Despite being always grateful for the wonderful community of friends my husband and I have met over the years, we really spend most of our time in our little family of 4. Weekends get busy and it’s not so easy to plan with other families who also have to schedule work responsibilities, swim meets, dance performances and grandparent visits. Frankly, until recently I have thought of vacation time as my family’s special time together. But several recent experiences have broadened my perspective.
I’m not saying that I want to go on all our vacations with other families—I deeply cherish the special time spent traveling with just my husband and our kids–but one or two trips a year with friends have made things really fun. We have found that the kids have a total blast when their friends are along and my husband and I enjoy the extended time to catch up with adults whom we usually see quickly in passing, in town, at school drop-off, or between cheers or groans on the sideline of the soccer field.
Small-group family tours offer similar benefits but, if you can hand-pick your traveling companions based on similar ages of children or general compatibility, all the better, I say!
Since you know that the time to plan your family vacation is NOW, I want to share a few fun ideas for traveling with friends.
Ski Vacation in the Alps—OK, I know there are slopes closer to home and that’s a great mulit-family vacation, too, but I am kind of obsessed with Club Med ski resorts in Europe (18 of them stretching across 8 countries). There is really good value to be found at the resorts since they are all-inclusive—accommodation, food, lift tickets and lessons!
Baja Family Kayak Trip—This trip is an amazing mix of beach, sun, action and free play. All you have to pack are your clothes and some beach essentials and all of the complicated logistics will be expertly handled by your guides. A chef will prepare excellent meals and your families will have tons of time to snorkel, talk, laugh and watch beautiful sunsets together in a natural wonderland.
Galapagos Cruise—This is a bucket-list trip for a lot of people but it is not as unattainable as people think. Small boats carry between 30 and 100 passengers so you can determine how exclusive you want your experience to be. (You could even charter an entire boat for your group!) You will generally get off the boat twice each day to explore the islands and while on board the kids can play games or spend time with onboard naturalists or activity leaders while grown-ups get some R & R.
Villa Rentals—This is really possible anywhere around the world. Some great choices are Mexico, Italy, Costa Rica and Bali. You may have noticed that all of my recommendations have someone else doing the cooking. I generally like this in a vacation but I think this is especially important when traveling with other families. A chef is almost always an option when renting a villa. The choices are endless—pool, game room, lakefront, and as many bedrooms as you need.
Graduation Trips—Whenever we celebrate the milestones of kids growing up, it seems an important opportunity to reaffirm our family bonds at the same time that we honor the independent lives are kids are creating for themselves. A multi-family vacation to an all-inclusive beach resort is a great way to do this. Parents and kids can have set time together, at meals or on excursions for example, while kids have the time they crave with their peers—but not too far away from the adults.
So, there you have some options for fun multi-family vacations and these are only the tip of the iceberg. Now you just need to decide… who, when and where!