Spending your precious time off with others can be fraught with trouble, warns Sophie Morris


My very best memories of childhood summers are those when my family teamed up with others. We had a caravan on Anglesey with an ever-revolving open door. When we started heading to Europe, it was often in the company of friends from home.

I wonder if my parents felt the same at the time? They gave us plenty of variety, but was it as fun for them as it was for us, what with all the legwork of finding holiday locations, accommodating even more children than their own three, and planning huge meals?

There’s no formula for getting a dream summer holiday, such as renting a sun-blushed villa with multiple families, to work. But if you want to come home on speaking terms, make a few good choices early on and then sit back to let the change of scenery and charming company do the work.


Hopefully you’re sensible enough to holiday with people with similar resources or spending habits to you. Pooling cash so that you don’t need to do the maths over who paid for the petrol and who did the food shop will get around plenty of awkward holiday conversations.

Physical kitties have been replaced by a number of handy apps that do the work for you. I am told that Splitwise, Splid, Splittr and Settle Up are good, but I haven’t used them myself.


I’m always surprised by how many people don’t like the beach but there are plenty of you out there. Yet I’ve also been on a beach holiday without realising beforehand that the others didn’t like the beach. Don’t make this mistake.

One person’s “villa holiday” could mean “villa plus daily excursions to ancient ruins”; another’s might mean “villa plus hike in the hills”. So many of Europe’s most beautiful islands offer beaches, hikes and ancient ruins, but check in on expectations before you discover you’ve packed five bikinis and everyone else is off cycling at dawn.


A group chat for holiday prep and chat is useful if not essential, but don’t expect everyone to contribute equally, if at all. Some people love the planning stages and discussing every detail; others don’t and never will. It’s not personal.


Maybe you’ve always gone away with the same gang but this year a new partner comes along. They’re not interested in hearing about what you got up to the previous year or 10 with the ex.


You might have always done everything in exactly the same way on holidays, whether that’s when you eat or who “mans” (FFS) the barbecue. But if a carbon copy of last year’s trip is what you desire, you should book that and go there.


Not all of them! Busy bees who can’t relax - or who relax by being 100 per cent “on” all the time - can be really helpful on a villa holiday, by coming up with games for the children and mixing cocktails, for example. Leaving the rest of us more time to just do nothing.


On group holidays, people seem to fall into two camps: those who do mind, and those who don’t.

The do-minders can be easily characterised as wanting to have things their own way, or being controlling, but they get things done. The don’t-minders are equally fallible and while they’re busy not minding when children eat or whether transport to the beach is booked, someone else will be doing this work for them.

Whichever you are, don’t bemoan your opposite number - a healthy mix is much better than either/or in this case.


If you want to do everything en masse, go for it. I very much doubt everyone will share your enthusiasm. Of course, this depends on the group size, but when it stretches to more than six adults or two families, the likelihood is you’ll need to go off and do your own thing on occasion to get the holiday you need.

This might mean disappointing someone else by turning down their offer of a group massage, but preserve your sanity in the long run.


Whatever your strengths as an adult human, play to them for all to enjoy. You don’t need to split all tasks equally, but if you feel very grateful for all the cooking and driving done for you, be the first to tidy and wash up.

Everyone is far more indebted to the holiday dishwasher hero than the hero who persuaded them he understood the tides before they all got into grave danger on a boat, as George Orwell did off Jura trying to show off to his holiday guests.


I don’t live with any (yet) but have encountered many and a couple of 14-year-olds’ emo moods is plenty to kill anyone’s holiday spirit. It’s their holiday too, so don’t force them to attend everything given they may well spoil it for others.


Different ages call for a variety of environments, from safety to mealtimes to noise. It’s great but not always possible to holiday with similarly-aged children. If you can’t, don’t impose the needs of your child on everyone else.

I hope it goes without saying that this is for children who have no special educational needs. For those who do, try to inform the other adults in advance and let them know how they can help - and what won’t help.


Hopefully you’ve worked out who you holiday well with before opening your wallet, but there are always a few surprises. A typical difference in how people parent manifests in time on devices. Leave others to it and if you have to bitch, do it quietly.

Don’t argue with your partner And if you have to, do it quietly.


Overall, I think one of the most important things to take on a group holiday is attitude - the laissez-faire groove we’re promised taking a holiday will engender in us. Basically, don’t sweat the small stuff, because it’s only short-term.

Other people’s habits might annoy you. They might even make you not want to holiday with them again. But don’t forget that these annoyances, whether they’re sandy towels left all over the place or a failure to replenish the ice tray, are only for the duration.

You’ve chosen to spend a week or two with these friends, not a lifetime. If anything, the grotesque morning habits of others can serve as a welcome wake-up call as to why you like your own domestic set-up so much and will be content to return to it.