.How to go on holiday with friends and not kill them
Next weekend we are off on holiday. Staying at Chateau de la Cheine: a ten bedroom property in France that sleeps 20. Sounds fabulous doesn’t it, the idea of taking a bunch of mates away with you on holiday for five days. But how do you go away and enjoy yourselves, and then also come back and still be friends? We did it last year, with three different families (to a different house in France) and had a great time but was that just a fluke? Or are we just the perfect family to go on holiday with?
I suspect not and that there must be a perfect formula for holidaying with friends so I put it to my friends on Facebook to see how what their top tips would be. Some were more succinct than others:
*shudder* can’t think of anything worse tbh
Top Tip – don’t do it!
Hmm. Not quite the responses I was looking for given that this is already booked and there will be about 18 of us! Thankfully the following tips are more akin to my way of thinking:
Have a kitty for food so there is no ‘they ate my food feelings’ and if someone enjoys the cooking, leave them to it!
Oh and parent your children the way you always would do at home, don’t feel tempted to change for the sake of those you are with. Doing that will only confuse/upset your children and possibly have a negative affect on their behaviour and your stress levels!
That point about parenting is such an important one I think. It is not an issue for us as we are only going away with teens but if we all had smaller children then it would certainly be something we would have to consider before going away. A point raised in this tip too:
We used to do this a lot when our kids were young and it worked best when just Mums and children went away together without the Dads! My tip would be to make sure that you have similar expectations of children’s behaviour and approach to disciplining your children as the other parents that you’re going with. Are you happy for other parents to tell off your children? Under what circumstances?
For instance if sweets are a Saturday treat for your brood who will you deal with staying with a family who think that sweets are a treat to be enjoyed whenever you like “after all we are on holiday”. It might seem insignificant, until you have a four year old having a meltdown because they can’t have sweets and their playmate can.
In fact food features highly in a lot of tips:
We go away once a year with one particular family we have known forever. We do a big Tesco order, pay halfsies when we eat out, and keep track of any money spent on shared food etc, then divvy up at the end of the holiday- we tend to eat out at lunch then have a smorgasbord supper of bread, over which we make plans for the next day. It’s worked so far. We generally have sneaky conversations away from the children about what our bedtime plan will be that day or if we should make promises of ice-creams! We take it in turns to feed the children and do bedtime, laundry etc so that every parent gets a break. And we pack lots of booze
We used to go skiing with friends and rent out a chalet. Each family did a meal one night and the others washed up etc. We had a kitty for sundries.
We had planning meetings about who brought and bought what.
When we did the gite hols one family would arrive earlier and see what was there, then send a shopping list to the others to bring. Apart from wine there were no serious over duplications.
Just got back from a joint hols. Kitty for food and even eating out. Essential that each family has their own car and that you ‘escape’ from each other from time to time…just a few hours here and there. Decide who’s having rooms before you go if villa (ie who gets best one! ) and lots of games/cards in the evening.
We have done this in the past. Each family taking a turn at being responsible for a meal worked well
I hadn’t even thought about tips. We often go away with friends and shared accommodation. I guess my only tip would be to make sure they’re good friends, that way everything else doesn’t matter. We have never had any quibbles over money. We share the cooking and pay for our own families things
I need to know they like alcohol as much as me! We have very different parenting styles and I guess the first time we went away together that was apparent but I made sure we still parent the same way and it’s not an issue, we just do things differently.
Sian, Helpful Mum
Though alcohol also features highly, I love how so many people have mentioned getting the booze right. Especially as we plan to do little else when in France than eat and drink
Make sure you all take alcohol and sausages and everything will be fine.
Sian, Geek is The New Chic
Something we talked about as soon as we knew we were all going away together was the pace of the trip. Did people want to lie around by the pool eating cheese all day, or jumping in the hire car at 9am and not coming home until sunset to really make the most of the French countryside. Thankfully we all decided that all we wanted to do was lie around all day and have a break from our hamster wheel lives at home. For some people though I can see that being at polar opposite ends of the activity pace could be something that causes friction: “well we didnt’ feel we could go without you and leave you behind”. This point is a really important one for me, even with the teens. When in Barbados this summer we did make a point of saying that if Mr B and I wanted to do something and the teens didn’t we were still doing it and they could stay at the villa. Clearly not something you can do with small children but I think it is important to respect everybody’s stance on the pace of your holiday. Or indeed space.
My tip would be to have a deal with everyone that you come together for a meal at night but your days are your own to spend as you wish, then everyone gets to take a break from the enforced togetherness but still come together once a day to share their stories! Of course, if some of the group want to make daytime plans this is great but it lets those off the hook who want solitude or to do something different!
Rent separate gites in a small compound (like mine!!) so you have separate front doors and have breakfast apart !! Oh and separate cars too.
Some great advice, I think you will agree, and points that we had mostly already taken on board so I am hoping our trip next weekend will not result in any major disputes. But have you got any more advice for us? I would love to hear it!
Photo of a group of friends courtesy of Shutterstock