Vacations offer a break from the daily grind while giving us time and space to connect with the people we love. Sometimes that means kids, grandparents, and everyone in between. A trip that includes family members or friends of all ages can be a great bonding experience. But you’ll need to keep a few things in mind when planning where to go and what to do.
For starters, vacationing with any type of group (friends, family, or work colleagues) can present budgeting challenges. While one person’s budget may be nearly unlimited, another’s might be fairly tight. When you start perusing lodging, dining, and activity options, you’ll need to keep everyone’s budgets in mind.
With large age differences in your group, chances are also good that not everyone will always agree on activities. Grandma might love spending her days lazing on the beach, while the younger ones might yearn for sports. Some types of travel make it easier to satisfy everyone’s desires. Before you pick your next destination for a multigenerational getaway, consider some of these easy, affordable options. (See also: How to Save Money on Travel With an Awesome Group Vacation)
Cruises offer a somewhat affordable way to fashion a group trip with everyone’s tastes in mind. You can opt for a cruise to the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, or Alaska, just to name a few destinations. The best part is, the majority of cruises offer onboard entertainment to please everyone, including nightly shows, bingo and casinos, and pools with waterslides. (See also: Best Credit Cards for Cruises)
Accommodating different sized pocketbooks is simplified, too, because everyone gets (mostly) the same thing for a single all-inclusive price. Since food and nonalcoholic beverages are included onboard, you won’t have to worry about different budget constraints. And if someone wants to spend on pricey excursions, they can do so without getting everyone else involved.
It’s also worth noting that some cruise lines offer family cabins that make bringing extra people along a breeze. With MSC Cruises, for example, you can book a “super family” suite that sleeps up to six. Even better, kids ages 11 and under cruise for free on many itineraries, including most in the Caribbean. (See also: Most Affordable Cruise Lines for Families)
2. All-inclusive resorts
All-inclusive resorts offer yet another one-stop-shop for families who want to vacation together without haggling over bills. With an all-inclusive resort, all of your food, drinks (including alcohol), and entertainment are included for a single price. That means everyone in your party can drink and dine to their heart’s content without worrying about their budget. (See also: Family-Friendly Hotel and Resort Chains Where Kids Stay Free)
Keep in mind, however, that all-inclusive pricing runs the gamut from budget to luxury. You’ll need to gauge everyone’s spending limit before you pick a resort, or you risk not everyone being able to afford it. (See also: 11 Ways to Get the Most Value From Your All-Inclusive Vacation)
It’s also worth noting that some all-inclusive resorts are better for large groups since they go beyond the basic dual occupancy room and offer lodging such as multiroom villas or adjoining rooms. Generations Riviera Maya, for example, offers deluxe two-bedroom and three-bedroom suites big enough to hold six adults and six kids.
3. Rent a large apartment or condo
Vacation property rentals aren’t just for parents who don’t want to room with their kids. They also work well for larger groups and multigenerational families who need some extra space. With short-term rental sites like Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway, you can rent a condo or a home of nearly any size and in any destination around the globe, and often for less than you’d pay for a hotel.
Let’s say you’re taking your spouse, your two children, and your parents to Disney World in Orlando for a week. You could book separate hotel rooms for $100+ per night each, or you could pay about that amount for a multi-bedroom private home. For example, you can find plenty of three-bedroom condos near Disney World for as little as $99 per night through VRBO.
With your own kitchen, you can also save a bundle by preparing your own meals at “home.”
4. Train travel
Who said train travel was dead? These days, you can book all kinds of family trips around the country through Amtrak.
While train travel might sound stuffy and uncomfortable, a renewed interest in this form of travel has brought about new amenities and perks for families. For starters, most overnight trains feature dining cars that serve three meals per day. You can also reserve rooms that sleep up to four.
There are a ton of options available to suit nearly any travel style or goal. For example, Amtrak offers vacation packages for destinations like the Grand Canyon, Glacier National Park, and Niagara Falls, as well as popular cities such as New York and San Francisco.
Prices are fairly affordable, too. For example, you can book a six-day Grand Canyon getaway with round-trip train travel from Chicago, three nights in a hotel, two meals, and a train tour of the canyon starting at $1,009 per person. (See also: 7 Affordable Family Getaways When You Don’t Have a Vacation Fund)
5. Family campgrounds
Another no-nonsense family vacation concept is one that’s been around forever: camping. Depending on where you live, it may be possible to find a campground that accommodates your family group, either separately in tents or in cabins or campers. (See also: Easy Ways to Save on Your Next RV Camping Trip)
The best part about camping in groups is that you can all prepare your own separate tents and sleeping arrangements, then gather together for games or meals. If you need some extra space, you can even book your own camping spot away from the group.
Meal prep is also easy when you’re traveling with a group. Different people can prepare their own meals to bring along, or you can pitch in for group meals by having everyone bring a dish or two to share. (See also: Camping for a Week Is Only $160 at These National Parks)
While camping is inherently frugal, the price you’ll pay to secure your spot can vary dramatically across the country. Before you choose a campground for a group trip, make sure to shop around for rates and compare amenities and “extras” like pools and water parks. Some camping spots are chock full of activities like mini-golf, swimming, fishing, and water sports, but others focus on maintaining their connection to nature. The best campground for your family trip is one that’s tranquil enough for nature-lovers but busy enough to keep everyone happy.