Vacationing as a Family—of Adults
Vacationing as a family of adults has many perks: it’s the perfect way to pull the family together if everyone isn’t able to make it home for traditional holidays, meals and activities aren’t restricted by kids’ needs (you can enjoy local wine together!), and you can break off in smaller groups to pursue individual interests.
If everyone in the family is open to exploring the idea of a family vacation as adults, start the planning process with clear communication, flexibility, honesty when it comes to budget, and patience.
With that in mind, here are ways to handle the five components of travel when planning an adult family vacation.
If you’re flying to the destination, the earlier you look at flights, the better chance you have of grabbing seats and prices that work for everyone. If you’re the parent, perhaps you can help pay for this large part of the travel budget or offer to gift travel miles to ensure everyone can afford to travel to the destination.
Another option might be for everyone to drive.
In either scenario, it’s best to have at least two cars to use during your vacation. Even if you could fit everyone into one SUV, it would limit your activity options if smaller groups want to split up for part of a day.
Consider booking an entire house, cabin, condo, or villa on a site like AirBnB, VRBO, or Homeaway. This gives you the option of cooking some meals, offers more community spaces to enjoy together, and will usually be cheaper than booking individual hotel rooms.
These days you can usually find a variety of rentals across budgets and locations. You can stay in the heart of the city if you want to use public transportation and enjoy big city entertainment. But you can just as easily find listings for homes on a lake or near a National Park with options for outdoor recreation.
Traveling with all adults means no one has to settle for restaurants with kid menus, early mealtimes, or the burden of cooking for multiple pallets. And if you do cook in your accommodation, you can easily rotate the planning, cooking, and clean-up responsibilities.
It’s important to talk about priorities and interests early in the planning process. Find out who’s interested in physical or outdoor adventures, cultural immersion, fine dining, shopping, and nightlife. There are many locations and activities to keep everyone aged 18 and up entertained!
Ask if family members would like to be in charge of coordinating activities they’re passionate about. The family foodie might want to curate a list of top restaurant options or arrange a wine tasting; your resident photographer could research a beautiful walk or site-seeing tour. Make sure everyone feels listened to and excited about at least one activity.
That said, avoid insisting everyone do everything. Some family members may need a rest day while another group goes white water rafting. It can be a family vacation without every activity including every person. And speaking of rest days, build purposeful down time into your schedule. This will help you avoid burnout and give you the flexibility and time to pursue spontaneous inspiration.
While last on the list, the vacation budget is actually one of the first topics to tackle during the planning stage. If members of the group aren’t honest about their personal budget limits and what they want to do and see, it will lead to tension, indecisiveness, poor planning, missed opportunities, and ultimately resentment.
Are the parents covering airfare or accommodation costs? Is everyone on their own for meals, or just breakfast and lunch? What about excursions? The earlier you start this discussion, the longer everyone has to save. And it will help you avoid costs that perhaps not everyone can afford or thinks are worth it.