Your people, clan, team, bloodline – your family. The people who come first in your life, maybe even before yourself. They’re the people you go on vacation with or the people you call daily when you’re on vacation with friends. And occasionally family is the reason why you need a vacation. But every few years there’s a magical time when you all head to a getaway together – the family reunion. It’s a time to catch up, to really check in with everyone (because texting only half counts), to slow down and enjoy each other’s company.
Sounds like a relaxing and much-needed break, right? And it is, minus finding the one weekend everyone can make it, learning that someone is on a celery-juice-only cleanse, Aunt Shelly proclaiming she’s bringing a new “friend,” and your sister’s kids will be bringing three friends. Each. So some of it may be a headache. But with some careful planning (and starting early) your family reunion can go off without a hitch. Here are eight tips to make this the best family reunion yet.
1. Start Early
This rule applies to basically every type of travel advice we can offer. The sooner you start planning (or letting us help out!) the smoother things will go. Coordinating schedules is perhaps the most important part of a family reunion to ensure the most family members possible can make it. We’re talking like a year in advance planning the date. Families with kids in school, family members with work schedules that are tricky to take vacation time, and grandparents who hang out in a snowbird location for half of the year – these are all reasons to plan as early in advance as possible.
2. Open a communication channel
Send out feelers to everyone and see what people are interested in, what dates may need to be blacked out due to previous engagements, and who wants to help be involved in the planning. After all, putting a big event together can be tough alone, but can also be a great opportunity to communicate more with those you love when you work together on a common goal.
Platforms like Facebook messenger, a group text or Google Hangouts will make communication between everyone invited smooth and consolidated into one location.
3. Consider location carefully
When considering a perfect location for a family reunion, try scanning your memory for highlights. Was there perhaps a beloved childhood park that everyone came to for birthday parties years ago? A seaside town where the family would vacation every summer when you were young? Locations that spark memories are great destinations for family gatherings because they help to bring back the nostalgia that is such a wonderful benefit of taking the time to spend with family.
Alternatively, your family reunion could revolve around a common shared activity. A calm lakeside is great for kids who love to swim and grandparents who love to spend slow mornings watching the mist rise from the lake. Or perhaps half of your family has a Mexico beach all-inclusive vacation on their bucket list. This could be the perfect venue for a family reunion.
4. Consider timing
Like any vacation or get-together, the timing is an essential part of the plan. Family reunions often happen during the summer months when school is out and the weather is nice. Alternatively, you could look into a reunion over Christmas or New Year, or over spring break since school will be out then, as well. These times are slightly more popular for vacations, making advanced planning even more important.
Your family reunion might also benefit from being centered around a special day for your family like an important anniversary, a birthday, or welcoming in a new family member.
If you’re looking for the best deal on accommodations and flights, the offseasons will be your best bet. Within the United States, those are typically mid-January until spring break, and between spring break and early June.
If you’re looking for some destination inspiration, check out our guide to the top vacation destinations by month.
5. Establish the type of accommodation desired
Every family has different preferences. Camping is the best it gets for some families, while others would actually rather try to sleep in an economy seat on a low-cost carrier than sleep outside in a tent.
It’s good to get a feel for what you’re family is comfortable with before planning. Maybe there’s no way half of the family will show up for anything less than four-star accommodations. Maybe everyone wants to change things up and rent a whole village of yurts? This could be a great time to look into unconventional accommodations. Get a feel (early on) for what people need to feel comfortable and ready to spend quality time together. This can be done easily over your family reunion communication channel. Nobody wants uncle Ted unhappy because there is no air conditioning in his room.
6. Consider all-inclusive
If you’re looking for ultimate ease, relaxation, and entertainment for everyone, all-inclusive might be the way to go. Not only does this solve everyone’s dietary desires, most all-inclusive resorts offer a mind-boggling amount of activities to keep the family happily busy, or happily relaxing. This also allows for flexibility in scheduling. Like if your sister’s kid is hungry every half hour, she can grab him snacks instead of altering the family’s meal schedule. With pools to choose from, spas, outings, and on-property activities, the whole family can stay happy. And hopefully getting along nicely.
7. Schedule meaningful family time together
Just because everyone is on a vacation or on a getaway together, doesn’t necessarily mean everyone will automatically glue together. Schedule in some dedicated time to be together doing an activity, sharing a meal, sitting around the fire pit roasting marshmallows, or swapping childhood stories. It’s not a bad idea to have some cell-phone free time, as well, to help bring everyone into the present.
8. Create a space to share memories
Depending on how many people attend your family reunion and how selfie-inclined your family members are, you could end up with thousands of pictures from the reunion. Before you begin the reunion, set up a place for everyone to upload their photos to and that everyone has access to. Google Drive could be the easiest for your family or Dropbox. Whatever platform you decide on, set it up in advance and send all of the invites. This way, your vacation time doesn’t have to include getting this done. If you have a communication channel already set up, it’ll be easy to explain to everyone how to access the shared photos and get everyone signed up.
This could be a great time for a family holiday card photo, or a group photo that you can print and give as presents later on.
Planning a family reunion for 2020?
This one is going to be epic. It’s the one that everyone will talk about for years to come and we’re here to help make this happen! Send us a message and we’ll jump into planning this family reunion for the books.