How to Plan a Family Reunion

AAA Travel Agent Marina Axline offers tips for planning a memorable reunion trip.

Family eating and chatting around a large outdoor table, image
Make sure the trip offers something for laid-back grandparents and active kids alike. / Shutterstock

If you’re thinking of gathering the whole clan in an unforgettable location, you’re not alone. Each year, as tens of millions of Americans attend family reunions, group trips are becoming an increasingly popular way to congregate. As AAA Travel Agent Marina Axline says, traveling together can deepen family ties, provided that the trip is well planned. Here are Axline’s tips for setting up a perfect family get-together.

Get an early start.

Poll all the relatives far in advance about their interests, availability, and preferences. “Many families start the process months before,” Axline says. “But for big groups or more complex trips, a year or more might be better.” Set the date—a crucial step before other decisions can be made—and stick to it.

Agree on a budget.

If you (or some generous relatives) are footing the bill for the whole clan, decide how much you want to spend. If the cost will be split, talk it over with everyone attending to determine whether you’ll opt for a reunion that’s lavish, bare-bones, or in between.

Pick your adventure.

Reunion trip options include themed journeys—as elaborate as a return to the old country or as simple as a summer picnic in a nostalgic spot—as well as cruises, trips to destination resorts, and stays in modest cabins. Zero in on what’s best for your clan, making sure it offers something for laid-back grandparents and active kids alike.

Nail things down early.

Whether you’re working on your own or with an agent, reserve tickets and lodging as soon as you can. The earlier you do, the more likely it is that you’ll get a better price and selection. Consider trip-cancellation insurance if purchasing nonrefundable tickets or hotel rooms.

Delegate, then communicate.

Enlist other family members to help with planning meals, designing T-shirts, researching side trips, and wrangling all the other details. Keep everyone engaged by setting up a website, Facebook page, or group email list. Though a reunion takes a lot of work, the payoff is huge. “You’re creating shared memories that often last a lifetime,” says Axline.


This article was first published in September 2013 and updated in April 2019.