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Friends-cation: 6 tips on how to enjoy multi-family vacations

Vacationing with friends takes an already fun adventure to new heights. On a recent trip to California with my children, 10-year-old Olivia and 8-year-old Dante, we learned that joining forces with two other families broadened our vacation possibilities.

Suddenly we could spring for a dream house, kids and grown-ups alike had a built-in social group, and I shared “adulting” responsibilities with the rest of the tribe. Here are some lessons to consider when planning your next multi-family jaunt — and help ensure you stay friends long after the trip is over.

Patience

Getting outside time and breaking the rules a bit were the keys to success with our kid crew. Here, the monkeys hang around San Diego. | Renee Huang

As with late nights, uneven schedules and lots of action, the meltdowns — for kids and parents alike — were inevitable. But having a healthy, laid-back attitude helped the group weather the minor tantrums. We learned to support each other in contentious situations, allowing parents to address their children in their own manner.

My kids learned a great deal from seeing common values reinforced and their peers held to the same standards. Being in close quarters meant that everyone made an effort at laid-back living. And we learned that nothing happens quickly when traveling in groups. We had longer waits for restaurant tables (try seating 10 people together during peak dining times) and getting out the door took twice as long. But we also left the watch at home and let the day unfold naturally.

Get outside

No matter how much fun a big house can be, little ones need fresh air and physical activity to stay positive and energized. When bickering hit an all-time high one morning, my friend Tawnya and I knew it was time to take the crew to the beach. Once in the sanctity of the open ocean, warm sand and endless waves, everyone took a chill pill and busied themselves with the task at hand: soaking up the moment.

Hours later, we ventured home with tired, happy kids without a complaint or argument. We factored in one big excursion outside each day, allowing the kids freedom to explore and express themselves. Everyone was revitalized and refreshed — parents included!

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