Planning a family vacation is exciting. My husband’s family vacations together every year, or sometimes every other year. We talked about taking the kids to Disney in Orlando at some point. We thought it would be fun for the kids to experience Disney together. We live the furthest away, so we look forward to seeing them every year.
Back in the fall we decided to do Disney. A few folks couldn’t make it this time but we’ll have more trips in the future. I talked with family members about their schedules, set the date and made the reservations. We have four more weeks until the big trip. The kids are super excited.
Eighteen of us which includes 8 adults and 10 kids, (3 families and 2 grandparents) will head to Orlando in July from the east coast and midwest for five nights. The kids range in age from 3 to 15. Five of the kids are under 8 and five are 10 and over.
All of the kids have partners for the rides which lets me off the hook. I’m officially retired from rides.
It’s also a custom for my sister-in-laws and I to have a “girls night out”. We have great conversations about love, life, work and the pursuit of happiness. We need some time out, wouldn’t you agree? We love our kids, but moms need a little bonding time. We definitely take advantage of it on vacation.
We’ve vacationed in many places as a whole family including Hilton Head, Nags Head, Seven Springs, Jersey Shore, Ocean City, Virginia Beach, and Massanutten. Over the years we have all stayed together in one big house, or more recently booked hotels and condos. As our families have grown, we decided it was best to reserve our own space. Usually a deposit is required and payments are made over time.
My three kids have been to Disney four times. We lived in Georgia for four years, and it was just a 5 hour drive to Orlando which was no big deal for us. It’s the first time visiting Disney for 7 of the kids. We are excited for them.
Snapshots from our cruise on the Disney Dream 2011. My kids riding the AquaDuck slide on deck. My son doing some snorkeling on Castaway Cay, a private island in the Bahamas. The cruise was costly but fantastic.
We will most likely spilt up one day in order to accommodate the different interests. The older kids would like to go to Universal Studios and Epcot. The younger kids prefer Magic Kingdom. Of course, my two nieces ages 3 and 6 have to see the princesses especially Princess Tiana.
Here are some traveling tips that have worked for us.
1. Decide on a date. I took the lead on setting the date and researching accommodations. Discuss the date ranges for availability with the family. We have Educators in our family which meant summer travel is best. It’ll be blazing hot in July, but we’ll survive.
2. Make a reservation. My husband and I are gold owners with the Wyndham Bonnet Creek in Orlando located next to Disney. I made reservations back in September which included 2 bedroom and 3 bedroom condo units. Each unit includes full kitchens, and a washer and dryer. The resort is family friendly with multiple pools, a lazy river and on-site activities. The general public can also rent units at Bonnet Creek as well. I’ve heard that the price is reasonable considering the amount of space you get.
3. Arrange travel plans. We are all driving to Orlando. It’s a 14-15 hour drive for all of us. I know, it’s going to be a long haul. Each vehicle will have at least two drivers. If necessary, we’ll stop and spend the night in a hotel in order to break up the trip. Driving our own cars will be less expensive than flying and renting a car for the week.
4. Communicate with family. I sent an email to the family a few months back reminding them of the reservations, and general ticket pricing for the parks. We also talk by phone. Each family creates their own budget.
5. Create a schedule. The whole point of traveling together is to spend time with one another. My sister-in-law created a tentative schedule for the week. We have lunch and dinner reservations at a couple of places but they can be canceled if plans change. The planning website at https://disneyworld.disney.go.com is a great resource for planning all things Disney. Each family has decided they will visit two parks.
As you can see, we prefer a more relaxed schedule.
Monday – Check in. Lunch reservation. On site activities. Swim in the pool.
Tuesday – Disney Park. Magic Kingdom (younger kids), or Epcot (older kids). Dinner at the park.
Wednesday – Beach Day. The kids have requested a beach day. There are several beaches within an hour driving distance. Cocoa Beach, Daytona and New Smyrna.
Thursday – Universal Studios. Everyone. Dinner at the park.
Friday – Relax. On site activities. Swim in the pool. Dinner reservation.
Saturday – Check out. Say goodbye and head home.
6. Plan Meals and go grocery shopping. Since we have the benefit of a full kitchen, we will prepare most meals at the resort. This will help us to save money. We prepare a menu, create a list, and grocery shop for the week on the day we arrive. Over the course of the week, we prepare meals and eat together as a family in different condos. Dinner reservations for a family of 18 is not always easy to accommodate. We enjoy meal time together. Cooking on vacation sounds like work but you have to do what you have to do. We all pitch in, plus we eat healthier.
7. Create a safety plan with the kids. It’s better to be prepared. Talk to the kids about what they should do if they get separated from the group. A few years ago, one of my kids got lost at Universal. When I realized she was not with us, I was running through the park like a track star looking for her. No joke, I went into mommy overdrive. Luckily, I found her. True story.
8. Brainstorm potential locations for the next trip. After we decide on a location, someone usually agrees to take the lead for planning the next trip.
Traveling with a large family can seem a bit overwhelming but we’ve managed to pull it off for several years now. We make it a priority to see one another. It definitely takes planning and teamwork. We enjoy vacationing together, and plan to continue for many years to come. We hope that our kids will continue this legacy of family vacations when they have their own children.
Do you have any tips for traveling with a large family? Does your extended family vacation together?
Peace and Blessings,
This is not a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Peace and Blessings,