When it comes to vacation time, everyone gets excited. Looking forward to the sandy beach, mountain retreat, or theme park excitement. Getting there is half the fun or half the battle depending on your outlook. Traveling with a family, more specifically a large family is a challenge, but with some planning and forethought it does not have to be mission impossible.
Plan your method of travel carefully. Many people might turn their nose at the idea of driving great distance to reach your destination, but that can make for one of the memorable parts of the trip. Financially it makes sense over flying. With airline prices averaging between 300-400 dollars, a large family of 6-8 can end up spending 1800-3200 dollars just on airfare. Compare this with gas, even hovering around 4 dollars per gallon, and you’re coming out ahead. The advantage to flight of course is that you are at your destination quicker, but with a different mindset, turn the travel into part of the vacation versus getting to your vacation. With GPS technology and online tools, it is quite simple to find places of interest along the way and see this country close up.
Lodging becomes another issue when planning a trip for a larger family. Most hotels cater to the average American family of 4. The options beyond that turn into paying for two rooms or getting a suite. There are many hotels that have rooms for 6 and a few that offer rooms for 8. A great resource is www.sixsuitcasetravel.com. This website offers ideas and search engines for big a family accommodations worldwide. Condos and cabin set ups can work as well. I would like to talk about the idea of paying for two rooms. Most, if not all hotels will frown upon you to just buy one room to cram as many people in as you can. I have to be honest and say I have done this in a pinch, but would not recommend it. It is dishonest for one, and a fire hazard. Plus if your mass hoarding of kids is discovered, you’re likely to be asked to leave or forced to pay for another room anyway. Paying for two rooms can work. Of course it doubles your expense, but with the right hotel it might work. When booking two rooms be sure to ask for “connecting” rooms. These are rooms that have an interior door connecting the two rooms. This is different than “adjoining” rooms which are just next door. My family learned this the hard way at Disney World in 2004.
Consider the time you are traveling as well to have the best possible experience. School vacations are always the busiest time for most destination spots. I can’t really condone missing a lot of school for kids, but I can get with the idea of missing some school to have a great, non crowded vacation. The time with family is crucially important, and it can become a very real education experience. It can really make a difference financially as well. For instance, beach houses in New Jersey drop in price by over a third after Labor Day. The weather along the Jersey shore is good beach weather well into mid –end September. That leaves some opportunity for having these beautiful beaches essentially to yourself. I’d say that timing is even more important when planning a trip to major theme parks like Disney World. Use of a travel agent can be very helpful, especially with Disney.
Vacations can be a most memorable experience and getting there really is half the fun. Make sure to take the time ahead to consider all the options and do some master preparation.