A reunion necessitates a lot of planning. Organizing the travel, accommodations, transportation, and activities while keeping everyone happy is always a challenge of the first order. Thankfully, with Parker Villas to help you out, a lot of the work won't really fall on your shoulders. In addition to renting beautiful, hand-picked villas to rent all over Italy and Tuscany we also arrange almost every aspect of your trip.
You know your family better than anyone, and most of these trips are multi-generational and include people with varying interests. It’s important to take a few of these key pointers into consideration when collaborating with us:
Consider the special and varying needs of all
· • Accommodate grandparents - Take into consideration any guests who may need bedrooms on the ground level with fewer steps. They also may not be up for an aggressive touring schedule and wish to spend more time at the house relaxing. Living areas and kitchens should be easily accessible. Having a large patio or garden area with particularly scenic views of the surrounding countryside is a plus.
· • Plan for little ones / kids – Younger family members need space to run around, such as a large lawn or garden. All rental homes have kitchens - allowing parents to prepare meals that will make picky kids happy. Many children are not adventurous eaters (no matter how good the cuisine), so having a kitchen to make grilled cheese, snacks and portable sandwiches for the day out can be a real lifesaver.
· • Allow for some separation – Elders or those without kids may not be used to traveling with kids - a baby crying in the middle of the night impacts everyone’s vacation. By assigning family groups separate floors, renting a house with a detached cottage or opting for an estate with multiple housing units everyone gets a better night’s sleep.
· • Choose a large space for dining and socializing together – If you feel your family is apt to spend time at your vacation house rather than sightseeing, the living and dining areas become more of a priority when selecting your home away from home.
Don't overdo togetherness
Reconnecting with family that you haven't seen in years is a special occasion and a rarity. While you want to enjoy precious time on this memorable trip, you also want to be mindful of too much togetherness. Everyone needs a little alone time, even on a family reunion trip, so don't plan out every minute of every day.
• On a weekly trip, plan 3 or 4 scheduled day trip activities – These could include a guided city tour, a cooking class, a wine tour, a shopping expedition, etc. Remember to include a variety of activities so that everyone has something to look forward to.
• Plan 2-3 group dinners at the villa, but not every night – Vacation rentals can arrange for a cook so that everyone can relax and socialize instead of worrying about cooking and cleaning. However, there will be some days when guests want to venture out on longer day trips and dine in the town they are visiting rather than rush back to the villa.
• Make Wednesday a free day – Mid week is always a great point to leave open as a free day. This allows Mary to go buy her shoes, Bob to go golfing, and Betty to relax by the pool. Time for pursuing individual interests, keeps everyone happier on the trip.
• Arrange for daily breakfast at a villa rental – This is a great way to get started before heading out on a tour or a short day trip to the coast. No one has to get up early to make breakfast or spend time doing the dishes when they could be out enjoying the Italian countryside.
• Suggest one week for the family reunion and a second week for your own family – A combo vacation is a great way to spend time with the entire gang and also a little bonding time with your own family – two great experiences in one vacation!
• Consider renting a couple of smaller cars instead of a group van – A Partridge Family- style bus with sing-alongs sounds great, but what happens when the group wants to separate? Maybe one person wants to spend hours at the Roman ruins while another cannot leave Italy without buying a new Gucci bag. Families have diverse interests and you want everyone to enjoy the trip. Renting several smaller cars rather than a large van allows everyone to have some independence and no regrets about missed opportunities. Getting two smaller cars also costs less than getting a large van – and are easier to drive on curvy country roads!
• Rent a bus for a day – For an outing such as a winery tour or scenic drive through Italy's hill towns, it is possible to rent a bus with a driver for a day to make the logistics easier.
Bring a favorite babysitter along
• It will be worth it in the long run – The extra airline ticket is a good investment, since wine tours and museums are traditionally not kid favorites.
• Bringing someone you trust allows for worry-free vacationing – Rather than trying to engage a stranger for the job, bring someone you feel comfortable entrusting with your children's safety and well-being. This allows you to enjoy your time at a wine tour or late dinner without wondering if your kids are ok, have gotten to bed on time, etc.
• Your kids will be less anxious – Many kids can be unsettled in unfamiliar surroundings, especially if their parents leave to go sightseeing. Having someone they know and trust helps them settle into their new environment and enjoy their time too.
When it's time to start the planning, everyone says "count me in," but how do you get the ball rolling?
• Select a group leader – Group e-mails are fun when initial ideas are being tossed around, but you'll need a leader to move things along and make some final decisions.
• Collect a deposit by a given deadline – Setting a firm deadline for payments is a great way to see who is serious about the trip and who is content to dream. This is important because, whether you rent a house, book a tour, reserve hotels, etc., establishing the number of people involved is often the first thing you have to do.
• Include travel insurance in the budget – While some people debate the value of travel insurance for smaller trips, it is invaluable in an endeavor as large as a family reunion. But should you purchase a group policy? Individual insurance? Actually, the best option is to have each family buy their own policy. This means that if one family group has a mishap and cannot make the trip, said family can get a refund and the trip continues on.
• Start planning at least a year in advance to find available space – Since most large groups rent in June, July, and September, be sure to book well ahead of time to find accommodations during these months. If you are planning a trip at the last minute, searching for shoulder or off-season months may be your best option for availability. Prices can be pleasantly lower as well.
At Parker Villas, we've helped thousands of people plan their family reunions and know the questions to ask to help you consider everyone's needs. All of our large villas offer the option of breakfast and dinner service, cooking classes, and additional cleaning. We also arrange for hotels, rental cars, day tours – our one-stop arrangements help make it easy to keep a large group trip organized. Contact us for more information today!