You’ve been planning it for months: time off work is sorted, the accommodation is booked, the agenda is finalised and everyone is looking forward to their first ever large group holiday together.
But bringing together lots of families and personalities for one single holiday can present challenges. You’ve not lived together before, you all have different agendas, and the annoying habits that seem faintly amusing at Christmas can suddenly become unbearable, making arguments a distinct possibility.
The ideal scenario
What if you could anticipate areas of tension before they happen and defuse them before they take hold and ruin the holiday?
What if this holiday really is the most amazing experience that you all talk about fondly for years to come?
What if everyone has such an amazing time that you do it all again in a couple of years?
Why the problem?
Group holidays have never been so popular – with better transport links, lower cost fuel, and the rise of the internet, it’s never been so easy to organise a memorable break away for a large group of people.
80% of us take a holiday every year, relishing the break from daily routine to create new memories, spend time with loved ones and try new things – the annual holiday also presents opportunities to reconnect with distant friends and relatives.
The trend of people seeking better value for money has also influenced the growth of group holidays, as people are discovering they can easily stay in amazing properties and locations that would otherwise be out of their price range, by spreading the cost between a large number of friends or family members.
But we all know what can happen when large groups of people live together – tensions can build and erupt into relationship-changing arguments that make the holiday memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Let’s take a look at the most common areas of conflict on group holidays, and consider how to manage them before they explode.
“I spent the entire week in the kitchen while everyone else sat about and did nothing! It wasn’t much of a holiday for me, waiting on everyone hand and foot.”
Holidays are about escaping the normal pressures of housework and cooking, but there will also be some chores to complete in order to keep the household running smoothly and everyone happy.
The solution: One of the benefits of large group holidays is that many hands make light work – to avoid the risk of too many cooks spoiling the broth, share the cooking and clearing up between families, so each smaller family group or couple takes a day when they are responsible for preparing and serving the food, keeping the drinks flowing, and clearing away fresh for the next morning.
Hungry people are not happy people but staying away from home often means staying in a big house where the only food is that which you and your large group bring with you. While it might be easy at home to find something for the kids to snack on mid-afternoon, it can be a problem on a group holiday if there are 12 kids and the biscuit tin is empty….
The solution: You and your party could split the holiday up into individual days, where each smaller family (or couple) brings enough food and drink for the whole group to eat and drink on one day. If there are five families coming together this will keep you going for at least five days.
Alternatively, you could plan what’s needed in advance, task one person with doing “the big shop” and then simply split the bill between you all.
Have you ever watched a flock of birds in flight, all moving as one as they sweep across the sky in beautiful formation?
Large family groups tend to be less graceful when they try to move as one single body, bumping into each other, trying to go in opposite directions, arguing about the quickest and most direct route…
The solution: A bit of space can sometimes be all you need to reconnect on holiday. Although you will spend much of your time together on trips and shared days out, you might find a day apart with your smaller family group or partner reenergises the group. Returning to the accommodation at the end of the day to share stories and experiences will stimulate new conversation and laughter – plus you can all have a giggle checking out each other’s holiday snaps from the day.
Being free from Twitter notifications, Facebook messages and work emails on the mobile is heaven for many of us, but for the younger members of your group, being without wifi and a phone signal can be one of the worst things that has happened to them in their whole life. Ever.
The solution: Manage their expectations before you arrive. Perhaps the property provides excellent wifi (hallelujah!) or perhaps you have chosen somewhere specifically because it doesn’t…. either way, make sure everyone knows what to expect so there are no surprises when you’ve unpacked and settled in.
Take plenty of fun books, games and activities to keep the kids entertained. Games such as Top Trumps and Guess Who, colouring pencils and plenty of paper, or set them challenges to complete during their holiday:
- Create a newspaper publishing imaginative stories about friends and family
- Make a stop-motion animation (download one of these easy-to-use apps in advance)
- Make a flicker book telling a story about the house you’re staying in
- Draw a picture of the families who might have lived in the house before
According to ABTA’S travel trends report 2015, the “destination celebration” or large group holiday has become a real player in the travel market, as more of us look to celebrate and share experiences with more of our favourite people at once.
Make sure your large group holiday creates the right type of memories by planning in advance, being thoughtful, taking some time apart and sharing the chores.
But also manage those expectations – Great Uncle Bob will no doubt start complaining about the state of the economy at every opportunity, and little Maya will regularly chuck her food on the floor and throw a complete wobbly at the dining table, but hey, that’s life.
What lessons have you learnt from going on large group holidays? What are the biggest areas of tension that you work hard to avoid?
View all properties sleeping 20+ in the portfolio and start planning your group holiday to remember: