Anyone who's suffered through a big, uncomfortable family gathering knows that a bigger group doesn't always mean more fun. But with some proper planning, an extended family vacation could be a once-in-a-generation chance for your clan to connect with relatives you don't see that often and make memories that will improve everyone's Return on Life.
Here are four keys to planning an extended family vacation that will offer something for everyone without breaking the bank.
1. Agree on a budget.
Your idea of a great family vacation could be very different from your brother's. Or your parents'. Or your cousin's. Or your great aunt's. Or ...
You get the picture.
So, take the number one thing a large group might argue about -- money -- out of the equation before settling on any plans. Pick a trip that you know most people will be able to afford in a location that's about the same distance for each family. It might also be a good idea to make one big family dinner reservation on an agreed-upon night and then let everyone fend for themselves on the rest of the trip. The splurgers in your family can have an extra fancy dinner or two without bothering the young family of four that wants to hit the grocery store and eat meals in their hotel room with the kids.
2. Schedule for flexibility.
What's something your family loves to do? Or, what's something no one has ever done that could be a memorable group bonding experience?
Once you've all agreed upon one or two big group activities, give every family space to pursue their own interests. Scheduling every second of any trip can drain the fun right out of it. But you could ask families to post activities they want to do to a shared group calendar and invite other families to join in.
Relaxing the overall schedule is also important if your goal is to get a large, multigenerational group together. Kids need entertainment, or at least a pool or a playground where they can burn some excess energy while your sister takes her teens to the art museum. Older seniors need time to rest and recuperate after splashing around with their grandkids.
3. Carve out some grownup time.
As much as most grownups enjoy spending some time with little ones, especially those they only see on social media, no one wants to be a full-time babysitter on vacation. If grandma and grandpa offer to watch the kids one night so that you and your spouse can have a quiet dinner, enjoy your night out, but don't abuse that generosity for the whole trip.
On the other hand, throw some cash at a few responsible teenagers, and all the grownups might be able to have a fun, and well-deserved, night to themselves. If another big dinner isn't in everyone's budget, just find a comfortable place where you can all sit together after the kids’ bedtime, enjoy some food and drinks, and catch up on each other's lives.
4. Preserve the moment.
Who knows when this many members of your family will all be in the same place again?
Before you all go your separate ways, don't forget to snap a picture or take a quick video. If you're lucky enough to have a really large group on the trip, consider adding a photographer to your budget so that everyone is part of the memory and no one is squeezing in front of a cell phone camera.
Are you thinking about plotting an extended family vacation on your $Lifeline in 2023? We’d love to hear about your plans and help you review your travel budget for the year ahead.