Creating a Family Reunion Budget

The whole family is on board with the idea of getting together for a big family reunion vacation. It’s agreed that vacationing together with kids, cousins, siblings and grandparents would be a fantastic idea.  That is...until somebody mentions that dreaded  "B" word...budget.  Then all the fun and games seem to go right out the window.

Most people don't like to talk about money yet having the "budget" discussion is imperative. First of all it's an important part of vacation planning 101. In addition, having a vacation budget will help keep you focused while shopping for your family reunion. It will allow you to make swift, informed decisions which can save you a great deal of money.  With everyone on the same page when it comes to budget discussions it will avoid misunderstandings, arguments and hurt feelings over money down the road.

A couple of specific group vacation planning 101 tips -

  • Pick a travel date and send everyone a "Save the vacation date" about 1 year in advance.  Planning ahead will give you the best availability and pricing.
  • During budget discussions, make sure everyone is prepared and ready to make the necessary accommodation deposits of between $100 - $250 per person generally.
  •  Flights are available about 9 months prior to departure.  Most airfares are non-refundable and must be paid in full to confirm your seats - so again, make sure everyone in your group is aware and ready for these monetary commitments. 

Any multi-generation trip means there will be folks traveling together at different life-stages of their lives trying to travel together. One family invited to the reunion may be very well off while other invited families don't share their income level of spending. This complicate matters when it comes to creating balance and keeping everyone happy.

The trick to achieving a successful balance and getting everyone to participate is to select one vacation that offers different levels of accommodations and as well as activities.

A family reunion cruise would be a great example of a vacation that has something to offer everyone.  For example Royal Caribbean offers everything from budget friendly inside cabins starting from $89 per person per night including all meals and shipboard entertainment.  On the same ship you can find Royal suites from $1200 per person/per night.  These two story penthouses come complete with a personal concierge called your Royal Genie.

Regardless of the stateroom price you paid for this Royal Caribbean cruise everyone can dine together in the main dining room and most specialty restaurants.  All the kids (and parents) can enjoy the complimentary kids clubs from ages 3-17, enjoy evening Broadway style entertainment every night and experience some of the most beautiful ports of call together in the world.

Being together on a cruise doesn't necessarily mean "joined at the hip".   Kids can enjoy zip lines and surf simulators on board while mom and grandma head off for a day at the spa.  Grandpa and the boys can take in a mixology class in the sports bar while Aunt Sue and some of the girls take cupcake decorating class.  In the afternoon everyone can plan to meet at the pool.  A cruise vacation is a great blend of independence and togetherness. Besides most ships are big enough so that you can enjoy plenty of fun while avoiding your one annoying in-law (it's ok...every family has one of these!).

When in port, there are also a wide selection of different types of sightseeing excursions to make everyone happy. Once again if you're an adrenalin junkie you can find that action while Grandma can enjoy a fun shopping trip with the girls.  if budget is of concern, do a walking tour of the pier, tour local areas on public transport or simply stay on board and have all the wonderful features of the ship all to yourself!

Larger All inclusive resort complexes in the Caribbean and Mexico can also offer a similar mix of accommodation choices and activities. Theme park destinations offer many of these options too. Just bear in mind the main focus of activities at a theme park is based around their rides and attractions.

A guided tour or a vacation home rental would be examples of reunion vacations that wouldn't work well for large reunion including folks with different budgets.  They work great for a smaller gathering or perhaps a multi-generational vacation shared with grandparents, kids and grand kids. They often do not offer the flexibility needed for larger gatherings.

With a guided tour there is the additional expense of that guide. In addition everyone is doing the exact same daily itinerary and staying in the exact same hotel. Hotels used for guides tours, for the most part, are a place to shower and sleep because the group keeps moving.  It's a different style hotel from one that will be your "home away from home" for an entire week.  

Speaking of vacation homes - when renting a house, generally the cost is divided equally between everyone and usually most rooms have the same level of comfort. it's rare to find a vacation home that would offer the both luxury and budget rooms under the same roof.  

You'll also want to insure that "everyone" gets a vacation - meaning one person doesn't get stuck doing all the cooking, cleaning, kid care and concierge activities (aka - mom).  If you factored all her work into that equation you wouldn't be able to afford her!

To make sure everyone has fun and remains on speaking terms after a family reunion, get professional help and speak to a travel agent.  A good travel agent knows tips and tricks to help make a reunion affordable and fun for the entire family.  They can take all the planning stress out of the equation (aka - off mom's shoulders). With proper planning a family reunion is something everyone will look forward to each and every year!

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