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Covacations – Tips for Planning a Vacation with Another Family

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Looking to change up your usual family vacation? A vacation with another family could be just the solution for many reasons. Covacations mean multiplying the fun; kids are thrilled to have playmates and adults can socialize with other adults. Also, you may be able to take advantage of large group travel discounts. Traveling couples can even trade-off babysitting duties to allow for date night while away from home. Even with all of these benefits, there’s always a chance things could go very wrong. Here are four covacation tips that will help ensure a successful multi-family trip.

Tips for planning a vacation with another family

Vacations are more fun with friends! (Photo credit: Lisa Goodmurphy)

1. Choose a compatible family.

The most important factor in having a successful vacation is choosing compatible travel companions. Before broaching the possibility of a joint vacation with other families you should ask yourself a few questions. Are the children close to the same age? Do the parents enjoy each other’s company? Do the families have similar interests? If your family enjoys vacationing at luxury hotels and Junior’s best friend’s family prefers to pitch a tent in the woods, then vacationing together might not be the best choice.

2. Discuss, discuss, discuss.

It is essential to have planning meetings to thoroughly discuss the trip and reach a consensus on as many of the details as possible prior to a multi-family vacation. The key to a successful vacation is for everyone involved to communicate during the planning stage and not make any assumptions. The more that has been discussed beforehand, the less chance there will be conflict during the vacation. Even if one parent or family is taking the lead on making arrangements, it is important to obtain agreement from all other parties before finalizing anything.

Reaching consensus is especially important when it comes to the vacation budget. Make certain everyone is comfortable upfront with vacation costs. Determine how expenses will be shared in order to avoid issues later. For example, if two families are renting a five bedroom vacation home and one family will be using three of the bedrooms then will the two families split the cost 50:50 or will one family pay a greater share?

Other items that should be discussed ahead of time include the destination or type of vacation (resort, cruise, vacation rental), activities and meals. Will everyone generally dine together or apart? If you rent a vacation home, who will be responsible for buying groceries, preparing meals and cleaning up afterwards?

London British Museum

Sightseeing in London with friends (Photo credit: Lisa Goodmurphy)

3. Don’t do everything together.

Vacationing together doesn’t mean that every minute of every day has to be spent together. In fact, vacationers are more likely to get along well if there is time spent apart. There’s bound to be conflict if everyone is in each other’s face all the time so it’s important when choosing accommodations to ensure that it’s possible to get away from the others. Separate hotel rooms or staterooms on a cruise ship work well. When sharing a vacation home, make sure to choose a place large enough to comfortably accommodate everyone. Adequate outdoor space also helps family members to spread out and get away from one another whenever necessary.

Sometimes being together 24/7 is just too much of a good thing, even for the best of friends. It’s always a good idea to split up for activities from time to time so that everyone can pursue their own interests. It’s particularly easy to do this when vacationing at a theme park, a large resort or on a cruise, but it’s possible to plan some time apart on any type of vacation.

Canada Manitoulin Island Lake Huron kids

Cousins can hang out together on a covacation with extended family

4. Be flexible.

Flexibility is the most important factor in enjoying a successful vacation with other families. Be prepared to try new activities and foods, and adjust your standard vacation schedule. It’s not the end of the world if your kids have a later (or earlier) bedtime or eat a few more sweets than usual. Focus on fun and let the rest go!

Has your family ever embarked on a vacation with another family? How’d it go? Let us know your tips for covacations in the comments below?

About Lisa Goodmurphy, The Spunky Travel Mama

Lisa Goodmurphy is a lawyer turned family travel writer and a mom of two daughters. She grew up in small town Northern Ontario and now resides near Toronto, Canada. Badly bitten by the travel bug years ago, she considers herself fortunate that her family is equally enthusiastic about her mission to explore the world—one trip at a time. Lisa shares her travel adventures on the blog that she founded in 2011 and now contributes to many online media publications as well. You can read about her family’s travels on her blog, Gone with the Family, on Google+ or on Twitter as @GoneWithFamily.

  1. Claudia Laroye says

    Such great advice, Lisa! We’ve done many co-vacations with family friends over the years. Some we’ve repeated 10+ running, and others, well, we won’t do again. The choice of compatible family is SO key. Unfortunately, sometimes you figure out that you’re not so compatible while you’re on that vacation! But hey, that’s part of the adventure too.

  2. Lee @ says

    Great points to think about when planning a vacation with another family. We’ve been lucky so far in the families that we’ve traveled with. We generally only do weekends and overnights with other families, but we’ll be doing a full week in Orlando with another family at our timeshare in a couple of months. Definitely the right thing to know that you don’t always have to do everything together just because you’re sleeping under the same roof!

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