Groups and Vacations

by Kay Lynn

Miami - South Beach: Colony Hotel

Daniel at Sweating the Big Stuff recently took a vacation with a group of friends.  He posted that one of the group cancelled resulting in everyone having to pay 33% more for lodging.  It didn’t change his plans but did change the budget. 

It got me thinking about the perils of vacationing with more than your immediate family.  I’ve had a situation similar to Daniels with the same result. We all paid more. 

Here’s some tips on how to avoid this in the future although nothing is fool-proof.

Be Choosy About Companions

Make sure you’re going with like-minded individuals in terms of likes and spending philosophy.  My husband would be fine at Motel 6. Although I don’t have anything against the chain, I’m a 3 star or better gal.

You also want to make sure you’re vacation style is compatible.  Are you someone who wants to visit historical sites or lay on the beach?  Pick someone who you can enjoy things together and enjoy time apart pursuing separate interests.

Plan the Budget

Discuss the vacation budget ahead of time and come to an agreement on how much to spend for shared categories before spending any money.  An important item to discuss is what is some one’s share even if they cancel.  When it’s time to pay or make a deposit let everyone know what they have to pay no matter what.

Decide what will be shared expenses.  Is it just the lodging or will the group share meals?  My extended family rented a beautiful 5-bedroom home in Orlando successfully but we couldn’t agree on pizza.  The group shared breakfast and snack foods and ate dinner out on our own.

Be Flexible

Vacationing with a group will test your patience at times as you adjust to living with new people and their habits.  Remember you have quirks too!  Overlook bad moods and harsh words as new situations are sometimes stressful. 

Don’t worry about splitting every bill to the penny or having your favorite pizza toppings.  Compromise will let you all return with good memories and friendships intact.

My family group has vacationed several times together after the Orlando house deal and each time gets better.  The group size changes depending on people’s schedules and plans but we always have fun.

Have you taken group vacations and if so, what tips would you suggest?

photo credit: wallyg 

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Dr Dean May 28, 2010 at 6:23 am

We have traveled to Costa Rica with big groups as we own a rental property there. (yes, shameless promotion-but it does fit the topic:)

Your points are great regarding compromise. As host’s we usually lay out our plans and schedule, and then remind everyone it is their vacation-so they are free to make their own plans. Most people appreciate a little structure, as long as it is not binding. Especially when they are traveling in an unfamiliar area.

If you try to force a schedule, you get the prompt clock watchers, fighting the always late couples. That is no fun to watch.

As to the finances, always collect ahead and be frank regarding when refunds are available-or not..
.-= Dr Dean´s last blog ..Priorities: Do We Put Our Time Where Our Mouth Is? =-.

Bucksome May 30, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Dr. Dean, your rental homes are beautiful! I’ve been to Costa Rica once on a cruise ship stop (Puntarenas) and love the country. Thanks for the tip to have a loose schedule and collecting ahead of time.

Jeff @ sustainablelifeblog May 28, 2010 at 6:58 am

I think one of the most important things when traveling with a group is to be clear of what’s expected of everyone going. When I went, we all paid for 1 group dinner each night (there were an even number of people v nights) and that was that. We all chose a similar cost place to eat, so there were to be no hard feelings if someone’s bill was slightly more or less than the other person.
That helped a lot.

Bucksome May 30, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Jeff, that’s an interesting idea to rotate the dinner host each night. That sounds a lot easier than going through the exercise of splitting a bill every time.

Jersey Mom May 29, 2010 at 4:37 am

The only time we nearly went with other close relatives was a trip to Alaska. However, 1/2 year before that trip, my mother fell ill and all of us decided not to go since she couldn’t go. I still haven’t made it to Alaska yet.
.-= Jersey Mom´s last blog ..Addition to the House Rules =-.

Bucksome May 30, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Jersey Mom, the first time my husband and I had booked a trip to Alaska we were going with my mom and grandmother and his parents. Six months before leaving, my grandmother died and his mom had a heart attack. Everyone dropped out of that trip.

We found another deal later and did make it. You’ll love it when you get there (and I know you will)!

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