My family, like so many today, is scattered across the country. So what do you do when part of your family lives on the West Coast and the other on the East Coast and you want to spend time together? You plan a vacation! Of course, it's not that simple when you take into account everyone's varied work schedules and limited vacation time. But it can be done and yes, you can have a blast on a family vacation -- it just takes some planning and communication. Here are seven things to consider:
Location, Location, Location
Think about what your family enjoys doing and what they are looking for. Does everyone want a relaxing vacation on the beach, sightseeing in a city, lots of adventure, or some combination of all of the above? And realize that while sometimes one vacation can fit the bill for all, frequently there are diverse desires, so be sure to connect with all family members early on so everybody can weigh in.
Look for a destination with direct flights from all home bases. Connecting flights can add time to the trip and can even mean a missed connection --and cranky family members!
Yes, it’s a family vacation, but that doesn’t mean you have to be joined at the hip every moment. As the adult kids can attest, it’s an important thing to keep in mind. And parents, don’t feel badly if they want some alone time. Trust me, it makes the together time even better.
Even if your brood scatters during the day for different activities, dinner is the perfect time to get together, especially when the destination is ideal for foodies. Nothing sparks fun conversation like an endless procession of exotic tapas, over-the-top desserts, a waiter making flaming Mexican coffee and a roaming Mariachi band.
All Inclusive vs. A la Carte
Today, more resorts than ever are all inclusive. Let’s face it, when we are sunning ourselves by the pool (okay, sitting in the shade under an umbrella) or in the spectacular infinity pool, nothing completes that island feel more than a couple of mudslides, piña coladas or margaritas. And who can resist the guacamole, chips and ceviche? All-inclusive allows everyone to order whatever, whenever without worrying about divvying up a bill at the end.
While all-inclusive resorts include food, sometimes there are specialty restaurants that have a surcharge, so know that in advance. Also, check out how many restaurant options there are, as no one wants to eat at the same place seven nights in a row. I'd also recommend asking in advance if it's only beer and wine included or if the price includes hard liquor, and what entertainment/activities are included in the resort fee. Also, while there’s always lots of food, it's often mediocre, so read reviews. By doing your research, hopefully no one will be disappointed.
Another option for a family vacation is renting a villa at a non-inclusive resort. But that means buying food and snacks, and renting a car to get to local restaurants for dinner, so be sure to factor that in when weighing your options.
Before leaving for your trip, find out what special sights and activities can be found in the area, and discuss what the priorities are for everyone, sightseeing wise. If there is something everyone wants to see, book as soon as you arrive, since certain excursions can book up really quickly-- again, this reduces the risk of disappointment.
Every family handles vacation finances differently. Some parents pay for everything including airfare. Others have their children pay for the airfare, or if you aren't staying at an all-inclusive resort, the bar bill. Whatever you decide make sure everyone knows upfront who pays for what, as nothing ruins a vacation faster than surprise expenses!