We’ve been vacationing together as a family every August for 14 years now. Hard to believe but we did the math and it’s true. When we started this tradition Hannah was 12 and Patrick was only 5! This year we added Jackie to the mix, along with Patrick’s girlfriend Taylor, and Eryk was with us for part of the week as he has been for the past few years. A family vacation is fun but it can also be chaotic and stressful. Over the years I’ve learned a few things that I think are key to making it easy on everyone, and here are 3 of them.
- Plan ahead when it comes to meals. I often bring things from home that are easy to cook – hamburgers to throw on the grill, macaroni salad or potato salad that I make before we go, marinated chicken and stuff like that. It’s fun to eat out but we’re a pretty big group so it can get expensive and also time consuming. This year we had one breakfast out and one dinner out. In year’s past I’ve cooked some big breakfasts and made group lunches but now that everyone is older they pretty much take care of themselves and do their own things for those meals so it’s important to plan ahead for that as well.
- Talk to everyone about their expectations – what’s the one thing that could make or break the vacation for everyone? I know Patrick really loves to go for ice cream and I really love the beach and Dale loves to play yard games. A week can go by pretty quickly so it’s important to find out who wants to do what and make sure it’s fit into the plan. Again, with everyone being older and driving, it’s easier to get all that stuff done.
- Lighten up. It’s vacation so it’s good to relax the rules a bit. Don’t worry if it’s ice cream for dinner or if we never get to something we’ve always done before. Be mindful and remember that even the best of plans are meant to be adjusted. In other words: go with the flow and let everyone do their own thing some of the time!
Those are my tips and I hope they don’t make it sound like a family vacation is a chore or uncomfortable. The truth is that those people in that photo are the reason I love vacation as much as I do – because I get to spend uninterrupted time with them. Relaxing and chatting, reminiscing and telling stories, drinking and eating and playing games and doing all the things that make us a family.
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These three things don’t make a family vacation sound like a chore at all! Carrying off a successful family vacation once or twice is kind of a big deal, but doing it for 14 years shows that your plan works and I’m sure you’re all looking forward to number 15!
Your tips are excellent tips for all family gatherings and any number of vacationers. Learning to be flexible about some “but we’ve always…” especially. Sometimes it happens naturally and isn’t missed. Sometimes you learn it was important and it returns to the event.
Good strategies for any vacation — but especially when there are lots of people to share the vacation WITH! How fun for ALL of you!!!! XO
As in all things, planning makes the difference! We are going through the same process for our trip to Michigan… so much to do, and really so little time! It’s all about balance! What a fun week though!
I love what you have there! (Did Jackie take the picture? ;-))
A group of very happy and relaxed looking people, so your plan must have been successful once again. Squeeze all you can out of this one as it comes to an end!
Jeannie Gray says
Great ideas! Reminds me of a long ago extended family vacation that a cousin always talks about when we’re sitting around telling ‘remember when’ family stories. It was lunch time at the beach and one cousin was fretting over the need to fix a hot lunch for all the kids and my sister simply pulled out a box of granola bars, passed them and a fruit roll-up out to all the kids and called it lunch. Good times!
We are beginning our family vacation, and I wholeheartedly agree with your list!! If this were Five on Friday, I’d add “clean up after yourself” and “take naps when you need them” 🙂
Excellent tips, Carole. Nothing wrecks a vacation faster (or makes it feel like a chore and/or uncomfortable) than chaos and disagreements — especially with a large group! Planning is key (to so many, many things…)
We’re having a family gathering Sunday…that’s the “vacation” for this year…and yes! I echo/second all these tips…they work for vacations and gatherings and whenever families get together …certainly easier as folk get older. Glad you and yours had another great family vaca!
Great tips! I just caught up with your posts and have to say that Jackie takes the spotlight. What a cutie!
The last time I went on vacation with my whole family I vowed “never again”. It was like herding kittens-only worse. We had a fun time, but someones nose was always out of joint. Your vacation is at least in one spot and has plenty of things for everyone to do. Good work!