family road trips
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Thanksgiving or Christmas family road trips put a new spin on old traditions

Too often, I see families dreading the drive back to mom or dad’s for the holidays instead of looking forward to big family road trips. It’s not surprising, and it’s not usually the host family’s fault. There’s only so much excitement you can drum up for a long drive to a place you’ve been 10 years in a row or more. After that point, the long haul back and forth can seem like a chore.

Road trips are wonderful because they offer short spurts of driving mixed in with attractions and  stays in curious places. Driving all day and all night to crash on grandma’s fold-out just isn’t it. Plus, more families are taking the opportunity to get away from it all and have group vacations during the holidays instead of gatherings at someone’s home. 

Family holiday getaways offer big benefits such as:

  • No planning
  • No cooking
  • No cleaning
  • No need to keep everyone entertained! 

Hosts often spend hundreds of hours (and thousands of dollars) planning a holiday get-together only to have family members grumbling the whole way there and back. Put your efforts to better use by planning a holiday multi-family road trip. 

Telling Your Family You Want a Change of Venue

As a general rule, people dislike change and try to avoid it whenever possible. Change is scary – for all kinds of reasons. Your siblings might not want to switch things up because of cost. Your parents might be worried about expense. Grandma? When you tell her you don’t want to have Thanksgiving at her house this year, she might think you don’t enjoy holidays at her house.

I’m a big fan of family group chats. We have one on Discord for our immediate family, and every once in awhile, I get roped into one on Facebook. An announcement to this kind of general list can help get the conversation started, such as:

Instead of going to Grandma’s this Thanksgiving, how would you all like to meet for dinner in Memphis?

Or wherever you’ve determined offers the right mix of activities and accommodations for your family. Throw out a few suggestions of where to go, where to eat, where to stay and tell people what you intend to do on the way there and back. 

Remember to keep pushing the benefits too. They get to show up, have fun, eat and LEAVE to do new things they’ll really enjoy. 

Common Objections to Multi Family Road Trips

Budget – Needless to say, some family members prefer Thanksgiving at Grandma’s specifically because they aren’t paying for the food. Or a hotel. Or entertainment. The cost savings of a family-based holiday vacation is really what keeps it happening every year. And some of those people might scrimp and save to make it happen. You have to keep practical concerns in mind when it comes to budget. 

Some families agree to pool their money and share expenses. They come up with a total trip budget and then they split it by how many people are traveling. Others figure out a rough estimate of how much the trip should cost and make each family responsible for paying their own share. 

Of course, the luckiest groups have one or two wealthy people who foot the bill for everybody. (That isn’t most groups.)

Driving concerns – Do you have people in your family who don’t drive? Is your car not as reliable as it needs to be for wintry roads? Some families rent multiple vehicles so everyone can travel together, safely, on the road. 

Tradition – Even after sharing the benefits of going away as a group, you might have people who demand business as usual. It’s okay to let it go. Go on a road trip by yourself and update them all when you get home. They might be ready for an adventure the next year (or you might be ready to go back home). 

Selecting the Right Activities and Hotels

One of the best ways to save money on a family road trip is by splitting the costs of accommodations. AirBnB and similar services make it easy to find large private rentals capable of giving everyone their space. Split among a big group of people, luxury digs wind up costing a fraction of what you’d spend on a budget hotel. 

Activities can be just as affordable. Holidays mean special events in many places, so take a look around and cash in on community celebrations. 

As with planning any trip, you have to make sure there is something that fits everyone. However, with a big group there’s more freedom than planning for just your immediate family. More people means more people with shared interests! 

Freedom to Explore on Your Own

One of the biggest benefits of turning a holiday trip home into a vacation is giving your family the option to do things outside the norm. Instead of just going to Grandma’s and setting up the fold-out sofa, your kids can hit an indoor water park or hit the slopes! If you’re driving 12 hours to see family it might as well be as much fun as possible.

Science tells us that emotional bonds are reinforced through a mixture of old familiar activities and exciting new ones. A family’s holiday road trip serves that up in spades. Now is the perfect time to start planning too. You’ll want to have most lodging booked by the end of October to get the best prices on the best rooms. 

Are you ready to plan family road trips for your fall and winter travels? Tell us about your holiday plans below!