for just anybody.

Most places are going to require a non-refundable deposit to reserve lodging. In the heat of the moment, it may seem easiest to put out the money yourself and collect every one's "shares" later.

We would recommend proceeding with caution, unless you really know and trust the people you're traveling with. Will you have to sic a collection agency on Great Aunt Angie?
We certainly hope not, but we've seen it happen.

Smaller, privately owned businesses may be willing to work with you here. We at White Buffalo know how painful it can be to go all "Ebeneezer Scrooge" on your friends and family, and have therefore been known to split bills twelve different ways down to the last percentage of tax.

Check whether your vacation location will let each person call to individually put down "their share" of the divided deposit, (we do). This way, all members of your party are equally committed, and less likely to cancel at the last minute, leaving you responsible for their part of the bill.

Friends bringing pets? Make sure they're aware of and responsible for any nightly fees for pets or additional guests. It may seem a little miserly to demand that your travel buddies pay up front, but its ultimately much better than tainting the end of your vacation with resentment, confusion and quarreling.

3) First one in gets the best bedroom.

4) Dividing Cooking:
From a mom's perspective, this makes any vacation, (especially camping) easier. Know your group's expectations up front. Will you want to eat every meal together? Dinners only? Eat completely separate, but come together to have s'mores over a campfire at night? If you do decide to eat meals together, it can simplify everyone's vacation to split things up beforehand. Designate a different party to cook for the group each night. Or decide on different side dishes each of you can contribute.

5) Togetherness.
Just cause you're on vacation TOGETHER, it doesn't mean you're inseparable. Don't remain dutifully glued to your group if it means missing out of something you're genuinely interested in. And if you're the planner- don't make group activities mandatory. Remember that people view "vacations" differently- and that while some need to see and explore and do everything offered, others just need a pool chair to lounge in. Be understanding- your goal should always be to avoid hurt feelings or resentment.

If your vacation desires diverge, plan a few days where you'll head in different directions. Make sure to come back together at night to share stories about your different adventures.

All in all- multi family vacations can mean savings, new traditions and fun. Our Deluxe Lodges are big enough to accommodate togetherness AND privacy, and there's always room in the campground for one more tent. Plan your next vacation together and see what memories you end up making.

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