Planning a Family Reunion: How To Get Started

Maybe you are thinking about how to plan a family reunion. Here are some quick guidelines you might find useful for getting started. Keep in mind that Pickwick Travel can provide any assistance you might need in setting up or organizing a family reunion vacation or any other type of group travel.
Set up committees

Don’t go it alone. Share the work. Everyone has different skills and experience to bring to the planning. More than likely, you’ll have to do this long-distance with emails and phone calls.

Some of the different ways you can divide up the organizing—
• Food/Catering Committee
• Communications–Compile a list of invites and send invitations. Keep guests in the loop with updates. (See below: “Creating a family information web site.”)
• Establish one person to collect money and keep track of the finances.
• Activities, decorating, putting together a memorabilia table.
• Committee to organize the set-up and clean-up.

Create a timeline & payment schedule

The first meeting should be to determine what kind of get-together you want to have– a one-day party, a weekend, a family vacation week, or a cruise. Use a spreadsheet to keep track of deposits and final payments.

Set up a budget
Remember to add up all the little things. You may want to pad it just a little for unexpected expenses.

Things to budget for–
Venue rental * Banquet/Catering cost * Decorations * Invitations and postage * Entertainment * Family website * Welcome packets and award gifts.


After your planning committee is formed and dates and location are established, the next step is to fill in the details.

If you are going to block hotel room space at a group discount, be careful–some hotels require a contract with an attrition clause.
• Negotiating guest rooms sometimes involves an attrition clause, which basically guarantees the hotel that you will use a certain percentage of the guest rooms contracted or blocked. Most standard hotel contracts have an 80 percent attrition rate, where the group is financially responsible for eight out of 10 guest rooms blocked even if they aren’t reserved. It’s vital to go into a contract negotiation knowing your group. If you overestimate the number of rooms needed, you may find yourself receiving a hefty attrition bill at the end.

Create a family information website.
There are several internet companies that let you create a small simple website for events. These websites are reasonable–around $10/month. You can also set-up a Facebook page.
Catering/Banquet room
Buffet style is best and is usually the most affordable for a group. When getting a quote, be sure to get beverage (non-alcoholic) and gratuities included in the per-person cost. If you are planning far in advance, touch base with the restaurant manager or sales director periodically to ensure they are still in their positions, and confirm that your group reservation is still on the schedule. At least a week before event call to give them your final head count.

Escorted Tours Designed for Families

Escorted tours for families are a fairly new market concept. In the last few years several leading tour operators have begun to reach out to families traveling with school age children, as well as to grandparents who like to travel with grandchildren. Escorted tours have also become known for attracting retired folks.
Tour operators have taken escorted tours and made them kid-friendly, involving them in cultural activities, and introducing them to natural wonders in an active, learning, and doing way. Some of the most popular destinations are Australia, Europe, China, and the U.S. National Parks. As an example, Disney Adventures has even added long weekend trips to cities such as San Francisco, New York, and Nashville.
Some of the unique activities you’ll see in a European itinerary are speedboat rides on the Thames River, Harry Potter castle tours, and a scavenger hunt at the Louvre museum. Family tours at other destinations include hikes in Yosemite, a pizza party with s’mores at a campfire on Lake Powell, or a visit to a Dude Ranch outside of San Antonio, Texas.
For busy parents with not a lot of time to plan, escorted tours are stress-free and can feature:

  • Experienced guides
  • Tours which are all-inclusive of activities/excursions and most meals
  • Pre-paying the trip in advance
  • Traveling with other families so that kids have built-in new friends

…because after all: Happy kids on vacation mean happy relaxed parents.