Traveling with friends can be a lot of fun, enjoying experiences, laughs and memories that both couples can share for years to come. You’ll have more adult conversation than you’d get on a family trip and your kids will have others to share the fun with. But remember traveling together for a week isn’t like spending a Saturday afternoon together at your pool.
*Choose your travel companions carefully
Do the kids all get along as well as the adults? Do they already know each other and have spent time together peaceably? Travel is not the time for kids to “get to know each other better”. Beware of thinking that because they are the same ages they will love being together 24/7. The same goes for the adults. There’s an old saying you never get to know someone until you’ve traveled with them. Believe it!
*Take some weekend trips first
It’s good to have some test runs before making plans for a longer trip together. Look out for signs of incompatibility, which can quickly become sources of irritation. Little habits that are mildly annoying in an evening together can become intolerable after a few days of constant company. Do their routines match yours? Are they early risers who have the car packed before you’ve eaten breakfast? Are you used to dining at 8 p.m., while they want dinner at 5 p.m.? Are both couples flexible if plans need to change suddenly? When differences pop up, how adaptable are they — and you?
* Plan an itinerary that fits everyone
Be mindful of the interests and abilities of both couples and all generations. Be sure everyone is on board with the plans before you make the first reservation. Plan activities everyone can do. Does everyone enjoy the planned sports or active experiences? Are there alternatives for the person who doesn’t like kayaking or long hours of sightseeing? Take everyone’s stamina into account. Kids may have boundless energy, but little legs have to take twice as many steps as adults do. Tempers are shorter when people are tired. Be realistic.
*You don’t need to be together all the time
Unless your families spend a lot of time together, it’s probably good to plan some time to do separate things. Or to divide up in some way. Maybe one parent would love to sit by the pool for an afternoon while the kids swim and the other adults go for a hike. Or art lovers can go gallery hopping while shoppers browse the boutiques. But make sure everyone knows where everyone else is and when you will meet.
*Set the “rules” in advance
Make sure you all agree when one family wants to split off for a while, nobody’s feelings are hurt. Just make sure you plan destinations that have alternatives. And agree ahead there may be times when the kids will need some time out, too. They may love playing with your friends’ kids, but that doesn’t mean they want to do it steadily for a week. Plan some activities that appeal to their individual temperaments and interests, too.
*Choose destinations with multiple experiences
While some of your group are snapping photos of the quaint streets and houses, and the kids are taking selfies in front of the fountain, others can be looking at local crafts in a market or sitting in a café enjoying the local scene. As one couple is admiring the antiques and art in a historic house, the others may be marveling at the garden, while the kids get lost in a hedge maze.
*Be open to surprises
While couples may each have their own interests, be willing to share someone else’s for a time. Who knows? After spending an hour in a gallery with an enthusiast you may discover a new appreciation for contemporary art. This may be harder with kids, but exposure to new sights and flavors on a foreign trip may expand their interests and tastes. Don’t push it, but be willing to experiment a little.