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Traveling As A Family of Five | What Are Your Options?

As a travel agent, I deal with travel groups of all sizes. But none complicate plans more than the family of five. Why? Because the travel industry wasn’t made for families our size. Groups of four can easily share a standard room, and groups of 6+ can break up into two or three, but traveling as a family of five? Where do we put that third child?

I share the struggle as a fellow Mom of three, but it hasn’t stopped us from having amazing vacations. It just requires a little more research and planning. It is harder to take advantage of last minute deals.

Cruising As A Family of Five

I always feel bad for the family of five who emails me wanting to book cruise. Don’t get me wrong, it can be done. We’ve enjoyed several vacations on the high seas. There’s a few things you’ll need to be aware of, though.

A Verandah room for five aboard the Disney Dream. This photo only shows HALF of the space and had a separate toilet and shower/bathtub room.

Only a select number of cruise lines offer spacious rooms for five. Both Disney and Norwegian offer balcony or window view rooms that will sleep up to three children, and Carnival has some inside rooms, but they are limited. Advance bookings are highly recommended as they will sell out.

Lines like Royal Caribbean or Princess will give you the option of upgrading to a suite, but at a cost. These rooms will set you back more than an ocean view category would.

Connecting rooms are a good way to go if you have your heart set on a specific cruise line or itinerary. You can split up into a three and two set up, or invite a set of grandparents along for the oldest child to share with. This is particularly a good route when there are deals on for Kids Sail Free or 50% off a second guest.

Think about your budget, think about your reasons for wanting to do a cruise in the first place, and then you can make a decision that will suit the needs of your family.

The All-Inclusive Vacation

I struggle here, folks. All-inclusives are wonderful because they’re warm weather vacations that include all your food and drinks. Are they the most budget friendly for a family of five though? Probably not. You can likely do a beach vacation for cheaper if you don’t have easy access to three meals a day.

There are some serious benefits to an All-Inclusive like this Memories Resort in The Bahamas. We had to split up into two rooms to stay here, but it was definitely relaxing!

If your heart is truly set on not lifting a finger in the kitchen, then there are locations to accommodate your larger-than-average family. An added bonus is that many will come with a kids club or teen activity center!

Resorts like Beaches Turks & Caicos, Melia Caribe Tropical, and Grand Riviera Princess offer many room categories, some of which include partitions to give the illusion of a separate bedroom.

Chat with your travel agent about priorities in regards to location and amenities, and we’ll do our best to find your ideal place of total relaxation.

Booking a Group Tour

Can you book a group tour as a family of five? Sure you can, but you’ll have to split up into two rooms. European hotel rooms are especially known for their smaller sizes, so count on being separated and likely not connected.

There are many tour groups that accept families on their itineraries, such as Cosmos and Adventures by Disney. Some may have an age limit of 8+ or a simply a suggested age limit of 4+. This is because of car seats and/or the inability to stop for younger children who need a break.

Pink Jeep Tours was a great way to experience Sedona! We had a private guide who took us into the back country for 2.5 hours of exploration.

If you have young kids, I suggest booking a private tour. Surprisingly, this doesn’t necessarily mean a higher cost. It can actually be cheaper to form your own tour group and you’ll have more say in regards to your itinerary.

Take Spirit of Ireland for example. They’ll pick you up and drop you off at the airport, tour you around for as many hours or days at you want, and be your personal guide to local attractions and historic monuments. They’ll even arrange for a car seat to be in the vehicle upon pick up. Now that’s an easy adventure!

Saving Money As a Family of Five

Now let’s talk about how you can save money as a family of five vacationing together. These tips can apply to just about any vacation destination aside from a cruise. It’s time to think outside the box a bit.

This large room at a chain hotel can sleep up to six people. We paid about $150 CAD a night and it included full breakfast.

First of all, consider booking a suite instead of a standard hotel room. Chains like Hampton Inn, Staybridge, and Holiday Inn’s all offer units with partial or full kitchens. The rooms may provide two queens and a pull out couch or 1 and 2 bedroom suites. Many will even include a complimentary breakfast each morning, saving you even more cash and making that morning rush a tad easier.

Another option is to rent a time share through an owner or directly from the Resort. Many hotels like Aulani in Hawaii, Hilton Grand Vacations on Oahu, or Disney’s Wilderness Lodge have one or two bedroom suites with full kitchens. You’ll have separate bedrooms, multiple bathrooms, laundry facilities and a living room to spread out in.

“Keep up, kids! Niagara Falls is just up ahead!”

Getting a grocery delivery and putting snacks or easy meals into the fridge will substantially bring down the cost of your vacation. Feeding five people for three meals a day plus snacks adds up fast, but buy purchasing basics like bananas and bottles of water from a grocer will help immensely.

You should also consider renting a car. I admit, this adds a bit more stress to the trip, but it also gives you a ton of flexibility. You’re completely on your own schedule and have the ability to go where you want, when you want to go there. Airport transfers often run close to $200 for a return trip alone, and you don’t want to rely on an taxi or shuttle every time you want to leave your hotel.

Final Thoughts For The Family of Five

A shady nap – the ultimate in vacation mode.

In closing, remember that some costs are unavoidable when it comes to traveling as a family of five. If you don’t want to lift a finger or worry about getting to and from your destination, you’ll have to pay for that convenience.

Maybe that means saving up a little longer, or perhaps you’ll have to opt for a location that’s five minutes from the beach instead of directly on it. The good news is, we travel agents are great at helping you figure out that balance. That’s what we’re here for!

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