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How to plan trips with multiple families

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By The Dallas Morning News
Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

Traveling with multiple families can add up to loads of spring break and summer fun. Proper planning can go a long way toward keeping friendships and expectations intact.

Here are five tips to consider:

Choose wisely. Give careful consideration to the families and friends with whom you choose to share your precious vacation time. Parents you know from the sidelines of the soccer field might show different colors in a holiday setting away from your hometown. Consider hosting a planning party to discuss specific destinations and details before making final plans.

Sharing. Family groups often choose to share a beach house, condo or cabin. That can mean divvying up expenses, transportation, room assignments, cleaning and cooking. Be sure to have a clearly defined plan before your holiday gets under way to avoid misunderstandings about how time and resources will be allocated. If you sense close quarters could be uncomfortable, suggest staying in a resort or hotel where individual rooms will provide each family more time on their own.

Bring reinforcements. With a covey of kids under roof, bringing along helping hands can save sanity. Your favorite neighborhood teen might jump at the chance to help out in exchange for a few dollars and the opportunity to experience your chosen destination. Trade time off during the day for evening duty, so that grown-ups can enjoy a quiet dinner or a night on the town.

Style matters. Not everyone's parenting style is in sync. Before departure, consider discussing issues ranging from bedtime and use of technology to strategies for handling mealtime and household chores with the other parents. Then share expectations with your family before the fun begins. If your children typically make their beds, minimize TV time and eat what they are served, it can be awkward if their travel pals are watching cartoons while waiting for a parent to create a custom waffle and squeeze special orange juice.

Plan private time. No matter how much you are enjoying your vacation buddies, carve out private time with your own family as a group and individually. Whether you take walks on the beach, shop, grab a sandwich or visit a local museum on your own, don't head for home without catching up with your clan. You'll be glad you made the special effort once your regular routine resumes.

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