In my fifteen years with my husband, I have never once thought I would say this, but here goes…I am currently in the planning stages of a beach vacation with his family—a family with TWENTY immediate family members. In theory, experiencing new places and making new memories is what it’s all about. HOWEVER, you run a major risk of not enjoying yourself if you don’t plan appropriately.
My Top Tips for Traveling with a Large Group of People
Just meet there.
This one is easy for our family because we’re coming from three different cities. There is no expectation that we need to meet up and all be ready at the same time to set off on our adventure. I feel way more comfortable traveling on the schedule of three people instead of twenty. We are headed to Florida for our big group trip; some of us are driving, some are flying, but we are all getting there at different times and that is OKAY!
Opt for a place with a kitchen.
This is imperative for any trip I have gone on with big groups—family trips, trips with kids, trips with friends and no kids, it doesn’t matter. Having a place for snacks, breakfast, drinks, even lunches and dinners if you aren’t dining out is such a life saver. Our group is staying at a resort and splitting into condos with full kitchens. This will enable us to have breakfast and prepare snacks and lunches throughout the day. Twenty people going out to eat for every meal is expensive AND hectic. Do yourself a favor and a book place with a kitchen for some quick and simple food prep.
Split up the responsibilities.
With twenty people comes twenty different preferences, tastes, opinions, etc. If you feel strongly about something, then volunteer to be in charge of that item. A small example for our upcoming trip is dinner preparation: My mother-in-law is the ultimate homemaker, and she makes Sunday lunch every single Sunday for her entire family, but (God bless her) she has a pretty standard rotation of meals. Several of us don’t want her to have to cook every meal and also desire a bit of variety, so we all “signed up” for a night or two on the trip to plan, buy, and prepare dinner for the entire group. This was great for me because I LOVE seafood when I’m on a coast, and now I get to ensure that I can have at least one seafood meal while on my beach vacation.
Everyone doesn’t have to do everything together at the same time.
I don’t want to call my MIL out twice in one post, but this is extremely hard for her to digest and understand. It is simply too hard to expect twenty people to do everything together every day on a trip. I’m an early riser, and I like to be active during the beginning of the day. Others like to wake slowly and take their time getting ready. If I were to wait around for everyone to be ready to be active, it could be hours after I was ready to go. This is such a handcuffed feeling and definitely not the way that I want to spend a vacation for which I am paying. Set the expectation early that there is no expectation. Someone wants to go to the aquarium? That person needs to make the plan and let everyone know what day and time to be ready. Another wants to go deep sea fishing? Throw it out there and whoever wants to can go, but there’s otherwise no pressure to participate. Be cognizant that this is a vacation for each person, and they get to do what they want on their own vacation.
Remember the excitement that you felt planning the trip? Carry that feeling through it all! If you need to recoup with some alone time and enjoy a few quiet moments, then take that for yourself. Don’t let the pressures and chaos of traveling with a large group overshadow the reason you are there. You are there to make memories and have new experiences with the people you love. Enjoy yourself and your time in a new place. Do what will fulfill you and make this a great trip for you. Don’t get overwhelmed with little things. Twenty people are loud, and the situation can feel in disarray at times. Take the time to get back in a good headspace and get back to enjoying your people and your VACATION!