Whether you are traveling with your own clan, a group of friends, or other families, road tripping as a group has perks. One of the biggest advantages of family travel is congregating in one of those spacious, gorgeous, oceanfront Outer Banks rental houses you’ve always admired.
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
Vacations mean something different to every person. Perhaps you love sleeping in until noon, or hours of uninterrupted reading. Others are eager for adventure and exploration. Each person should feel free to make suggestions and have his/her ideas taken into account.
As a group, agree to accommodate one other as much as possible. For example, if someone is looking forward to sleeping in most mornings, set quiet hours for the house. If you have night owls among you, designate areas (outdoors or in) where s/he can stay up late without disturbing others.
Give everyone a job
Vacation home rentals require a few chores. Things will go more smoothly if you give everyone a job at the outset. Divide up cooking duties by assigning each family, person, or couple a night to cook. Kids get jobs too. Depending on their ages, they can help with meal prep and cleanup, putting toys and bikes away at the end of the day, and ensuring that beach towels are hung up to dry.
Rent an extra car
Not everyone will want to participate in the same activities every day. To avoid the frustration of not having enough transportation for everyone, rent (or drive) an additional vehicle.
While large mini vans are great for getting everyone to the beach house, they’re not well suited when folks want to go their own way for different activities. If your group has varying agendas, it’s better to have several cars than one or two big vehicles.
Limit group outings
Getting a large group of people dressed and moving in the same direction at the same time can be tough. Limit activities that involve your entire group to events that people can join during their own time. For example, plan group dinners on the patio, a game night at home, or a dinner picnic on the nearest beach.
Group activities are a fun part of multi-family travel, but you’ll also want time with just your partner, your family, or off on your own. Don’t feel bad about splitting up from the larger group for a few hours. Making time for yourself or your family is an important part of resting and recharging on vacation, and constantly being with a group of people can take a toll.
If you do want to plan a group outing for dinner or another activity, make a reservation as far ahead of time as possible. Then establish a firm time for when the group transportation is leaving and stick to it.
Family/group travel to the Outer Banks is a wonderful way to create lasting memories. Set a few ground rules, do some homework, and you’ll strengthen friendships, deepen your bonds, and enjoy the economies of scale that traveling with a group provides.