Since the start of the pandemic, many family gatherings have been put on temporary hold. However, as public health confidence returns, restrictions are greatly loosening. A surge to socialize puts talks of upcoming family reunions and vacations back on the table. With a large variety of spacious vacation and Airbnb home rentals on the market, it’s tempting to share vacation time and split rental costs with extended family. A quote by Ezra Taft Benson, a former United States Secretary of Agriculture, comes to mind, “Build traditions of family vacations and trips and outings. Your child will never forget these memories.” But, before saying yes to a family group vacation, there are some smart points to consider:
- Factor in money – Comedian Steve Martin said, “I love money. I love everything about it. I bought some pretty good stuff. Got me a $300 pair of socks. Got a fur sink. An electric dog polisher. A gasoline-powered turtleneck sweater. And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff, too.” We can joke about money until the cows come home, but spending money is a sensitive issue for some. Money disagreements have been known to turn friends into enemies. To avoid payment issues, it’s important to find an affordable rental for your entire group. If you’re splitting the cost with family members, agree upfront on how you will share the cost, from price per person or price per family unit, and put it in writing. Rentals offer diverse types of accommodations, from luxurious main bedrooms to cramped spaces with bunk beds. Thus, it’s helpful for families to discuss accommodations and assign rooms ahead of time. Family members who seek the upgrades may be willing to pay more, which ultimately lowers the price for everyone else. For shared rentals, such as reserving a large house in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, deposits are generally required in advance. You’ll likely want to assign one responsible person to collect the rental fee payments and send them to the realtor in the form of one payment.
- Factor in location – Two of the best parts of traveling are sightseeing and planning fun activities. In cases where family members range in age and have varying interests, choosing a location that offers something fun for everyone is key. (Anyone who has spent time with a bored teenager totally gets this!) It’s important to assess what the majority seeks. Do we want a country or a city vibe? Should we head to the beach or the mountains? Select locations where everyone will be entertained. Here are a few examples. At the beach, little ones can dig in the sand while the teens go parasailing. Or at a ski resort, kids can learn on the bunny slopes while parents ski the big ones. The accessibility of the location, as well as travel expenses and transportation, must be examined. Since gas and travel prices are up, it’s generally advisable to choose a central destination. Bear in mind that long trips not only require vacation time but cost time in travel. Thus, it’s important to make sure that everyone’s journey and schedules are considered.
- Factor in details – In choosing an ideal rental property, consider important details regarding the family’s needs. These are the little things that can break a great family vacation. When looking at rental options, ask yourself key questions. For example, Is the balcony safe for children? Might grandma’s hip act up if she must climb these steps? Will the teens enjoy having a pool? Does this property offer enough space and privacy options? Conveniences must also be addressed. How close is the nearest pharmacy or grocery store? Is there parking close by? Overall safety is another critical element worth researching before committing to a rental. Make sure the property is up to code and has all the safety features required, such as working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Also, be sure to check out neighborhood crime statistics to make sure the community is safe.
- Reflect upon lifestyles – The most important thing is to enjoy each other’s company. Before you commit to renting with others, even family members, understand what you are undertaking. A single person who likes to stay up late while listening to loud music might not enjoy sharing a rental with a married couple with children who seek quiet time at night. And vice versa. In that case, it may be better to have separate accommodations and meet up during the day. Should you agree to share a rental, it’s important to be flexible, which might mean enjoying music with your headphones on or expecting some regular noise in the house while your kid’s sleep. Accepting different personalities under one roof is a must.
The choice over whether to share a rental property with friends or family is deeply personal. While you may save money doing a group rental, you must rely on others to be responsible regarding finances and shared spaces. Also, understanding the terms of the agreement and knowing what you get for your money is vital. Keep in mind that what is good for others might not work for you, so follow your heart. Remember that it’s YOUR family vacation, so doing what is healthiest and happiest is premium for you and your family.