The “Dos” and “Don’ts” of large group exchanges
Whether traveling with a large collection of family members or group made up of your family-of-choice, there are some things to consider when planning an Exchange.
Going on an Exchange with a big group is a great way to keep costs down and to take that trip you have been dreaming about. Before you go, here are a few things you should think about:
Do: Plan a trip that has something for everyone
One of the best ways to keep everyone on your Exchange happy is to plan out special activities or side-trips for each age group. Perhaps it is giving the children something to wear them out during the day so that the adults can some child-free time to interact at night. Be it a museum, a day at the house, or something more adventurous, take a moment to think about everyone who will be with you.
Don’t: Count on everything running smoothly
The adage “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” is especially true when traveling with a large group. No matter how much forethought you put into your trip, there are always going to be little hiccups along the way. Someone might forget to pack something or another person might get sick. Whatever it is that happens, just know you’ll make it through. In the end you’ll all have a survival story to bring back as a souvenir.
Do: Let your Exchange Partner know how many people will be staying at their home
HomeExchange is built on trust. It is one of the hallmarks of our community. That means, when it comes to arranging an exchange, it is best to be upfront. Let your host know how many family members or friends you are planning on bringing along. That way they know what to expect and there won’t be any hard feelings. Sure, there may be a chance that some exchange options might be reticent to exchange but you will also have an opportunity to explain how well you will take care of their home.
Don’t: Wait to talk money until after you arrive
There are few types of conversations that can be as uncomfortable as talking about expenses after you have already spent the money. Make a point to talk through with the travel group on how everyone will divide up the cost of the stay. Will everyone pay an equal share or will you track specific costs? Does everyone put money into an envelope at the beginning of the Exchange and draw from it for group items or does each person cover their own way? Whatever you decide, being clear at the beginning of the trip will make sure you are still talking when you get home.
Do: Book specific events for everyone to attend
One of the best parts of traveling with family and friends is having the opportunity to share special experiences. The added perk of being with a larger group is that you have the chance to make the most of group discounts. You never know how much you might save if you don’t ask!
Don’t: Eat in every night
Sure, one of the nicest things about HomeExchange is the fact that you have a kitchen at your disposal. That said, having to cook and clean every night can get on the nerves of even the happiest of people. Give it it a rest and look for some local flavor to test out. Find a restaurant near a location that the children can play after dinner while the grown-ups have some time for themselves or head into town and let people explore and find the food they would most like to enjoy. Just don’t forget to schedule a place to meet up afterwards.
Do: Make the most out of your Exchange
In the end, the point of an exchange is to spend time together. Try not to get so caught up in the planning that you forget to sit back and enjoy the memories. These moments are precious for you and your travel companions.
Now it’s your turn, HomeExchangers. Do you have any tips of what to do or not do when planning a larger group exchange? We’d love to hear them in the comments below.