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Aside from our family cruises, our family has never done an international family vacation as a large group.  London was our first, and it has definitely taught us a lot about international travel as a [large] family. We learned there are things we should have done before leaving The States that would have helped use our time efficiently while in the U.K. They say hindsight is 20/20, right? And a blessing in every lesson, which means you get to benefit from our mistakes. So, we’ve compiled a list that will help make your trip planning easier, but also ensure your vacation runs smoothly.

Plan Ahead for your Family Vacation

As it states in Habakkuk 2:2 “Write the vision and make it plain…” Setting a plan and itinerary prior to leaving for your trip is crucial when traveling with a large group. This ensures everyone gets the most out of the time spent at a particular destination.

Do your research on things to do, dining options, getting around, etc. TripAdvisor is our best friend when it comes to researching places. You should also schedule any reservations necessary prior to your arrival to your destination because it is hard to be spontaneous with a group of 10 people. Trust us. It is better to have planned, a full itinerary with additional backup things to do than to be at a standstill for 30-minutes while on the road. It is not fun and can be a complete waste of time that can otherwise be spent doing something fun or seeing something new and exciting.

Split Up

When your family vacation consists of a large group, it is important to keep in mind that not everyone will want to do, see, and eat the same things. Split up! 

Figure out who wants to do/see what, and group together the people who have the same interests. Of course, kids, especially the smaller children should stay with their parents. No one gets left behind, and everyone gets to do and see what they want, and then people are not stuck doing things they do not want to do.

Be sure to agree on a meeting time and place before splitting up. We want everyone to return safely. It also helps to have at least one person in each group having a cell phone to communicate with everyone else.

Choose Practical Accommodations

Unless you are open to booking multiple rooms or spending thousands on high-end suites, it is almost impossible to find traditional hotel accommodations that allow occupancy for 10 or more people. For us, Airbnb worked. Everyone had their own space, we were able to cook when we wanted, and do laundry. Best of all, it was affordable.

Choosing practical accommodations for family vacations for large families matter.

Limit Dining Out on Family Vacations

Both my husband and I are foodies. One of the things we enjoy most when traveling is experiencing local cuisine; however, dining out can become costly while on a family vacation, especially with a large group. What worked for us was balancing dining out at restaurants with home-cooked meals.  We all chipped in to cook breakfast, dinner, whatever. We did not make all of those trips to the local Sainsbury’s for nothing.

For the smaller children, you should also pack snacks and water to drink. Usually, those things are priced more, especially in tourist areas. And since kids get cranky when they are hungry, having [healthy] snacking options helps to curb hunger.

Guided Tours

One of the best usages of our time during our family vacation to the U.K. were guided tours. The Black History Walk in Trafalgar Square and the Big Bus Tour in Paris allowed for us to use our time efficiently. We learned a great deal and saw a lot during both tours.

Make Time for your Spouse

Yes, family vacations are about spending time making memories with your family, but you should also plan to set aside some quality time for your spouse, especially if you are visiting somewhere for the first time.

This could be something as small as taking an early morning walk, grabbing breakfast and/or dinner, or even spending the night out. Just know that it is important to make time for yourselves as it can be a huge difference between having a relaxing, stress-free trip than not. Plus, being able to make new memories with your spouse in a new place is always pretty awesome.

Just remember that family vacations can be fun if things are planned out accordingly to meet the needs of everyone in the group as much as possible, and as much as the schedule allows. Remember, it is a vacation so go with the flow, explore and do something you have not done before, even if it is not something you do not think you would like because you just may end up loving it.

Armed with these tips, we hope your next family vacation is an enjoyable one.

What have your large family vacation experiences been like? Please share them along with any tips in the comments section below.


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Kim S.
Kim is the do-it-all mom (and wife) who not only works full-time and is a freelance makeup artist, but also blogs about her love of family, travel, beauty and skincare. Now that she has a kindergartener, Kim has added Class Parent to her resume. These are all tough jobs, but somehow, she makes them look easy.
  • We have never planned a big family vacation and I can just imagine how stressful it could be. These tips are great and I think they would help things go a lot smoother. Thanks for sharing.

  • Carissa

    Great Tips…we have talked about doing a big family vacation next year. If so I can’t wait to share these tips with everyone!!!

  • Brittany Marie

    Oh man! This brought me back! We used to take family vacations every summer when I was younger and it was a big family! A lot of fun and a lot of memories… not too many worries about money (on vacay) It was awesome… I wish we did it more now… Thank you for the tips!

    • What is keeping you from doing it more now?

  • Toni Wiggins-Sorzano

    Oh your trip sounds like it was awesome! These are great tips, especially the making time alone for spouse and self!

    • It was a good trip. We did something at least every day.

  • These are great tips. When we traveled as a family of 16 we decided what meals we would cook in advance and picked up those specific ingredients.

    We priced out activities so everyone had an idea on how they would cost and we could determine who wanted to do what.

  • KoKoa Magazine

    Perfect tips for traveling with a big family. It’s just me and my two kids but I still do a bunch of preplanning before we go.

    • My husband and I just have one. It’s rare we do anything big like this, but since this was our first time going and his first time returning “home” in a long time a lot of family came.

  • This was a sweet post. I think finding affordable and especially kid friendly accommodations is important when planning for a family.

    • Thank you. Yes! This house was a little over $300 per night for 11 days. Not bad at all.

  • This post really makes me want to move my blog to more travel related brand relationships. I’ve been worried about traveling with my daughters compromised health, but it’s better to live without fear.

    • I agree that it is better to live without fear. I say go for it!

  • babymeetscity

    Great suggestions — and these will come in handy as we’re going on vacation in a couple weeks!

    • Thank you! I really hope they are helpful. Where are you heading?

  • These all sound like great tips. I’ve yet to travel internationally so I’ll definitely keep this post in mind, especially the one about using AirBnB. Thanks for sharing.

    • Airbnb is a lifesaver. We’ve used them numerous times in the past. In fact, we are about to use one in a few weeks for our trip to Montreal.

  • Melissa Velazquez

    These sound like great tips. I’m all about the splitting up even when you have small groups!

    • Thank you. Splitting up, especially when people do not have the same goal in mind as far as things they want to do, is the best option.

  • gaynycdad

    Planning with that large a group cannot be easy! Your tips sound great. I know I have to plan, now that our son is 14, we have to include him in all planning, and that is something new, thanks for the reminder!

    • Thank you! It was far from easy. We survived. We learned, and my husband does not think we will do it again. I think I can do some convincing.