Vacation Buddies: Planning a Multifamily Vacation

Work Out the Logistics Up Front

One place where we went wrong was with money. Some of us paid with cash throughout the trip, and others charged drinks and snacks to the house. In the end, we weren't sure who had bought what. Luckily, the costs weren't exorbitant so we all split everything without any ill will. But little mistakes like this could put a strain on your relationship. Talk over how you want to handle group purchases before you go. Instead of taking turns paying (groups often do this, and things rarely work out evenly), Eisenberg suggests that each family load the same amount of money on one debit card to use for combined expenses.

There's also the issue of lodging. If you're sharing space with another family or two, avoid tension or hurt feelings by deciding in advance who gets the master suite and whether they'll pay a little more for it. And it's a good idea to designate responsibilities before the trip, especially when it comes to cooking and cleaning. We lucked out: My friend Claudia is an amazing cook. She brought everything for Saturday-night dinner, and we all just split the cost. But we blew planning the breakfast and lunch food: We ended up with four boxes of Cocoa Puffs, a couple dozen Pop-Tarts, and way too many chips for a three-day getaway. "To prevent this, you should appoint a food commissioner to coordinate who brings what," says Lanier. You could also assign each family a day to be in charge of the food, or let one handle breakfast, another lunch, and another dinner.

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