Framily Fun Ideas!

And…it’s Monday again.

Seems like that keeps happening over here.

This Monday, I’m doing something a little different.  Right after our Colorado trip, Erika and I both had so many people reach out via blog comments, FB comments or email to say how they really like see our families little “framily” adventures.  We had several people ask us if we would blog fun ideas that we’ve done together, and thus…today’s posts were born.

Erika is over on her blog talking about the fun framily date nights we have, and I’m going to talk about our trips (and why we pick where we do for family vacations together).  At our travel agency, we book a lot of “framily” trips for different families.  I don’t know if it’s that we’re all at the right ages with our kids that makes traveling together so fun or what?  But it is VERY common for us to book trips for two families together.  So, today, we’re going to talk about our trips and we’re hoping you share trip ideas too!!  We would love your suggestions for upcoming framily vacations!!

Before we begin, a little back story for those of you who are new around here…

…we met the Slaughters at church about 10 years ago.  We were all young, newly-ish married without kids.  We knew each other, but it was when we both discovered that we were having fertility problems that Erika and I really clicked.  She was a teacher, I was in the insurance industry and we were both going through the yucky struggles of infertility…and it bonded us.  (You can see my post/recap of my infertility story HERE.)  Our hubbies were quick to click too…

…they both were in the insurance field, both had played college football and it took no time at all for them to click as well.

So, we bonded over our struggles to have kiddos and then BAM…

…in 18 months, we had four babies. (God has the BEST timing!)

So, that’s how it’s all started.  We “do life” together all the time at home (the kids play sports together, we go to church together, the kids all go to the same schools, we live within walking distance of each other, etc), and the adults had traveled together…

In Nashville

…in New York City

…in Park City

…but our first trip with all the kids wasn’t until we signed up for our first Disney Cruise

…and it was on that trip that we decided we would take “framily” vacations together until we had them all married off 😉 .

We had THE BEST TIME!  Of course we had fun because Disney Cruises are just SPECTACULAR, but we also had fun because our kids LOVED being with their friends (a treat for all of them since they typically travel with just siblings).  By the way, if you missed my posts on Disney Cruises, you can see them here…

Okay, I love this picture because 1: Where is Bowen???  and 2: Ashby is sobbing because she doesn’t want our day at the Atlantis to end. #signofagoodtrip

Based on our experience and planning so many family or framily trips at our travel agency, here is why I think cruising is great for a crowd…

1: Almost all of your money situations are eliminated.  When I plan trips for mixed guests, I find that everyone is nervous about the money issue.  Some people want to spend more on meals, some people want to spend less on room accommodations.  It doesn’t matter the destination, if it’s mixed company (meaning, groups of friends and not a married couple), clients always ask me about this because no one wants to offend anyone, yet, people have different expectations for different things (some people prefer to spend more on food while others want to save on food and spend more on excursions).  With a cruise, most of this is eliminated and paid for beforehand.  You can all pick the kind of cabin you want (paying more or less as desired for the type of room), yet you’re still “together” and all of your meals are paid for and included, so you’re not fussing over where to eat/how much to spend/etc.

2: You’re together, but you’re not at the same time.  On our Alaskan Cruise I loved knowing that my whole family was on the boat together, but at the same time, there was so much to do to that we weren’t always “together”.  Cruises give you space but keep you together at the same time.

3: You get to see a lot without moving your luggage.  One more thing I love about cruising with people is that you are able to see so much and cover a lot of ground, but you always have a “home base” to come back to.  It’s a pain to move your luggage and change hotel rooms when it’s just your family traveling, so it would be an even bigger pain to do it with a large group.  Cruises are great because you unpack once and that’s it.

If you missed my tips for packing for a cruise, you can see that HERE.

Another trip we loved doing with all of our kids was…

…just parking ourselves at one resort for a few days.

This past summer, we drove to the JW Marriott in San Antonio for a few easy days by the pool.  We literally only brought pajamas and swimsuits for everyone to wear.  We sat by the pool all day, ate dinner, went to bed kind of early and repeated.  That was such an easy trip for two families to do together…and we had THE BEST TIME!!

And our most recent trip together was the one that spurred all of the questions…we met up in Colorado for a few days of fun!

This trip required a little more planning because we had to make dinner reservations (opentable.com is the best place to make reservations for large parties like this in cities you don’t know), coordinate skiing/childcare/etc, but we loved it!  I think picking a very family-friendly city (Breckenridge) was a good idea because there were kids everywhere, parks, a children’s museum and other things to keep kids happy/occupied and having fun even if they weren’t on the slopes.  I also thought we did good with the location of our hotel.  We picked a spot that was in walking distance of the mountain and the town, so we weren’t having to pile into cars, drive, find parking, etc.  We could walk out and go right where we wanted.

So, Erika and I have our framily trips planned between now and 2050 😉 .  We have ideas that include road trips, all-inclusives, other cruises and more.  Since we know so many of you are traveling with friends, we would love to know where you’re going too!  Please comment and share.  We covet new and fun ideas to do with our party of 12!  And don’t forget to see some of our framily date night activities, head over to Erika’s blog HERE. xo

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  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog February 5, 2018 at 4:38 am

    I miss cruises! I’ve only been on one as a kid and would love to go again now that I’m older!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  • Melissa February 5, 2018 at 5:23 am

    So. Much.fun!!! I love the pic of you and Erika with your first babies. So sweet😊

  • Elspeth Mizner February 5, 2018 at 5:34 am

    Love your framily trips!!! How fun!

  • Sheaffer Sims February 5, 2018 at 5:45 am

    Fun post! I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that when y’all are ALL together, there’s 12 of you. WHOAH.

  • Narci February 5, 2018 at 6:06 am

    ove all of these great ideas, and this is totally making me want to book another cruise. So fun!

  • Erika Slaughter February 5, 2018 at 6:25 am

    And you forgot to mention those kiddos that continue traveling with us after they get married-will get better Christmas presents. Hahahahaha!!! Bribing them to spend time with us! This post made me wanna book flights somewhere fun tomorrow. Pack your bags, friend!

  • Alexis deZayas February 5, 2018 at 6:30 am

    So much fun!! We’ve done Gatlinburg, cruises, skiing, and beaches!

  • Erin Port February 5, 2018 at 6:43 am

    We do a lot of large family trips. We just went to Seattle this fall and we have been to Florida, Colorado, Canada, etc. We love Air B n B’s because there is room for everyone to stay together and the cost is more manageable! xoxo ERIN

  • Kat Anthony February 5, 2018 at 6:46 am

    Question! I’ve read that you get terrible motion sickness and I am right there with you (airplane turbulence is my nightmare), do you have any special tricks to deal with this on a cruise or does it jut not bother you because the boat is so big?

    • Mix and Match Mama February 5, 2018 at 7:10 am

      It does not bother me on boats this big. Out of all the cruises I’ve been on, I’ve only been sick once and it was very turbulent!

    • Timmarie February 5, 2018 at 7:57 am

      I have a terrible propensity for sea sickness (even on cruise ships). I use a prescription scopolamine patch and have had no issues! There are also many other non-pharmaceutical options to try out!

  • Courtney February 5, 2018 at 7:36 am

    Thanks for sharing, Shay! It’s always nice to travel with friends and family once in a while. I can’t wait to see where you head next. What about Disney World? 🙂

    XO
    Courtney
    http://www.greywoodmama.com

  • Jessica February 5, 2018 at 7:37 am

    I love ideas for big families! Are there cabins on the ship that accommodate 6 that are a reasonable price. I have always wanted to go on one, but have not looked into it because usually they are for 4 or 5 in each room. The same with Disney world. We are going at the end of this month before my youngest turns 3. I don’t know if we will be able to afford it once we have 4 kids over 3 years old. Thanks for the tips!

  • Bren February 5, 2018 at 7:39 am

    I love reading your framily posts as we’ve traveled with a large group too: my husband’s family. There were 14 of us for the first trip, but now our family has grown to 15 with the addition of our little niece. 🙂 Our family has done Estes Park and Colorado Springs in the summer (Garden of the Gods horseback riding, Pikes Peak, there’s the Olympic training center, the Air Force Academy and so much more). in 2016 13 of us rented a house and stayed near the beach in New Smyrna, Florida and this summer, all 15 of us PLUS some boyfriends-girlfriends (we’ve hit the teen years) will be heading to the Ozarks for fun on the lakes!

  • Leslie Sanderson February 5, 2018 at 7:43 am

    Where did you stay in Breckenridge?

    • Mix and Match Mama February 5, 2018 at 12:11 pm

      Marriott!

  • Jessica February 5, 2018 at 7:54 am

    We’ve done disney already with our family but Id love to try a super family friendly all inclusive! I was looking at Beaches Turks & Caicos. It looks AMAZING….have you guys looked into that?

  • Lynn Baker February 5, 2018 at 8:03 am

    What about Washington DC? My husband and I are taking our 11 year old grandson there in May. We have never been and I was wondering if you had some ideas or thoughts on what would be the best way to spend our time there with our grandson.

  • Shelby Bourgeois @xoShelby February 5, 2018 at 8:05 am

    We’ve done framily trips to the Florida Beaches, to Disney, Vegas/The Grand Canyon, and Gatlinburg! I conpetitively danced for many many years so my friends’ parents because my parents beat friends so any dance trip became a huge framily trip and IT. WAS. AWESOME! Some of my favorite memories from childhood!

  • Michelle February 5, 2018 at 8:07 am

    We just took our first vacation with friends over Thanksgiving break and it was so much fun! We went to Gatlinburg, TN. We rented cabins in the same area and did some things together as a big group, some just boys, some just girls and some just each family separately. It was the best vacation we had taken in a long time!
    This year we’re thinking of taking a beach vacation with friends – adults parked in chairs while kids run around and play. Sounds good to me!

  • Jenn February 5, 2018 at 8:10 am

    Check out Five Points on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs. You can rent log cabins (actually priced extremely cheap!) for 12-18 and spend a few days on the lake. Only an 4 hr drive from DFW! While you’re there let the dads take the kids hiking while the moms enjoy spa row- Quapaw is the best one! A cute town, shopping, good food, even a casino and lots of time outdoors with your framily. You’d love it!

  • Amanda @ That Inspired Chick February 5, 2018 at 8:12 am

    Y’all’s framily bond is so sweet! I love that each kid has their own counterpart! That Inspired Chick

  • Melinda February 5, 2018 at 8:16 am

    We love to go camping with extended family 🙂 every Labor Day my husband’s entire family (we’re talking great aunts, 3rd cousins, everyone!) heads to Noel, Missouri (everyone lives in south central Kansas)for 4 days of floating and playing on the river. Vacationing with a big group is definitely fun!

  • Melanie Wiebe February 5, 2018 at 8:37 am

    What do you do about child care if you want a night out on a framily trip? I would have a really hard time trusting a stranger although on a cruise they probably have kids clubs etc. Thanks for the tips!

    • Mix and Match Mama February 5, 2018 at 12:11 pm

      On framily trips, we haven’t done child care. On Disney Cruises, they have an amazing Kids Club, but our kids would only go for a little bit. We primarily did everything with them.

  • Anna S February 5, 2018 at 8:43 am

    Your trips remind me of the wonderful times I had growing up with close family friends. To this day, people in our little town think we are related somehow because we spend so much time together. As your kids grow up, I would recommend going to see some of our National Parks. My favorites: Grand Teton, Arches, Zion, and Great Sand Dunes. These places always make me think about how amazing our creator is.

  • Angela Ellingson February 5, 2018 at 8:45 am

    So much fun! We don’t have any framily trips planned (although that would be fun), but we do have plans to hit up all 48 continental states before my oldest is 18. She’s 7 now. 🙂

  • sydnee February 5, 2018 at 8:45 am

    The more the merrier!

    x S | Design by Sydnee 💗

  • Sarah Beuligmann February 5, 2018 at 8:46 am

    Would love to hear your ideas for all inclusive trips with young children? So many resorts will only accommodate 2 or 3 children and we have 5 so it’s making it hard to figure out!!

  • Steph February 5, 2018 at 8:58 am

    Check out Macinaw Island, Michigan. No cars on the island- only horse & buggy rides. You could also visit Sleeping Bear Dunes (close enough) voted most beautiful place in America in 2012 on GMA! Great spot!

  • Melissa February 5, 2018 at 9:01 am

    We have a few families who we love to travel with. And a few we don’t (although we are good friends!). We typically do Ski and beach vacations but this year we are going to the PNW for a trip with more sightseeing and moving around. Hope it works out!!!

  • Ami February 5, 2018 at 9:46 am

    Our framily of 17 (sometimes 18) is planning out our trips for this year (the beach, probably Destin) and next (Disney, yikes). I was really glad to see this post today!

  • Casey February 5, 2018 at 9:58 am

    Fun! We travel with 4 other families for a week every summer. So far Door County Wisconsin, Branson Missouri, Black Hills in South Dakota, Rocky Mountains in Colorado. We stay in hotels, cabins, resorts and camp. I think we all prefer when there’s a kitchen and a community space for games and late night conversations. We usually eat dinner together if that means checking out a local restaurant or cooking together. Lunch is usually sandwiches, snacky food depending on the day. Planning involves spreadsheets!- money, accommodations, 2 crockpots, even games we bring- we don’t need 4 versions of Clue. We usually pencil in whole group activities like Mount Rushmore Tuesday afternoon or theater tickets on Thursday night. But overall the vibe is whatever works for you and your family. Also built in babysitters if we want to go out by ourselves. We usually do a moms night out! Lots of sleepovers and car switching for the children. We just have the best time together!

  • Wendy February 5, 2018 at 10:21 am

    I love this! We have one family that we go skiing with every year and then two other families that we do summer trips together with. So thankful for our framilies – because we all know it takes a village!

  • Lauren Barnett February 5, 2018 at 11:01 am

    This past July, my “framily” of 11 went to Hawaii for 12 days together. We cruised around the islands and stayed a couple of days in Honolulu on Waikiki beach in a resort. It required meticulous planning, but it was FUN!

  • Karen February 5, 2018 at 11:03 am

    We LOVE cruising with friends. I’m 26 and I’ve been cruising with friends since middle school 🙂 It’s wonderful to do our own thing with shore excursions (sometimes meet up!) during the day and then all reconvene at dinner to tell stories of our day. The most fun we ever had was with a group of 16 (mostly adults!) and we all got balcony rooms in a row. (Idk about other cruiselines) but Royal Caribbean lets you open up your balconies to adjoin so we had one big, long balcony for sail away parties each evening! So fun!!

  • Gail Young February 5, 2018 at 11:44 am

    For years my husbands brother and family join us at a cabin on a lake with a dock for our boat. Now that our kids are all grown, they drive up for dinner and wakeboarding or come for the weekend since it is only 45 minutes from both of our houses. There is usually a paddle board or two and sometimes a nephew brings a jet ski. We have been going for about 20 years so the kids learned to fish, do water sports, puzzles, games , etc.
    We have also gone to the same place on Maui together. Other times on Maui our next door neighbors joined us twice, and this year our son and his wife, and our daughter in laws parents came. We always get two cars so that everyone has options. We go to a different beach every day, and in the afternoons it is pool time, or a nap, or an adventure for for the more active people. Evenings are for games, a beach walk, running around on the huge lawns, or an evening pool swim and usually we go to bed early after all the fresh air and exercise. Our son does an early morning surfing time right in front of the condo and then we leave for the beach. This is our favorite place and we have been able to go many times…so worth it for fun, sun, and family time!

  • Meghan February 5, 2018 at 11:50 am

    Question! My husband and I would like to go back to Europe this summer with our 18 month old. What cities are the best for a child that young? Last time we went we didn’t have any kids. Thank you!

    • Mix and Match Mama February 5, 2018 at 12:09 pm

      I’m probably the wrong person to ask because my answer is “go where you want and your kiddo will have fun” 🙂 . At that age, they’re just along for the ride, I would go where you want to go. You’ll find parks, museums, etc all over. Kids are easily entertained 🙂 .

      • Meghan February 6, 2018 at 10:05 am

        Thank you! Love reading your blog!

  • Adina Webb February 5, 2018 at 11:53 am

    I’ve been reading your blog for years but have never commented! My husband and I do a “couples trip” every January and a “family trip” every August with our college roommates and their families. Each year, a different family picks the destination for the family trip (in the continental US) – that family plans everything from where we stay, where we eat, what activities we do and what sites to see. We’re on our 12th year (our kids ages range from 2 – 15) and it’s the thing all of our kids look forward to the most! I love hearing that other families are doing this too!

  • Patty Anderson February 5, 2018 at 11:53 am

    Love this post! We did an extended family cruise to Alaska a few years ago and loved it. We could go off to do our own things but we met up at dinner each night and recapped our day. Next week my husband and I are leaving for a cruise around New Zealand. We’re meeting friends we don’t get to see often enough and I can hardly wait! Thanks for the cruise packing list. Timely!

  • Kayla Bruce February 5, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    Love this post! I’ve traveled mostly with my cousins, and I think Airbnbs are the way to go if not doing a cruise. Then everyone can stay in the same house, but people generally have their own room/ space to get away to!

  • cassie {hi sugarplum} February 5, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    These are so amazing!! Are ya’ll accepting new Framilies to the group?! 😉 xo

  • Erin riggs February 5, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    Shay, can you recommend a toiletry bag you use for yourself on trips? We always seem to be lugging an extra suitcase just for everyone’s toiletries!

    • Mix and Match Mama February 6, 2018 at 5:17 am

      I just pack mine in my carry on. Nothing fancy! I try to buy “mini” everything!

  • Allison February 5, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    One of the best trips I’ve ever been on was with my extended family (14 in total) to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. We rented one huge house right on the beach and it was so fun.

  • Shelley Caldwell February 5, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    Love cruises…we go every year but this year we are taking two cruises. Hubby & I are going the end of this month for 7 days and then I am going again in May with my sister for a girls trip for seven days. I always get a room with a balcony and like to sit, read, and watch water float by with the occasional sea turtle or dolphin that pop up ….so relaxing. Cruises are the way to go.

  • Jen February 5, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    Is the JW Mariott in San Antonio worth a trip from New England? I’ve been checking it out, it looks so fun! Is there anything to do nearby?

    • Mix and Match Mama February 6, 2018 at 5:17 am

      No, I bet there is a hotel/resort nearby where you can do the same thing!

  • Leanne February 5, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    We raised our 3 children very closely with 2 other families. We have 9 children among us that currently range in age from 20 to 37. Although we never travelled together when they were growing up, in 2010 all our children got together and decided we need an annual trip. So we started them. The first year there were 17 of us, including 2 grandkids. We’ve made our trips very simple. We go to a small Texas beach town and rent a large house for a week end. Currently, we are filling up a 9 bedroom house! When we started our trips our kids made up these rules: No one can invite other friends to come. (The purpose of the trip is to stay connected as they no longer live at home or even in the same city.) You can’t bring someone unless you are engaged, with a ring on the finger and a date set. (My son in law says his first time to come was the most expensive trip he’s ever taken. Ha!) We have added several by marriage (now up to 21) and will add another grand child this year. All this to say, don’t ever give up your “framily” trips if you don’t have to. It is a joy to spend time with the adult “kids” and to see the bond they still have with each other. I treasure these trips.

  • Hope Adkins February 5, 2018 at 5:22 pm

    My mom’s family always gets together every year and heads to Nags Head NC. We book a house to accommodate all 15 of us and we look forward to it every year. We have been doing this for 30 years so we know our way around down there. We always get a different house and if you want to get in the pool go ahead. Others go to the beach , golf , shop or just enjoy a lazy day with a good book or puzzle. The house is paid for a month before we leave…it split between the number of families. We take a few things ahead of time but we all go to the store when we get there and split the grocery bill. During the week we leave a “kitty” in the kitchen and if you have to run to the store it’s money to cover whatever so it’s not all put on a few people. Each family take a night to cook dinner and we usually go out to eat a few times too. Breakfast and lunch you are on your own but we always come together for dinner. I have so many memories of going down there those first few years and now I get to share them with my 2 yr old. It’s so fun pranking each other or just sitting on the deck in the morning with my grandparents, drinking coffee and watching a pod of dolphins swim by.

  • Carrie February 5, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    We’ve a cabin at Broken Bow, OK with Our framily. The kids loved the loft upstairs to all have a sleep over.

  • Beth schuneman February 5, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    Have you ever been to MN? I vote to come here!

  • Brandi February 5, 2018 at 9:44 pm

    The best framily trip ever was rafting through the Grand Canyon for three days using Western River Expeditions. We have done this twice and both times it was simply amazing. You helicopter down into the canyon and see it from a whole different perspective. I would wait until your younger ones are a bit older, but it is a must do!

  • Liz February 5, 2018 at 10:50 pm

    So we have done Disneyland with my inlaws (MIL/FIL/SIL/BIL) and family friends. We just found that open communication/no expectations for the other families worked out great and we all want to do it again! We also do an annual beach camping trip every year with my family, my parents, my in-laws, 2 of my besties and their hubbies and kiddos, and their parents, and one set of in-laws. It’s a crazy big group, but it’s super fun and I’m glad we have the opportunity to all be together.

  • Lisa Klein February 5, 2018 at 10:50 pm

    San Diego and Palm Springs are two of our favorites! I have heard Sun River, Oregon is also amazing, but we haven’t been able to coordinate that one yet.

  • Christy February 6, 2018 at 8:28 am

    Love the pictures from your Disney Cruise. We are considering one in the near future. Would you suggest the 7 day cruise or do you think the 4 day is enough?

  • Mandee February 7, 2018 at 10:05 am

    Gatlinburg, TN is always fun! There are amazing cabins to rent that are all different sizes. You can hang by the pool or hike, or be a true tourist and go to the Dixie Stampede, Dollywood, and Ober Gatlinburg 🙂 It’s beautiful there!

  • Jaren February 13, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    I’ve just spent several days planning our family road trip to Gatlinburg this summer! We are stopping in Memphis (Peabody Ducks, Memphis Children’s Museum, Mud Island Riverwalk) and Nashville (Downtown fun, Adventure Science Museum). Then we are heading to our cabin in Pigeon Forge for 5 nights. There is SO MUCH TO DO!!! I can’t wait! FYI: We booked our cabin through Outrageous Cabins.com
    Another summer road trip we took was to Santa Fe, then Durango (where we road a train in the mountains-seriously my favorite thing I’ve ever done on vacation), Moab, UT where we went to Arches National Park (holy cow-amazing). We finished it up driving I-70 into Vail and finally Breckenridge. I cried on that drive because it was so beautiful. My kids have not stopped talking about this trip. I think my favorite part is how my kids got to see the land change!

  • JH February 19, 2018 at 9:39 pm

    National Parks are always amazing for families-we’ve loved Yellowstone, Yosemite, Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde, Arches, etc. One of our all-time favorite vacations was to South Dakota with kids from 4-12. Dinosaur museums, paleontology digs for the kids at a mammoth site, hiking, lots of wildlife, cowboy dinners, Mount Rushmore, old-time train rides, and more. So much to do! Your kids are the perfect age!