Let me start by saying that this post is from the perspective of a woman with adult siblings with families. The information may be applicable to any family (young or old) or even a group of friends, but is particularly relevant for large family gatherings with lots of opinions, schedules, and ages to accommodate. Now, let me set the stage. My mother-in-law mentioned she and her husband wanted to arrange a family vacation for all of her children and their families. My husband has three younger siblings, two of whom have young children. My MIL was having trouble getting started to put the family vacation in motion, so I decided to lend a hand. Researching, planning and presenting are basically my favorite things, so here’s a what I did.
Establish the search. Where my MIL got stuck was at the very beginning – where to go. This can be a difficult question for many. But it’s easy when you start with a couple key parameters:
- Do you have any travel restrictions? (within driving distance, domestic-only, flights under $x)
- What’s your target environment? (hot, cold, beach, adventure, cultural, city, country, time of year, etc.)
- What activities are you looking to do? (relaxing, sight-seeing, water activities, etc.)
Do some research. This doesn’t have to be a TON at this stage, but I like to look up a couple of suitable lodging options, a list of activities, and at least one picture. I put all of this into a themed template in Microsoft Powerpoint. (If you don’t have a Microsoft Office suite, you can download a great tool called Open Office that is completely free and features a lot of the same functionality offered by Microsoft products.) For graphic designers, this is probably elementary, but for the average person, this looks pretty slick. I usually make an intro page and a few additional pages to detail out each option. See example below:
Get everyone on the same page. If you have a lot of people in the decision making process, it can make things tough. However, if you’re family is anything like mine, you’ve got different schedules to contend with, so it’s important to get input. What I have found to be particularly helpful at this stage is to create a super simple online survey. You can use a simple free tool like Survey Monkey and create a survey in under 5 minutes to send to your family alongside your presentation of options to collect their feedback. This is the survey I put together to collect some key pieces of information for our family getaway:
Make a decision. Now that you’re armed with everyone’s preferences, deal-breakers, and best availability, you can finalize when and where you’re going and start making your plans!
To learn about the next steps to Large Group Getaway Planning: Getting Started, read Large Group Getaway Planning: Book It.
For a related post about how I pitch vacations to my husband to get a yes response every time, check out my 360 Guide to Planning a Getaway.