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Q: My extended family lives in different states. We'd like to plan a family vacation together, but don't know if we can all afford to take one at the same time. Do you have any suggestions?


A: So many families have geography separating them, including mine. Whether it's a job, military deployment, or just the normal course of life, staying connected when you live far apart can be a challenge.


On a day-to-day basis, technology can certainly help — texting, video chat, etc. But there's nothing like getting together in-person.


A big family vacation can be a great way to build bonds, develop memories, and share stories that last a lifetime.


Here are some suggestions to make organizing easier:


  1. If you'd normally use vacation days to travel to see family for the holidays or a long weekend, save those days and put them toward a big trip for everyone.
  2. Plan a cost-conscious family trip that takes into account the budget restrictions of the participants who are least able to afford the expense. It will make it easier for everyone to participate.
  3. Look into group rates and discounts. Depending on the number of people, a travel agent (or travel website) may be able to get you a group discount on flights, hotel, and car rentals, and even plan activities together. Also check discount sites such as Groupon or LivingSocial.
  4. Focus squarely the end-goal — spending time together — and you'll avoid a lot of angst. While you may not have the most exotic vacation, everyone will be more relaxed.
  5. Scheduling will be the trickiest part. Ask everyone to be flexible on dates. Focus first on the constraints of the person with the least wiggle room on their calendar. (Easier said than done, I know!)
  6. To keep costs in check, consider traveling outside of a destination's high season. For example, many ski resorts are actually beautiful hideaways in the mountains. Many try to attract off-season business with outdoor pools and hiking trails.
  7. Consider renting a cottage or a hotel room with a kitchen to save on expensive meals. Or perhaps look at all-inclusive resorts or cruises. You may pay more up-front, but save on incidental costs.
  8. To stay connected, try video chatting with family members via your computer or smartphone. I do this regularly with my daughter, who is away at college, and my sister, who lives in a different part of the country. It's amazing how close it is to "being there."


Enjoy your quality family time wherever you may be!


Are you planning a family trip? Share with us!