The Destination Vacation
Best for: Families that need a little extra motivation to get together or families who have trouble getting time off work and need the reunion to double as a vacation.
Pros: The base price will probably be lower than for a cruise or an all-inclusive resort. Families can tailor their accommodations or length of stay to their schedules and budgets.
Cons: More of the burden of planning activities rests on you. You’re on your own for meals.
Where to go: Look for a destination with a wealth of entertainment opportunities for all types of interests. Mack likes San Diego for its mix of family-friendly attractions (the zoo, Sea World), great year-round weather, beach activities, and fine dining. Even a resort that is not all-inclusive, like the Atlantis in Paradise Island (atlantis.com), in the Bahamas, can be a good compromise, since families can choose which features they want to shell out for ($179 a night per person for four nights; kids under 11 stay free). “Over the past few years, we have seen a marked change in the numbers of large family groups traveling together,” says Lauren Snyder, CMO, Atlantis, Paradise Island Resorts. “As a result, we’ve upgraded our connecting rooms and created a Family Olympics program for large groups, including events on the beach and trophies for the winning team.”
Other factors to consider: Choosing a location you can navigate on foot relieves a lot of the logistics and the expense tied to carpooling, parking, and arranging designated drivers. Wherever you stay, be sure to book accommodations that have large communal areas that people can gather in. For the best rates on multiple-room reservations, book through Groople.com, a group-travel site.
Dealing with downtime: Designate someone to bring along a portable DVD player or a laptop and several family-friendly movies for times when the adults are content to “just talk” and the kids are dying of boredom.
Organizing meals: Do research in advance to find local restaurants that are friendly to large groups, and make some reservations. You don’t want to be stuck in a strange city trying to find a table for 40 on a Friday night.