“You Should Come With Us!” How to Vacation With Other Families

By April Tisher

I grew up going on multi-family vacations, and those trips are some of my fondest childhood memories. Although the point of family vacations is to spend quality time together as a family, it is also fun to add friends to the mix! Multi-family vacations take some careful planning and coordination, but it can mean great times for both the adults and children if done right!

We have spent several fun weeks at our family’s beach house with other families. Last winter my family rented a mountain house with another family and took six Florida children skiing for the first time. These trips were a success, but not all families are compatible to travel together and certainly not to spend nights under the same roof.

Rule No. 1 is to make sure you think things through and talk with your spouse and children first about inviting other people along. You don’t want to get their blood pressure boiling!  You may love spending time with your best mom friend in the world, but if your children don’t have anything in common and spend the whole time bickering and tattling on each other, nobody will have any fun. It’s also important to be mindful of the type of vacation you are planning as well. If you are going to the beach and invite a family of children who can’t swim and are terrified of the ocean, you might be in trouble.

Some families have very specific ideas about sleeping arrangements, dietary restrictions and rules. Others are pretty laissez-faire. These are major key factors to discuss with the other family prior to making reservations. It alsohelps if your children are close in age, but it isn’t a deal breaker if they are not. As long as they have been able to play and have fun together, age and gender don’t have to be sticking points.

Sleeping Arrangements

Some children go to bed early, even on vacation, while others don’t. If children are going to be sleeping in a shared space or common area, this might pose a problem, especially if some of the children need to go to sleep at 7:30 p.m. and the rest of the group is planning to stay up. Talk about this and decide who will sleep where and if any air mattresses or sleeping bags need to be brought along.


What and when to eat is a major part of vacations. Assuming you are staying somewhere that you can bring your own food and cook, come up with a dinner schedule before leaving town. Usually we decide what meals we want to eat out and divide up the rest between the two families. I find it is much easier to eat breakfast at “home” and buy lunch supplies that can be taken along. Of course there will be days when returning to the home base for lunch isn’t feasible, but keeping sandwich ingredients on hand and breakfast staples will make it easier to keep everyone fed. I like to go to the grocery store as soon as we arrive, but it is nice to coordinate with the other family to avoid overbuying and duplicating items. It’s also nice to communicate any dietary restrictions. My older son has a severe peanut allergy, so it’s important that those traveling with us are aware and don’t bring them into the house.


This is the point of vacations, but agreeing on major activities is important. It is nice to do things together, but don’t be afraid to split up into groups according to interest as well. The boys might want to play golf while the girls shop for an afternoon.


Come up with a fun tradition you do every trip. Whether it’s a big crab boil the last night at the beach, s’mores by the fireplace or getting pizza from a local spot, find something that you will remember “always doing” when on vacation together. I promise your kids will never forget!



This can be just a day trip or an overnight trip where you share accommodations with another family. The beach is one of those places where kids and adults alike are happy for hours. Kids of all ages can play at the beach, and there are endless activities to do. The key is to pack plenty to eat and drink and a lo t of sunscreen. When you run out of food or drink or the kids s tart to get sunburned, the day is done.


You can replicate the same fun you have at the beach at one o f the many springs or lakes around town. Adding boats to the lake or ocean trips is also great for multi-family trips. Kids love scalloping, fishing, tubing and the like. Be sure you have life jackets for all boaters!


You can be in the Georgia or North Carolina mountains in a day’s drive. This can be a great trip for summer or winter months. Like the beach, skiing, sledding and making snowmen are ageless fun activities! During the warmer months, families can enjoy the cooler temps and lower humidity while hiking trails, whitewater rafting and mining for gems.


We are lucky to have so many options for theme parks close by. Pick a park ahead of time and buy your tickets before heading to the gate. It’s also a good idea to plan what you want to do for meals before getting there.


If you can score tickets to a Gator game or to see the Rays play in Tampa, this can be a lot of fun for family and friends to do together. Just making the drive flying team flags from the car gets the kids ex cited. Bring tailgate supplies or stop somewhere local to eat.


Disney on Ice, a traveling Broadway-style show or even a concert is a great reason for families to travel together!