Remember the old scouting motto, “Be prepared”? It comes in handy when you’re planning your Outer Banks family getaway. After all, the better equipped you are, the more you’ll minimize inconvenience and maximize your fun.
However, this type of arrangement does require some finesse. Laying groundwork and setting expectations at the outset are the keys to creating happy memories on your Outer Banks vacation. Here are our top 10 tips for making family and group travel to the Outer Banks easier.
Have a planning meeting
Before making any reservations, have a planning meeting that everyone can attend either virtually or in person. During the session, work together to organize a trip that fits everyone’s schedule and budget, and has activities and downtime in the right proportions for the group.
During this time, you’ll also want to agree on a budget for shared expenses, including house rental, transportation, meals, activities, and incidentals.
Make sure everyone is involved
There are two types of vacationers: Planners who like taking control and making things happen, and non-planners who would rather just go with the flow. For the most part, letting planners do their thing is fine if it’s something they enjoy. However, it’s important that each person be involved in decision making so everyone’s needs and preferences are taken into account.
Decide what’s important in a vacation rental
From game rooms and cable TV to gourmet kitchens and expansive ocean views, beach rentals come in all sizes and personalities. Choosing a rental house is the biggest decision you’ll make as a group, so while you’re in the planning stage, make a list of the elements that are most important to everyone.
While you’re setting budgets, choosing a rental, and planning an itinerary, conflicting interests are bound to surface. Establish the rule that your traveling group is a small democracy that will break ties and make decisions by popular vote. Good sports agree to go along with the majority.
Set expectations for activity level
Even if you just show up with your flip-flops and plop down in the sand, you’ll have a great vacation in the Outer Banks. However, a little research can go a long way toward an even better vacation.
There’s plenty of information available online about vacationing in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Start your planning by finding out what kinds of things there are to do in the area where you’ll be staying. Activities in the Outer Banks range from relaxing on the beach to taking an exhilarating kiteboarding lesson or helicopter tour. A quick Internet search will help you make a preliminary list of things that might be interesting for your family or group.
Before you decide on any activity, poll everyone who will be on the trip with you. For adults, find out what they’re looking forward to most. For example, foodies and seafood lovers may be excited about finding the best fish tacos in the Outer Banks, while adventure seekers might be looking forward to trying their skills at ocean sports. Many adults hope to escape to some much-needed peace and quiet, so remember to plan for some do-nothing time.
Kids and teenagers may need some help discovering what would be most fun for them in the Outer Banks. Explore age-appropriate activities for each child, then designate time for them to have time to enjoy their choice. If building an elaborate sandcastle is your child’s top pick, schedule a morning or afternoon for the activity and get the whole family in on it.
Teenagers usually enjoy a little excitement and some time on their own. Browsing the surf shops or taking a surfing lesson may be their idea of fun. For kids and adults both, knowing everyone’s expectations upfront can help each person in your group have their version of a perfect vacation.
Allotting the Right Amount of Time and Money
Once you know what everyone wants to do, it’s easier to make a schedule and a budget. Some activities — like shell hunting — don’t require a schedule. However, activities such as lessons or tours may require reservations in advance. While nobody wants too much of a schedule on vacation, planning ahead can help your family or group make the best use of time. If you’re sharing a car with other adults, a loose schedule can ensure that it’s available for activities that require a drive.
Advanced planning not only ensures that you get to do the things you want to do, but it’s also a great way to save money. For example, enrolling in a Surf Camp that features three days of two-hour lessons gives would-be surfers a deep discount and an unforgettable immersion experience. Enrolling the whole family in surf lessons can also earn you a discount of nearly half the cost of private lessons.
Restaurants: Reservations or Not?
Food lovers or those looking for a romantic night out in the ideal restaurant will also want to research their options and make reservations. While most restaurants in the Outer Banks are casual and don’t require reservations, there are several worth visiting that do. Making a reservation is also a great idea if you have a large party or are celebrating a special occasion.