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Tips for Traveling with Extended Family

family on the beach
Allianz - family on the beach

Sharing a beach house with your cousins. Getting the whole family together for a week at a Wyoming ranch. Going to Disney World with the grandparents. It sounds like an ideal family vacation - until the beach house is trashed, no one wants to cook dinner and the kids are Mickeyed out. If you're planning a multigenerational vacation, consider these travel tips when vacationing with extended family.

1. Discuss ahead of time who's paying for what

Unless you're lucky enough to have a grandmother with a beach house, big family vacations are expensive. Make sure early on that everyone's clear on how the expenses will be divided. If the parents or grandparents are paying for the trip, show your appreciation by taking them out to eat or buying them a special gift. If you're the one generously footing the bill, you must spell out exactly what you're willing to pay for: the airfare, for instance, but not the admission to a theme park.

2. Assign chores

Often on a multigenerational vacation, people fall into their traditional roles: Grandma sweeps the porch, Uncle Bill mans the grill, and the kids (who are old enough to know better) leave the dishes for Mom to wash up. Just because it's a vacation, that doesn't mean there's no work to do. Make a list of what needs to be done each day and divide the responsibilities equally.

3. Let teenagers have a say

This great tip comes from an expert on family vacations: Dennis Dinsberger, whose family has traveled 7 million miles together. If you want to avoid having tuned-out, surly teenage travel companions, let them be in charge of decisions like what to see on a particular day or what to have for dinner. Don't insist they participate in every family activity, either, but let them have alone time.

4. Build in plenty of "me time"

This tip from the United States Tour Operators Association is key. No matter how close a family may be, it's a sure bet that everyone doesn't want to spend every minute together. Some people may want to relax on the deck with a book while others want to go hang-gliding, and that's OK. Set a time each day when everyone can rejoin the group and enjoy family time.

5. Don't make the extended-family vacation an ironclad ritual

Multigenerational vacations create priceless memories. But gratitude for a fun trip can turn to resentment when the organizers expect everyone to repeat the experience every year. If the big family vacation becomes a tradition, great - but it may make more sense to do it every other year, or to change the destination to be convenient for different members of the family.

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