Plan An Unforgettable Family Reunion
Tips & Tricks for an Effortless Family Reunion or Vacation
Nowadays, planning a fantastic family reunion goes way past the picnic table. With various resources at your disposal, such as travel sites such as Travelocity and Kayak, travel agents, and deal sites like Living Social, it's easy to get overwhelmed. From investing in personalized family custom embroidered apparel, to figuring out how everyone is going to get fed, here are some tricks to ensuring your reunion or trip goes off without a hitch:
Choose a New, Affordable Location
If your family always breaks the bank on a mid winter beach vacation, consider trying something new. Pick a drivable location that will work for some, or most of your family. Consult sites such as meetways.com that can determine a midpoint for locations. Rent a cabin in the Adirondacks for the weekend, or get a reduced rate on a Florida Keys vacation rental during the summer month when the water is warm and the fishing is great! You can save so much when you rent a home and aren't dependent on restaurants for your meals. The home pictured here is a duplex, and both sides are available to weekly rentals, allowing more family members to stay together.
Remember that popular vacation locations such as Las Vegas, Myrtle Beach or Disney World may have more attractions. However, these “tourist traps” also tend to be more expensive, not just in accommodations, but with food and entertainment. Also take elderly or special need family members into consideration. If the family wants Aunt Ida to come, but she doesn't travel well, choose a location close to her.
Tip: If you're looking for affordable Big Texas fun, check out Austin. Wilmington, NC is a highly accessible coastal area with a lively downtown.
Make a Family Logo
One of the hottest trends for family reunions or vacations are family logos. A family logo can be printed on invitations, used for custom embroidered apparel, printed on tote bags, or used as a watermark on reunion photos. Ask a talented relative if they'd like to create one, or try to find a freelance graphic designer for a quick $5 logo on Fiverr. Some custom embroidered apparel companies, such as Queensboro.com, offer complimentary logo design.
Tip: Need ideas on logo design? Try selecting something centered around your heritage or location. If the Adams have been living in Fort Lauderdale for generations, try a logo incorporating a palm tree. For an Irish heritage, the O'Conners may want to use a Celtic symbol or a four leaf clover.
Determine a Budget – Then Stick To It
To encourage participation, sticking to a budget is crucial. When planning a family reunion or vacation, it's important to be transparent on how much you're looking to spend. Add up possible expenses first- accommodations, travel expenses, food and activities, and give each attendee an idea of the cost. It's wise to consult a travel agent, who will also be able to provide expertise in travel insurance, seasonality, and affordable flights. Travelocity has various resources to help get you started.
Tip: Budget websites such as Mint.com offer various resources for properly planning a budget. Consider opening a joint account for shared expenses, such as food, toiletries, or activities at your local bank or credit union.
Don't Be Selfish
It's easier to plan a family trip or get together around your own needs, but try not to be selfish. Consider the wants and needs of those attending. If you prefer warm weather, but you know that the majority of the family has their heart set on skiing, try to make them happy. You can always plan a vacation for yourself some other time. In order to keep it fair, consider having your family members take a custom poll. Choose a few locations and have them vote online.
Tip: If a certain family member tends to be stubborn or difficult, put them in charge of a small aspect of your trip. Aunt Susan can plan three of the weekly meals if she agrees to drive instead of fly.
Create a Website
In addition to new babies and weddings, websites are also quite popular for family reunions. Treat your website as a resource, and frequently update schedule changes, unexpected costs, and RSVPs. Add helpful links with your resort, hotel or rental, nearby attractions, and travel times for those attending. If you're concerned about privacy, sites can be password protected. WordPress or blogger can easily set you up with a free blog.
Tip: If you don't have time to setup a site, consider allowing a tech-savvy niece or nephew handle it. If not, you can always create a private or public Facebook group that will allow you to post updates and share photos.
Get Creative With Food
If you're planning on feeding a large family, plan way ahead. Consider getting a membership to BJ'S, Sam's Club or Costco. Include your family in decision making. As a team, collect coupons and scout local grocery stores to buy dry goods ahead of time. If an event needs to be catered, consider only getting one or two main dishes, then having family members contribute homemade side dishes. Remember that eating out gets expensive quickly, so coordinate at home dinners. As a family, choose restaurants you'd like to go to, and be realistic about how much it's going to cost.
Tip: In the months leading up to your trip, scout deal sites such as Groupon or Living Social to get exclusive
Who's Taking Pictures – Decide Ahead of Time
Everyone wants quality family photos at vacations and reunions, but forget to task someone with the job. Figure out who has a camera, and choose a few family members to be official “photographers” for the event. Make sure everyone brings extra batteries and camera chargers. If no one has a camera, consider renting one. Another alternative would be purchasing a cheap digital camera from Amazon or Best Buy. You may want to ask family members to chip in on a camera to exclusively use for family trips, reunions and vacations. Determine whether or not these pictures will be shared on Facebook, or put online into a photo sharing site such as Flickr. If no one is willing to take pictures, invite a tech savvy family friend along with the task.
Tip: If you can't find anyone to take pictures, consider having family members take turns. Someone has to take pictures, and if you don't, you'll regret it. If family members dislike having photos taken, compromise on only snapping.
Ask a Local
If you're stumped on activities, toss aside guide books and ask a local. New social sites such as Trippy.com specialize in planning trips. Locals and long time visitors can share their expertise on various locations, providing the best food, fun, and family friendly activities. Log on and start asking questions. It may be a good idea to check Facebook for friends that live in those areas. Consider contacting the official travel bureau with any additional questions, especially if you're going out of the country.
Tip: Consider contacting desired attractions or restaurants to ask about seasonality and availability. A local legendary seafood joint may not be open in March. If you're nice enough, they may even offer you an exclusive tour or discount.
Check the Weather
One of the easiest things to forget is to check weather conditions for your location. If you're still choosing a spot, make sure you understand the expected forecast. Don't book somewhere if it's going to be raining the entire time. A week or so ahead of time, double check the location's local news outlet for weather updates. Check the national forecast as well to predict possible storms that may impact travel. Forewarn family members of hazardous conditions, and make sure you have a backup plan if travel becomes an issue.
Tip: Regardless of the forecast, come prepared. If you're headed to a secluded cabin, make sure you bring extra flashlights, candles and emergency supplies. For the beach, bring some rainy day activities such as board games and books. Create a weather emergency plan that the entire family is in on.
Share Your Packing List
How many times have you gone to the beach without sunscreen? When it comes to detailed events and trips, it's common for people for forget to bring the simplest things. Share a general packing list with your family for their reference. If you have a website for your event, post it on there. If not, mail it out to everyone. Remember the little things, such as toothpaste, shampoo, and underwear. Don't forget to add specialty items for your location. If you're hitting the beach, remind them to bring bathing suits, sunblock, and beach towels. If you're in the mountains, jackets, warm clothing, and boots or sneakers are essential. In order to keep things from getting mixed up, consider investing in custom embroidered apparel such as monogrammed beach bags or jackets.
Tip: Consider consolidating supplies. If each niece is bringing a blow dryer, bathrooms will get cluttered quickly. There's no need for five bottles of shampoo, or ten tubes of toothpaste. Look into buying bulk products for your trip that the entire family can share.
Melissa Weidenborner is a Content Creation Specialist who writes about small business, home decor, food and wine, and as well as travel. She currently works in SEO/Social Media. Follow her corporate tweets @queensboroshirt.