vacaypalsPlanning a multi family vacation with friends, neighbors or family members can be a great, low stress way to get away with kids. But it’s also a scenario that can go downhill fast if you don’t think (and plan) it through.  Bad vacations have been known to wreck relationships. The effects can continue well past the time away.  You don’t want your vacation to turn into a total nightmare. So we have compiled this  list of considerations that you might want to check out before you book your ticket. We wish you good times and smooth sailing!

1. Consider disciplinary differences. Does the idea of your children flinging spaghetti across a restaurant cause you little stress? Are you offended when someone else tells your precious snowflake to quit flinging spaghetti? Does the site of children flinging spaghetti make you break out in a cold sweat and consider spanking? It’s important to consider these things before you hit the road. If you know your family’s “style” is radically different from that of the other family’s, it might be a good idea to set up group standards for behavior and discipline before you travel.

2. Consider space requirements, and that of others. Cramped families are unhappy families.

3. Bedtimes and mealtimes matter. Are you adamant about sticking as close as possible to your home schedule when you travel? Do you adhere to a strict no junk food policy at home and on the road? Or do all rules fly out the window when you hit the road? A quick discussion about the road rules for dining, napping, and bedtimes can go a long way towards group harmony.

4. Consider your childcare needs and expectations for adult time. Are you hoping to get some grown-up time during your trip? A night out as a group or with your partner? Have a chat with everyone involved about your wishes and expectations and the possibility of hiring a sitter or taking turns getting out and staying in.

5. Share and Share Alike? Are your kids toys and snacks for their use and their use alone? Or are you ok with throwing all the toys and snacks in the center of the room, community style? Sharing considerations are not just for kids.  Will meals be eaten family style? Who will do the cooking or shopping? How will you split the bills at the grocery store or in the restaurant? Sharing can be a problem when it comes to dining as well. Are you a germaphobe with friends who like to share each other’s drinks?

6. What’s your family rating? G? PG? R? It’s a funny thing to consider, but less funny when your four year old comes home from vacation with a new vocabulary of four letter words you’d hoped not to encounter at such a tender age. If no one in your family smokes or drinks, your kids have never seen a movie that wasn’t Disney and you abhor swear words, you’ll probably be miserable camping out with an R-rated family that watches Texas Chainsaw Massacre 10 with their toddlers whilst enjoying a brewski and a smoke.

7. What’s your idea of fun? Some families consider a day working on a farm, cooking organic produce and sleeping in a tent, a lot of fun. Others consider it unpaid labor. If your family likes to rock climb and your friends like to pig out on junk food and see a double feature, you may not be vacation compatible. Best to know this before you get to your destination.

Group family travel can be tense, but it can also be a wonderful thing. With the right travel companions you’ll never run out of conversation, the kids will never get bored because they are without playmates and everything is more fun, because you are doing it with friends. Make the most of your multi-family travel experience by ensuring your travelmates are compatible, and have a great time!