I think we universally agree holidays are a tonic for the soul. Whether you’re travelling solo, with your partner, or in a group, and heading an hour down the road or to the other side of the world, they all have their place and they all let us reconnect not only with ourselves, but with life and the world around us in some way.
But when is the last time you went on a holiday with your broader family as an adult?
Meaning your kids, husband, your parents, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews – the whole kit-n-caboodle! We’ve had a group family holiday a few times in the past few years, on both sides of our family and I have to say the rewards are far reaching.
This year we agreed it was my side of the family who would all head away for a Family Christmas for ten days. There were 11 of us, and the memories will last a lifetime. There were many hilarious games around the dinner table that had us all in fits of laughter, and to see my 7-year-old daughter and her cousins laugh so hard with their grandparents on a relaxing holiday was priceless.
My advice for planning a successful Group Family Holiday?
- You must narrow down your criteria to suit all of the family’s needs.
With a checklist of needing a place that would sleep 11 people; a swimming pool for the kids; a nearby beach; a place with some privacy for our family to just ‘hang about’, and the kind of place where a BBQ is the order of the day after a lazy day relaxing together, we found a beautiful spot on the Sunshine Coast, at the Beach Road Holiday Homes, just minutes from Noosa on the Noosa North Shore.
The beauty of this place was that it’s away from the hustle and bustle. You take a one-minute barge ride across the Noosa River from Noosa, and find yourself surrounded by tranquility at the gateway to the Cooloola – Great Sandy National Park. (The barge left every 7 minutes so there were no hassles waiting for it!).
Every morning we threw on our runners, and headed to the nearby beach for a walk and a splash about in the ocean. (You can actually drive your car on one side of the beach – and if you kept going, you would find yourself at World-Heritage listed Fraser Island!). As for the afternoons, well let’s just say there was plenty of lazing about near the pool and catching up on everyone’s lives – those kind of conversations where there is no rush, where the mornings melt into the afternoons and beer o’clock comes around whenever we say.
This type of set up worked perfectly for us, and I would highly recommend a private holiday home for a group family holiday. You get more privacy, space and facilities than a hotel – and of course, a full kitchen and laundry can be a lifesaver on a holiday with kids. Plus, it usually works out cheaper to split the cost of a house, than every one booking individual hotel rooms.
- Be prepared!
To use an old girl guide saying, Be Prepared! For a group family holiday, it’s important to stock up on plenty of food, drink and games. The last thing you want is to find yourself walking up and down a supermarket aisle, so do it well the first time! It’s not only much cheaper to eat in, it brings the family together.
My brother and his wife are passionate about all things food (and wine), so to be honest it made everyone’s life pretty magnificent that they wanted to take charge of the kitchen.
We organised a loose rota for the everyday tasks around the house such as cleaning, cooking etc, which works well as there is no confusion about who needs to do what (and nothing is left undone).
As for the games, well my family is huge on this. My mum comes prepared with every game you can think of, and it brings such joy to us all. Its worth investing the time in before hand (thanks mum) it keeps kids off the iPad and mobiles and they can enjoy good old fashioned fun together.
Talk before you leave home and work out who can bring what. Many houses come equipped with games, cards, DVD’s etc but always check in advance and of course, pack your favourites.
- Have time apart
Sounds logical, but a point that I feel should be acknowledged, is that on relaxed family holidays we are all want to chill out. Don’t try and do everything together (lets be honest, ‘too much’ time together can work against any family, no matter how good you are). Plan a few things away from the larger group!
Also, try and use the time between you all to have some ‘me’ time. With so many adults around, and usually a few kids, rotate some light baby sitting duties between you so adults take it in turns to get away and have some adult time. Even just to read a book for an hour in the bath!
At the end of the day, we all have our own criteria for what our families love. All it takes is a little organisation and if you haven’t done it in a while (or ever), do yourself a favour and let the holiday spirit weave its magic on your family as a whole. I know for my family, it reconnected us in many ways and let us catch up on our busy lives – but more than anything, it was just A LOT OF FUN!