It seems the more kids you have, the more you NEED a vacation. It also seems that the more kids you have, the more difficult and expensive it is to find affordable large family vacations. Why is that?
Hotels and cruise lines base all of their pricing on "double adult rates". Well that's what the hotels call it. The cruise ships call it "1st & 2nd passengers". What this means is that rooms or cabins will charge 2 adult rates before any kids rates kick in.
In addition to rates, hotel rooms and cruise ship cabins also have occupancy rules...the maxiumum number of adults and children allowed in that particular space. Most parents of larger families know this occupancy rule usually is 2 adults and 2 kids under 12.
So how do rates and rules effect large family vacations?...Well if you are the parents of 3, 4 or more kids, chances are according to the rules you will need more than one room or cabin to fit everyone. According to the rates, this means two of your kids will end up paying adult rates. So what are some tips to make large family vacations more affordable for parents?...
1. Comparison shop - To find the best deals, you need to know the fine print and compare how it applies to your your specific family situation. Other factors like flights, transportation, activities etc. can all effect the budget's bottom line.
2. Age Matters -Particularly when it comes to hotel rules. One family of 5 hotel may allow 2 adults & 3 kids under 12. Other may allow 3 adults and 2 kids so your decision will be made for you if 1 of your kids is 13 or older. Age DOESN't matter for cruise ships. The cruise lines charge by the number of passengers regardless of age. This is why cruises are oftem more affordable for large family vacations.
3. "Kids Stay Free Deals" - Don't expect to find freebie deals during high demand travel times like December Holidays or spring break weeks, but they can certainly help offset costs during other popular vacation weeks. Also, don't expect ALL of your kids to for stay free. Usually hotels limit freebie kids either by the age of children allowed or the number of kids per room. Still, this can help offset costs for families that need to pay for more than one room.
4. Grandparents - Invite two more adults to join you if you need a second hotel rooms. They can help lend a hand wrangling the kids, they can pay the adult rates so your kids can qualify for any kids free deals.
5. Invite Even More Family & Friends Along - Groups offer freebies if you have enough people traveling with you. Generally the rule is you get one free stay for every 10 hotel rooms or 8 cruise ship cabins. Taking advantage of group discounts can certainly help make large family vacations more affordable, not to mention more fun with friends and family along.
Of course, affordablity needs to be balanced with the right sort of vacation features you need to keep your entire family happy. No point getting a great deal if your family is going to be misereable for their week of vacation...especially if extended family members will be joining you. Everyone needs to be comfortable and have fun.
Occupancy rules and "kids stay free" offers can often change with each season. This is certainly a situation where a travel agent can help you compare your family's needs with rules and offers to find the best deal for your large family vacation.