For This Year's Family Reunion Vacation
year, my extended family, ranging from age two to eighty, embarked
on our first family reunion vacation.
we all returned home with cherished memories, there were several
things I would do differently next time. Like working out beforehand
how the cooking and childcare responsibilities would be distributed.
Or renting one more car than we thought we needed to prevent
some family members from being stranded while others went off
The travel industry is reporting a surge in multigenerational
travel, citing the need for families to bring everyone closer
together. According to the Travel Industry Association of America,
25% of travelers are planning to attend a family
reunion this year. The emerging trend is to hold the reunion
in a vacation destination, allowing family members to reconnect
in a relaxed setting.
with a large group can be a wonderful opportunity for children
to establish bonds with far-flung family members. Feeling part
of a family is especially important for children because it
provides a sense of security in these unsettled times. But don't
kid yourself - a family reunion can be a lot of work.
planning a family reunion vacation this summer, there are a
few tips to follow that will go a long way in eliminating stress
TWO FAMILY MEMBERS AS COORDINATORS
The family should choose someone who's willing to work
with all the participants and coordinate the vacation. It's
usually better to designate two people so all the blame won't
fall on one person if something goes wrong (inevitably, something
will). The coordinator should plan the dates for the vacation,
book the lodging and handle the money for deposits.
A year in advance is not too early to begin planning a family
reunion vacation. This gives families plenty of time to schedule
the dates around summer camp, school start dates, etc. Some
families prefer to plan their reunion vacations around the December
holidays; the family can still be together and no one has the
burden of playing host at their own home.
It's amusing to read about large extended families going on
Caribbean cruises or African safaris together. It sounds like
fun, but it' s out of most family's budget ranges. Unless the
reunion is centered around a special, once-in-a-lifetime occasion
such as a 50th
wedding anniversary or a rich uncle is willing to foot the
bill, it's better to lean on the side of economical.
is to choose a location where there are a variety of lodging
choices such as a state park offering both cabins and campsites.
Other way to lower the cost is to vacation in the shoulder seasons
of May and September.
Before you book the lodging, you need to decide which is the
most important-privacy or cost. Unfortunately, the two have
an inverse relationship. What you might save in money will cost
you in terms of privacy. It's certainly cheaper to share
the cost of lodging with another family, but sometimes it's
not worth it if too much togetherness ruins your vacation. Before
you put a group together, consider how well the family members
will get along together over a period of time. If you have doubts,
split everyone up.
our vacation, we first considered individual condominiums located
on the Florida Panhandle. We liked the idea of each family having
their own condo with plenty of privacy and separate cooking
facilities. Unfortunately, at $1,000 per unit, per week, the
cost was too high. Instead, we settled on a huge, five-bedroom,
three-bath townhouse. Each family still had their own private
bedroom to retreat to when they needed space and the cost dropped
to around $300 per family, per week. Everyone agreed the savings
of over $3500 was worth giving up a little privacy.
ON WORK DETAILS BEFOREHAND
It's easy when families get together for the old family hierarchy
to slip back into place. A grandmother who recently vacationed
with her children and grandchildren reported back that, "my
grown children expected me to do all the cooking and babysitting.
They didn't seem to realize I was on vacation too."
work is distributed unevenly (and yes, there will be work!),
resentment is bound to bubble up in somebody. When a large group
gets together there's always grocery shopping, cooking
and childcare to think about. If the family plans to eat meals
together, ask everyone to donate a certain amount of money upfront
for groceries. Then assign each family group a meal to be responsible
for preparing and cleaning up afterwards.
is another issue that can cause problems. While most grandparents
cherish the extra time with their grandchildren, don't forget
they need some time to themselves too. Don't assume grandparents
will want to stay home babysitting the children every night
while the other adults go out to dinner. Be considerate and
ask first before handing over the kids.
many families living far apart, family reunion vacations may
be the only opportunity during the year for members to be together.
Even though it takes a little work to ensure a smooth vacation,
it's well worth the effort.
Paula Hughes Court
Travel Fun is a non-commercial online planning guide to
fun family vacations. The staff is made up of travel writers
who deliver unbiased reviews of the destinations, cruises, hotels
and theme parks they visit.