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Group Getaways: 5 options for traveling together

June 5, 2013
Table setting at Villa Rio Chico in Jamaica.

These group getaways offer a perfect blend of time together and time apart.

Once you have figured out with whom you want to travel—whether your group is comprised of family or friends—here are five types of group getaways you may want to consider for your next trip:

Rental Villas 

A stay at a villa allows a group to remain together under one roof, with or without staff, in as many bedrooms as they want and can afford. This is one of my favorite options for family groups or friends. It is the only one that allows groups to have breakfast together while they are still in their pajamas. At night, each traveler can retreat to the privacy of his/her own room.

Some people are put off by the term “villa” because it hearkens back to Roman times when it was used almost exclusively to describe extravagant country estates. Although it still sounds chic, any condo apartment or free standing home for rent can technically be called a rental villa. With the popularity of internet rental sites like Airbnb, many of these properties can be viewed and booked online or thru a rental agent. Here are some tips to help find a villa for your group.

Villa de la Luz in Los Cabos sleeps up to 13 people in 5 bedrooms with 6 1/2 baths.

Villa de la Luz in Los Cabos sleeps up to 13 people in 5 bedrooms with 6 1/2 baths (Photo credit: CaboVillas.com)

Cruises

On ocean cruises, the number and range of activity and entertainment options is so vast that people of different ages can find things to do together and things to do apart—all of this, at almost at any hour of the day.

When families take cruises, parents can enjoy adult-only pools and spas, while their young children are supervised in a kids camp, or their teens find companions in a game room or disco. There are even board games and bingo for older grandparents. This makes cruising especially well suited for multigenerational groups. Even excursion options are varied enough to allow choices; additionally, some group members can leave the ship while others stay behind.

The Oreo shop on MSC Divina is a kid-pleaser

The Oreo cookie and candy shop on MSC Divina is a guaranteed kid-pleaser.

All-Inclusive Resorts

Since the heyday of Club Med, the number of all-inclusive resorts has been growing exponentially, particularly in the Caribbean and Mexico. Some of these resorts cater to adult-only groups and others are oriented toward families, even ones with very young children. Offering as much fun as a cruise ship on land, they are a perfect venue for girlfriend getaways or mancations.

When travelers stay at an all-inclusive resort, they pretty much know the price of their trips before they go; this makes it more relaxing than constantly having to worry about what charges will appear on their next credit card statement. Additionally, no one will have to pull out a calculator to figure out how to split a food or bar bill. At some resorts like Secrets The Vine in Cancun, even gratuities and international phone charges are included in “all-inclusive.”

One of the many water activities at Secrets The Vine in Cancun.

One of the many water activities at Secrets The Vine in Cancun.

Barge Tours 

Most hotel barges hold between 2 to 20 passengers, making them small compared to riverboats, which can hold hundreds of people. Many of these barges traverse the small waterways of Europe allowing them to dock right beside small towns and villages.

One family (not necessarily a very large one) or a group of friends can charter an entire barge for themselves, allowing them to personalize menus with the chef as well as day excursions. During evenings, they can enjoy time together in the lounge before they retire to their individual cabins.

A jolly European Waterways crew makes for a jolly group getaway.

A jolly European Waterways crew makes for a jolly group getaway.

Escorted River Tours

A number of tour companies like Grand Circle Travel, Viking Cruises, and AMA Waterways offer escorted tours that are also suitable for small groups of friends or family who want to explore new places together without the fuss of having to plan their own itinerary. Trained guides and program directors are invaluable in helping groups understand the culture and history of the towns they visit.

Even small towns will have attractions for people of all ages.
A merry-go-round in Avignon, France.

A merry-go-round in Avignon, France.

  • Reply
    Sheryl
    June 5, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I’m packing right now (in my head)!

  • Reply
    Gaelyn
    June 5, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    These all look like great places to journey with a group. Now if I could just find more than a couple friends I’m compatible enough to travel with.

  • Reply
    santafetraveler
    June 5, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    There are some great options here. I’m more of a couples traveler- but great things to check out for a trip a deux.

  • Reply
    Suzanne Fluhr (Just One Boomer)
    June 9, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    All things to think about when planning group travel. We did an intergenerational Alaska cruise with 10 family members from ages 13 to 90. There were “herding cats” moments, but it was a great trip.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      June 10, 2013 at 8:12 am

      I’m so envious that you had such a robust family group with which to travel! Those of us with small families have to compensate with friend getaways—which aren’t bad either:-)

  • Reply
    HeatherL
    June 10, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Have you ever experienced a barge tour? I’d be interested in hearing more about that.

  • Reply
    Marcia
    June 21, 2013 at 7:43 am

    These are all great options. Love the casualness of villas, it’s my preferred type of accommodation when I’m with a small group. Each time I see the Viking River Cruise commercial on PBS, I’m ready to pack my bags.

  • Reply
    Donna Hull
    June 22, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Great suggestions, Irene. Cruises and all-inclusive resorts make it especially easy to travel with a group. I especially like trips where everyone goes their own way during the day, then meets again over dinner to share what they did.

  • Reply
    Sand in my Suitcase
    June 26, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Renting a villa in Puerto Vallarta (which comes with a cook) can be a great cost-effective option for couples or multi-generational families. We’ve stayed at Casa Tres Vidas, and it was wonderful. http://www.casatresvidas.com/ (Next door is Quinta Maria Cortez – an atmospheric beachfront “Ann Rice meets the tropics” B&B http://www.quinta-maria.com/ – see more in our travel article http://www.nsnews.com/travel/Seaside+hideaways/6140882/story.html)

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