Remember those days when you used to spontaneously slip off with your honey for a cozy, romantic getaway? Well, now that you’re a mama, vacation means family time. When the in-laws, your parents and siblings, your S.O.’s sibs and their kids, and your third cousins invite themselves along, you need to know how to handle all the extended family, um… togetherness. Scroll on for our tips that will make traveling with the whole gang a lot more enjoyable.
1. Assign rooms. Whether you’re renting a house, Airbnb-ing it, or staying in a suite, don’t leave the rooms up to chance. Inevitably, your single cousin will get there first and stake their claim on the master bedroom with a king-sized bed and two couches, while you, your hubby, and three children get stuck with a single twin. Before everyone nabs their spot, have a family meeting and assign spaces.
2. Include everyone. You may not be BFFs with your mother-in-law, but that doesn’t mean you should exclude her from the fun. Make sure to include all family members in every activity — even if you think they won’t want to go. It’s better to ask than assume; people feeling left out will put a damper on everyone’s good time.
3. Try a sitter swap. Think about all the babysitting options that are available on an extended family vacation. Your sister can watch the kids, and so can your mother. And then there are the teenage cousins, the fun uncle, and your in-laws. Along with asking one of your family members to watch your kiddos while you head out for the evening, try a sitter swap. Take turns watching all the kids by swapping babysitting duties with the other parents in the group so every adult will get their chance for a night out on the town.
4. Opt for lunches out. A late-night dinner out after a day full of sightseeing, swimming, and activities is a recipe for a major toddler meltdown. Even though having your kiddos with you might not be conducive to nighttime dining, you still want to enjoy a nice meal on your trip. Switch out dinner reservations for a stepped-up lunch (meaning no fast food or pizza) for a culinary experience no one will (hopefully) cry through.
5. Bend the rules. When you’re at home, the little ones have a strict 8pm bedtime. But on vacation, there are fireworks that start at 9:30. You could stick to the rules and stay home with them as the rest of your extended family enjoys the display — or you could bend the rules and let them stay up late. When it will benefit the whole crew (i.e., you too!), you might want to consider making allowances.
6. Get a guide. No, this doesn’t mean you need to hire a tour guide, although you can if you want to. But it could be as simple as appointing a family member as your daily guide. With the extended crew in tow, keeping things running smoothly can be tricky to say the least. Instead of expecting everyone to just follow the trip agenda on their own, have your “guide” be in charge of keeping the group on schedule.
7. Offer options. Chances are that your 90-year-old grandma won’t be up for spending the day walking around an amusement park in the summer heat, and it’s equally as unlikely that your six-month-old baby will sit through a four-hour tour of Impressionist artwork. Accommodate everyone’s ages, needs, and interests by offering plenty of activity options.
8. Let go. This is easier said than done, especially with the extended family all around, but try to relax! Vacations aren’t supposed to be work. After all, that’s what you’re trying to get away from. Instead of worrying about every teeny-tiny detail or feeling pressure to make sure that everyone is taken care of, let go and enjoy this precious time.
9. Cut costs. The ability to cut costs by receiving bulk discounts and splitting bills is one of the biggest benefits of an extended family vacation. Look for ways to make your trip budget-friendly by asking everyone to pitch in.
What are your favorite tips for vacationing with your whole family? Let us know on Twitter @BritandCo!
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