We recently returned from a glorious week in Martha’s Vineyard with two other families. Our rented house was brimming with people, including 6 adults and 8 kids (ages 6-13.) We had never traveled with these families before but we got lucky because everyone got along swimmingly, making the week relaxing and fun.
There are many advantages to going away with other families. It was much cheaper to split our house, food, and activities three ways. The kids had constant and varied playmates to entertain them, and it made the tone of the trip seem more like an endless party (or week-long sleepover as the kids called it.)
Obviously everyone is unique and has different vacation expectations so this Brady- Bunch-goes-to-Hawaii set up is not for those who demand privacy, quiet and autonomy. Sometimes it’s a bonus to have someone else make decisions about meals and daily plans. I loved not having the pressure to plan dinner every night. That also meant that we didn’t always do or eat what would have been my first choice. But for us, the positives well outweighed the drawbacks.
Our old house was a typical island summer home—nice enough to feel clean and upgraded, but also featured sandy floors, funky closet smells, and the weakest water pressure I’ve ever experienced. But we didn’t care about any of that because it was 50 yards from a private beach overlooking Lambert’s Cove. There was a bluff hanging over the shore with Adirondack chairs and a hammock that were so inviting I started to consider whether I could make it through a cold, lonely Vineyard winter just to stay forever.
(The day we left, 6-year-old Eli told me he wanted to spend first grade at the house in MV and come back to Jersey for second grade. It was difficult to dash his dreams.)
Most nights we gathered on the bluff with drinks and sweatshirts to watch the sun sink into the sea and life was good.
There were a few moments in the middle of all the chaos, when I actually missed my family. The boys all crammed into one room in a separate part of the house so I never even tucked them in at night. I felt like I hadn’t spoken to 9-year-old Aden in days and 12-year-old Jacob was in “cool” mode in front of friends and the two 13-year-old girls with us so we didn’t get to bond as we have on other vacations.
Eli did his best to keep up with the big kids and often was the center of attention with his funny comments and dramatic outbursts. I hope he was as entertaining to our friends as he usually is to us.
Would I cram into a small house with 14 loud, opinionated people on a woodsy island again?
As sure as the sun sets over Vineyard Sound, I’d do it next year in a heartbeat.