There has been discussion going on in my family for several years about taking a holiday together. That is my parents, my two single brothers [Brother #2 & Brother #4], my sister [Jane #3], her husband, their 3 children + Jeff, the kids and I [oldest and of course #1, haha!]. In fact, we've been discussing it since the twins were babies and then we had all Chelsea's heart things going on. Then before I knew it I was expecting Buddy. We've been kinda waiting for him to get to an age where he could participate & remember such an important holiday. So its been a long, long time in discussion.
My mum always dreamed of it happening. She's always wanted to help us all have a holiday together so we could create a precious & unique family memory. But with a large group with diverse ages & interests, just how to make that happen & where to go, what to do, has been almost impossible to organise until earlier this year. Early on [at least a year ago, maybe 2], it was decided that we would try to go over the summer school holidays when the majority of us were off school &/or could probably take time off work.
Next we had to decide on a destination. For a long time we looked at going to Hong Kong. There was Disneyland for the kids, interesting & diverse culture & lots of things to do for everyone else. We could add on a few days to tour up into Beijing & see more traditional/less westernised parts of China too. But every time we had discussions within our family, the planning never progressed too far. My parents are widely travelled & so is brother #2 who has lived in UK for work, been back & forth to China for work & holidayed extensively in Europe. My sister & I & brother #4 have seen a little of the world, our children have seen none. SO to find something that suited everyone, and that everyone was prepared to drop big money onto, was going to be tricky.
Eventually we stopped trying to make Hong Kong work & we started discussions about skiing. We skiied quite alot at Mt Hotham & Falls Creek quite alot through our childhood. Brother #2 of course has snowboarded extensively with his travels. Brother #4 also snowboards & the rest of us have all skiied some since then, except for the children.
So we talked about Japan, we are all still quite keen on that. But then we started thinking about America. We all love New York & we could ski at Aspen maybe? And of course while we hadn't started any real costing out & we were splashing non-existent money around, we could also do either Disneyland or Disneyworld while we were there! Yes all sounded terrific. Lets do that one! Thing is, when you cost out getting to the USA, add on pretty severe costs for Aspen skiing, spend a few days in Disneyland, whack on a 'why not do Las Vegas & Grand Canyon since we are there' & then just a pop up for a few days to New York..... that adds to ALOT of money for 16 people. 7 of those people mine!!
We tried to make it work by cutting nights & asking for travel agent help in sorting it out but it was massive & we ended up paying a fortune to be staying in little tiny bits & mostly travelling in between.
Back to the drawing board.
Before too long, brother #2 suggested skiing in Europe & pairing it with Disneyand in Paris. Much closer proximity with many other things to do & see at our doorstep. After a few more discussions & some investigating, suddenly everyone is happy & can see that they can easily add on little side trips to all the places that they want to visit once the family togetherness component has been done.
A huge year of planning, I don't think too many tears, lots of smiles, a million phonecalls & emails, some bookings made, some still to go, suitcases not yet out, ski gear mostly purchased....... it is with great excitement that I can share that....
Jeff & I are taking the kids to see snow for the very first time!
Plane tickets are booked!
Now the scary part, making the rest happen on a super tight budget!
So without giving away specific detail, the general plan is that we'll be having almost 4 weeks away over the next few months. We'll be starting in London for 5 days doing as many touristy things as possible. Then we catch the Eurostar & snow train straight into the French Alps where we'll stay with my entire family in a chalet in the 3 Valleys for a whole week of skiing/boarding. The kids are booked into ski school, even Buddy [!!!!!] & I cannot wait to have snowball fights with them, have a ski around myself & have great family evenings together in the chalet.
We then catch the train back into Paris for a few days - Flea Markets & chocolate crepes at te Eiffel Tower here I come - before heading down to Disneyland for 3 days. Next, we are training it to Brussels for a couple of days & nights, spending 1 day/night in Antwerp and then 3 nights in Amsterdam before flying all the way home.
I know its not going to be easy with 5 children, but this really is the trip of a lifetime for us. With my parents hugely generous help, along with $8000 we've managed to save over the last 8 years + this years tax return + a little bit of bank help, we are going to pack this holiday full right to the very top & enjoy every second of this big crazy adventure. Its going to be tight, we are going to have to watch every penny [or should I say Euro] spent & be really careful about what we pack as we'll have to lug all that around in addition to picture taking & wrangling 5 tired tiny people. Its going to be a circus thats for sure.
Its a trip we never in a lifetime could have taken without my parents help and for that we are so extremely grateful. I can't wait to share over the next few months, how we make it all happen & I also can't wait until its all over & we are back home safe looking through all our holiday snaps! Silly I know!