2. When it comes to meals, divide and conquer! Usually, two sisters pair up to plan and prepare dinner; that covers two nights for us. We all pitch in for breakfast and snacks, and either eat out or have leftovers for lunch. This way, we don’t have to eat out every meal, which is usually less expensive and more comfortable. Every year, we say we’re not going to bring so much food - and honestly, it is always less - but somehow we still end up taking home quite a bit. What can I say? We’re good southern women who love to cook and love to eat!
3. Plan activities, but don’t over-schedule. We usually try to have a day for shopping, knowing ahead of time that one vehicle will return before the other. That way, whoever gets tired first (usually the men or the kids!) can leave, the die-hards can close out the stores, and everyone is happy. We also plan some sort of outdoor activity, such as hiking or playing in the snow. This year, we went zip-lining and had so much fun! (Thanks, Greg and Craig, at Zipline Canopy Tours of Blue Ridge!)
5. Last, but not least, RELAX! If things don't go exactly as planned, don’t stress about it. Remember the reason you’re going on this trip together is to be together and build memories. Everything is not going to turn out perfectly, and that is okay. In fact, sometimes the best memories are made when things go wrong. Like the time we had to stop every thirty minutes for my son to go to the bathroom, and even that wasn’t enough - his poor, sweet cousin ended up holding a water bottle for him to use while we were stuck in traffic and couldn’t get off the interstate! Or, the time my husband nearly drove into the house because of ice in the driveway - my sister kept saying, “You can brake now! You can stop now!” and he kept saying, “I am! I am!” And, we still poke fun at my sister who brought enough Fred Flintstone-sized steaks to feed us all for the entire weekend. The point is to make the best of your time together and HAVE FUN!!
***As a side note, my husband’s grandfather treated us all to a 4-day Bahamas cruise for our Christmas present in 2015! A total of 32 of us sailed away together, and by sticking to these tips, we actually all returned still loving each other! We all found activities that suited our interests, sometimes with others, sometimes on our own, and we made sure that we all ate dinner together each evening. No one got thrown overboard, and we made wonderful memories together that will last a lifetime!