Two families, one holiday: What could possibly go wrong? Well, quite a lot, according to my Facebook page last week.
One innocent question unleashed a tirade of fury from families scorned. (And to be fair, some lovely stories, too.
One friend, Kate, said, when she took her two boys on a weekend away with friends and their three girls, it was a “total deal-breaker”.
“Hubby and I got up at 6am both days with all the kids,” she remembers. “They slept in until 9am-10am, so we took the kids out and entertained them. We got back and they’d made themselves breakfast and eaten it!”
And the stories didn’t just involve families with younger kids. The founder of parentingaustralia.com.au, Jane King, had the “biggest disaster” on holidays with another mother.
“Her 15-year-old drank their mini bar dry every night and supped on Long Island iced teas by the pool all day. Then she shared – in detail – about the affair she was having with her PT. NEVER AGAIN.”
Estelle Quiggan, from Stellar Formal Wear & Bridal in Sydney, says travelling with other families enhances the holiday experience of her only child, six-year-old Eva, “times 100”.
She says despite the adults having “a few idiosyncratic ticks, like the control freak type, OCD high energy type, needs alone-time type, the budget/spending control type and the just-trying-to-please-everyone type”, they all still get along.
“Planning time and talking with each other prior to leaving and during the trip to get an idea of each other’s expectation of the holiday is really important, especially if there are different parenting styles in the group.”
Travelling with other families is especially good for single parents, according to teenage girl educator Dannielle Miller.
“As a single mum, it was particularly nice to have the company at night once my kids were in bed,” she says.
It’s also good for parents whose kids go to single-sex schools.
Melbournians Jacki and Craig Bulman, from Bulman Partners, go to Byron Bay each year with friends who have three girls, the same age as their three boys.
“We stay in units next to each other but the kids are always together in one of them, now they’re older and more independent,” she says.
“We take turns in entertaining them daily, so one lot of parents can go out for lunch by themselves.”
However, be careful what you wish for. One year they invited too many families and found it a nightmare. “Way too many kids, opinions and noise!”
However, the top tip comes from inveterate traveller, and father of two, Chris Roe.
“Best part is, once kids are in bed the parents can all sit around and have a vino without worrying about driving anywhere.”