View Full Version : Inspired by family trip threads: What are your ground rules?

02-12-2002, 04:39 PM
Hi Guys!

There have been several threads of late that I would either describe as funny or scary, mostly telling tales of nightmare DVC trips taken with inconsiderate family members or friends. Many of you have spoken about one means of attempting to assure the trip will go well: sharing a set of 'ground rules' with the family or friends that will go on the trip with you, well before you leave for WDW.

My question is this: when you take family or friends with you on a DVC vacation, what are your ground rules? What do you make sure that your potential guests understand in advance, and what arrangements do you make with them regarding things like expenses, food, etcetera?

Any input would be welcome!!! You may save me from a WORLD full of trouble over the next year or so! :D



02-12-2002, 04:44 PM
I read those threads with interest too. However, I've been wondering how one presents these "ground rules" to one's family members. I mean some of mine would get ticked off if I just mentioned them. Maybe with humor. I don't know. No plans to invite family anytime soon.

02-12-2002, 04:47 PM
Besides the initial question, perhaps a little side comment on how you present these ground rules would also be very helpful. :p

Rock'n Robin
02-12-2002, 05:23 PM
Boy this is timely. We have invited my parents for the first five days of our July stay while we have a 2 BR at BWV. They will be 70 and 72. Mom is waffling, though, so I don't know if they will go. Dad has already mentioned he is uncomfortable not paying for the room, so I told him he could buy a couple of meals. I have already mentioned that we don't have to do the same thing every minute, since they will need more rest and dad has a bad back as well. It's going to be a challenge--which is why we are there for 4 nights after that, at Poly and VWL, to recover!:D
Robin M.

02-12-2002, 06:47 PM
I haven't taken anybody, so these threads are very interesting in avoiding pitfalls. Dean has posted a set of rules on this board that I won't plagarize, but I think make sense.

The most basic rule.....WE ARE NOT A SIAMESE GROUP! We are not all joined at the hips. There is no way that any group can agree on every decision on what to do. It's okay to go separate ways and join up when convenient!

Also, the key seems to be getting the DVC owner couple (husband and wife) to absolutely agree on the rules. Most of the problems I've seen on the great "inconsiderate family and friends" threads stem from one of the spouses not willing to face up to their own family. I see a bunch of "IL" references, meaning that one partner is exasperated with an in-law and obviously the other partner is not willing to set them straight.

I tend to be on the blunt side so outlining the rules is no problem. When the invitation is extended, the rules should come up right then. In other words, "We'd love to have you join us at WDW in our home, and we do have some rules that we find helpful in making sure everyone has a great time. " Explain the rules. "Are you okay with our vacation philosophy?"

I know...rude people will say "Yes, we accept (thought you'd never ask) and we'll be glad to follow your rules". Then they'll ignore them while you're there...."Oh you don't really mean that you'll leave without us if we don't get up until 10:00?".

Right now, DW and I have only one rule: "Don't tell anybody we own DVC".


02-12-2002, 07:09 PM
I've done a few trips where I've "sponsored" family and / or friends on trips to WDW and other places. I've worked from a slightly different slant.

My philosophy so far (and it has worked) is that if I believe that I need to establish ground rules with a particular individual or group to have them join me on a trip, they just never get invited in the first place. Why even start the process with that sword hanging over your head?

Only those that I feel have enough common sense to understand what the ground rules would be if they were enumerated, get an invitation. Maybe I've just been lucky so far in being able to discern the difference or maybe I've just been lucky enough to have never been put in the situation where I had to invite, against my better judgement, those that I knew needed ground rules!

02-12-2002, 07:11 PM
Someone else in one of the other threads mentioned our biggest Ground Rule...


We've never actually had a bad trip - and we've brought so many people with us. Our secret?!? SHORT TRIPS!!! Too many days is just setting yourself up for disaster. I guess that's a luxury we have with living so close - but that's the only way we would ever agree to it!!!

02-12-2002, 08:58 PM
We took my sister and her family with us to HH last summer. When we invited them, we made it clear that we got the master bedroom, that we expected them to find their own transporation to the resort, that we expected them to split the groceries, they would pay for any activities for their family and they did not have to do everything we did just because we invited them. It worked out very well and after we checked out we told them that other than their gas, the trip was on us. Our expense we less than we had planned for and we were happy to be able to "treat" them. Plus, they ended up buying DVC and we got Disney Dollars in return. This summer we are taking DH's parents to OKW with us and even though we gave them the same ground rules, I hope we are able to "treat" them as well. I don't think I would invite anyone, family or friend, who I thought would try to take advantage of the situation. However, should an incident arise, they would NEVER be invited again!

02-12-2002, 09:13 PM
Hey, I'm with Granny on this one.

My husband and I decided not to tell his family because they would expect to tag along. We aren't close, live across the country from them, and based on previous experience, we know that they would expect it--And, the family "patriarch" would put pressure on my husband to not only invite them but assist with their expenses.

And it is not because we (especially me) are afraid to say anything--it is because we would (tact is not part of my job description):D No good could ever come of it.


Princess Tess
02-12-2002, 09:56 PM

If you have to use the word "rule" there may already be a problem.

You probably already know the answer to the question "how do you think a vacation would be with so and so?"

If you are absolutely obligated to bringing someone, book a non connected separate room.

DON'T BRAG ABOUT DVC!!! If people don't know about DVC then they won't know that you can bring them....

Having said all that, I may be going with 25 family members in 2003....as my father always said "don't do as I do but do what I say"

02-12-2002, 10:22 PM
I have one of those 'this is the way it WILL be' personalities, so I wouldn't have any problems in this area. Its my way, or you can always get your own reservation and we'll meet up here and there. If you aren't waking up until 10am, then you'll just have to find us in the park! :D

On the plus side, my wife's family is actually very easy to get along with so we've already talked about future invitations.

Two years ago we did take my SIL and her daughter, and had a wonderful time. (for the most part ;) ) They had never been to Disney and looked to us for the best game plan. It can be a bit nervewracking if you let yourself get caught up in showing them EVERYTHING, but we finally slowed down a bit and just enjoyed.

And the 'we are not connected at the hips' comment is very true. We used radios to find each other in the parks when we separated, and it worked pretty well. You just can't all want to do all the same things, and a way to reconnect saves lots of waiting and searching.

Remember, its a vacation. If it is a chore to invite someone, then its probably a real good idea to rethink the invitation. And assertiveness training should be included in the DVC purchase! :)


02-13-2002, 12:02 AM
Originally posted by TIdoublegaER
...that we expected them to find their own transporation to the resort...

That is pretty funny, she actually TOLD us we had to drive because they were flying and we had to bring all the beach stuff!!!! Hee Hee! :D Small price to pay for a "free" trip! I think knowing the expectations up front really help keep lines of communication open and that makes for a great trip!

We are planning to join our family's once again with our parents in June 2003, that should be very interesting!

Firefighter Mickey
02-13-2002, 07:50 AM
We're not doing any more re-union type trips to DVC any longer (at least we have no more planned, and I'm going to be pretty hard to convince). Way too much stress. Possibly we broke the rule of going for too long, but when some of the family come from Alaska, you want to have a decent amount of time for such a long flight. Plus, I don't think our kids have as much fun.

Getting our last trip organized was a total disaster. It was for my wife's side of the family, since the previous trip had been for my side of the family. Everyone said "Yes, we will be there" and then one by one they all backed out, except for my MIL - and the only reason she didn't back out was because we were buying her plane ticket (credit card reward points) - and then, a week before the trip, after she had the non-refundable, non-transferable plane ticket in hand, she backed out as well (to scared to get on the plane after 9/11). We managed to salvage the trip by inviting my parents and sister in the last minute (dad paid for sis's and her kids airline tik's which was really great of him), but for awhile it looked like there would be 4 of us staying an an OKW GV.

Anyway, after that fiasco I said "never again!"

The only "rule" we ever had for people is that we don't have to do everything together. My dad offered to take care of any group dining expenses (we would sometimes plan a few meals together at different places) and it was generally understood that everyone needed to contribute on the common groceries.

02-13-2002, 09:28 AM
None of the people that we have invited or planned to invite are inconsiderate or impolite people, but none of them have travelled all *that* much, and none of them have been to Disney World before. So the reason that I'm asking for your 'ground rules' *isn't* that we've invited some rude people (or people who need 'rules' in everyday life), but simply because I was wondering what the best ways are to ensure that everyone understands the situation in such a way that major problems won't arise. Thanks, everyone, for all of your responses so far! Keep them coming! :D

Peter Johnson
02-13-2002, 10:28 AM
We've taken family twice.... once DW's 14-year-old neice, and once DW's sister and husband. Both times worked out great :)

DN had been to WDW with her parents a couple of times before, so she was very self-sufficient. She used the daybed in our 1BR. We did most things together of course, but we let her cut loose a few times. We also made sure she had a room key and knew how to get from anywhere back to the room.

Her parents were great guests too. They had the studio lockoff of our 2BR. We did some things together, some separately. They paid their bills, and took us to a dinner or two. DW and her sister tended to do their own thing, and DBIL and I did ours.

All we asked was that they pay their portion of the food bills. Before we could even bring up the together/separate issue, they told us they wouldn't hang onto us unless we wanted them to.

All in all both vacations were very successful, and we wouldn't have any hesitation inviting any of them again :)

Jen D
02-13-2002, 10:47 AM
When you all talk about "payng their bills" do you mean you cover ther park passes, plane tickets, etc?

Kick it up a notch!
02-13-2002, 10:59 AM
I agree with all of the posters that said think about who you are bringing along and be on the same page as your spouse.

We have invited friends and family many times and always had a great time. My wife seems to get annoyed when they want to do stuff together. It really doesn't bother me. I don't think that our friends are joined with us at the hip, the whole reason I wanted to invite friends down with us is because I wanted to spend time with them and share the experience with them. I didn't have to set ground rules, although I have explained to them that it is our vacation and we might like to do things they may not want to do and that they should feel free to do anything they want and we can meet up later. We have been a few times and there is some stuff that we don't care to do, and some stuff we do. We have radios and meet up with people later with no difficulty finding them.

Also, I really tend not to associate with people who will annoy me or potentially annoy me, and really have no problem telling someone that what they are doing is not cool. I tend to discuss things before they happen, like "hey, we're going to the supermarket now, do you want to split the groceries or do you want to get stuff later." It's all in the presentation. You don't have to be a jerk to get your point across to people with reasonable intelligence, and if you think they are that dense that they can't understand the concept of co-operation and sharing, don't ask them to go. You will be miserable and that defeats the entire purpose of going on vacation in the first place.

For those of you who don't want to hurt the feelings of your spouse by telling them that you don't think it is a good idea to take members of their family, think about the hurt feelings that you will incur by fighting with your spouse on vacation because your BIL or SIL did something that created a situation that ruined your vacation.

Communication is the key to success with anything and if you can communicate with everyone, you will have a great time.

Good luck to all!

02-13-2002, 11:22 AM
Master bedroom is ours (we paid for it).
Room is paid for, everything else is not!
We invited you and not anyone else.
:smooth: :wave:

02-13-2002, 11:46 AM
I think your rules would vary with who your guests were. We have booked trips for our kids and grandkids thru our points and they stayed in their own villas or went seperately from the time we went.
The only together(in the same villa) we made was last March in a 2 BR at OKW with 2 DD's and our DGD who was graduating from college. As a grad present we picked up her air fare, park hopper and all meals.
As for our 2 DD's they paid their air fare and meals and we bought them park hoppers also. We did pick up the tab one night at the CG for all 5 of us.
And of course we furnished the 2 BR at OKW.

Peter Johnson
02-13-2002, 12:51 PM
Originally posted by Jen Dawson
When you all talk about "payng their bills" do you mean you cover ther park passes, plane tickets, etc?

The deal was that we would provide the room and passes (it was back in the "good old days"), and nothing else.

You want to eat? Better bring money! ;)

02-13-2002, 02:11 PM
We try to have some time just for our family - either a few days before or after the family or guests are there. This works out pretty well. We don't mind spending all or most of our time with our guests because we enjoy their company and want to share the experience with them. We always make it clear that they do not have to follow our "plan" - because I usually have a rough one on paper. I also find out what attractions my guest want to do most and those they would like to skip - then we can make the plan fit the needs of more people. (For example - my parents don't like the fast rides, etc - but love certain shows and attractions.)

My parents will make their 3rd trip with us in Oct. They're very easy-going and are just happy to be there with us.

02-13-2002, 05:22 PM
Most of our trips, including our recent Disney trips, have been with friends.

The thing to ask yourself from the beginning is how important is it to you that you spend time together? In other words, would you be willing to compromise on some itinerary things because you want to spend time with those who came along? There is no right or wrong answer, only what you are looking for from your vacation.

I tend to state things as options for everyone, as opposed to rules. For instance, at some point before the trip, I/we will say something like "We're really looking forward to this trip. Of course, if you guys want to go your own way at some point, that's fine, since we may not all want to do the same thing..."

If you really want to stay together most of the time, you will most likely need to make some compromises on what/when you do things. But hopefully, you are going with people who feel the same way and everyone gives and takes. (Yes, this is possible. Our groups of 5-10 people rarely split up, and everyone has a good time.)

If you have certain things you definitely want to do, regardless of what the others want to do, just let them know what those things are and ask if they think they will be joining you or doing something else.

Things like sleeping arrangements, finances, etc should be worked out long before going, and the major things should be brought up when the trip is first planned. Again, though I mention them in casual conversation, as opposed to setting rules. "We wanted to know if you guys wanted to go to WDW with us in July? We have a one bedroom room through our DVC purchase, so maybe you guys could just pick-up lunches and/or dinners?" Or whatever arrangements you work out.

The plus to travelling with generally the same group multiple times is that we've gotten all of that stuff out of the way. We take the 'stay together and compromise' route, because we enjoy each others company. And we know how we are going to split up any common expenses, and most of all, we stay flexible. Within reason, of course. ;)

Are the people travelling with you going to be sharing your DVC room, or is everyone getting their own rooms?

02-13-2002, 05:59 PM
We rarely go to WDW without guests any more. I usually present it as a specific trip on specific dates and ask if they want to go along. I outline exactly what their financial committment will be. We always tell them there will be no cost for accommodations, but that it would be nice if they treated us to a meal either out or of their preparation, one night of the trip. We also tell them EXACTLY how much admission is so they are not surprised about that. We also offer to buy them discounted admission with our DC membership. No one has ever abused our hospitality. Some have felt they needed to compensate us more than others, but all have been gracious guests. Some of the most gracious were family members.

02-13-2002, 11:11 PM
I send info out about tix costs and a few menus so there's no surprises on food costs either. We set the dates and then ask can you make it?

02-14-2002, 04:22 AM
Great Thread. We are inviting grandparents for the first time and concerned about their obsession with how much everything costs dampening our vacation.

02-14-2002, 07:03 AM
Captain Midnight...The guest we have invited for next year is always concerned about money. I not only gave him a dollar breakdown of what admission and food costs were, but also told him what an average air fare would be and even included his dog sitting expenses in the estimate.

02-14-2002, 12:49 PM
Once I read a list of tourist-y things that you could do in a day and what they cost you. I wish I had kept it. Stuff like: you are driving and pull over to visit a ranch of rare red deer. Admission $8 per adult. Takes 35 minutes to enjoy. then on to a famous waterfall. Parking $3/car, gate fee $4 per adult. Drive to see sea lions in a cave. Admission $16/adult. And at the end of the day you have spent around $70 per adult and had 35 minutes here, 45 minutes there, to show for it. It really put the cost of Disney in perspective. I wonder if anyone has had a day like this and could plug in real costs/places. . .

02-14-2002, 03:46 PM
In answer to your question, we have been planning on staying together with our guests, with us in the master of a 2 bedroom and then in the 2nd bedroom. That may change, but I'm pretty sure that we're going to stick with those arrangements.

02-14-2002, 08:14 PM
hi: i was one of the posters with at least 2 definite no way in he** will they go with us again guests. we've had guests with us on non-dvc wdw vacations as well. if it's only 1 or 2 extras and they haven't been to wdw before, i figure they'll just go along with whatever we plan. if they have been before, i throw my birnbaum's guide book at them and tell them to let us know what they definitely want to do in the parks, what restaurants, etc. that will just get incorporated into the plans. as far as ground rules go, these kids/adults have known me for a while. with the kids, it's "mom rules, teenagers drool!". quite honestly, the 2 i'll never take back were the only ones who ever tested my patience badly. when a group of 15 of my family went in may, 2000, the birnbaum's were given out the christmas prior. i asked for lists of who wanted to do what and where and how much "togetherness" everyone wanted. i kind of based my family's plans on what they wanted to do and incorporated it with one of my brother's family's plans. we did some meals and things together, but went our own ways for much of the trip. you need to talk with the other parties involved prior to the trip to see if there will be any potential differences that need to be worked out ahead of time.

02-14-2002, 08:53 PM
jon- OK. We used to share accomodations sometimes, and as long as everyone knows up front what the bed and bathroom situation is, and of course the associated cost, it should be fine. This is pretty easy to present by just saying that you wanted to give everyone a heads-up on what the accomodations are, and outlining where everyone will be sleeping, and where the bathrooms are.

Being straightforward and firm, but without the authoritative tone always worked for us.

PS- I'm assuming you are the DVC owner and have invited the others along. If the others will be paying you for the accomodations, you'd want to take into account who is staying where. Example- If you were staying with just one other couple, you would want to ask them for slightly less than half of the cost, since they have the smaller bedroom. If a friend is sleeping in the bathtub, he should probably pay less than everybody else...;) .

02-14-2002, 09:09 PM
So far the only people I will never invite again is a family contingent from Florida who stood me up & then called later to ask what day we were coming over to Tampa...no explanation as to the absence. Given I was paying for passes & accomodations that was a tad annoying.

Otherwise...one thing to remember is that once you are in a group you can't have it ALL your own way. I may or may not ask the guest for money for the accomodations, usually will ask them to kick in for food somewhere along the way (split the groceries or buy some meals...depends on what I feel like). The only problem I've ever had that I have also simply come to accept is the slow starters. Some people just plain start slow...I've been to Disney often enough to accept & explain to the offenders that they are just decreasing their park time with the slow start.

I also just came back from a trip where I was the 'guest'...sort of...I tagged along on someelses trip. I asked them to explain their itinerary and treated it as ground rules, did not invite myself along to any meals I didn't have an invitation to & made a point of keeping my opinion to myself...I had a wonderful trip & an invitation to join them next time.

02-15-2002, 12:08 PM
I have several family members joining me for my April 19-28th vacation. We have three two bedrooms and one studio all of which are on my points. i have invited different groups of family every time i go and have always had a great time. The key to our success is only one rule...this is our vacation and we will do what we want and you will do what you want and if its together fine if not see you at dinner. I usually plan buffet type meals for four nights and then let people split up and enjoy whatever restaurants they wish. BY buffet I mean ...chef mickeys, cape may,
ohanas or bomas. my son and his friends spend the mornings in bed the afternoons in the pool or at the parks ..have dinner with family then head to pleasureisland until closing.

I play tour guide for newbies because i'm a disney nut and just be surrounded by the magic and family is my treat.Hubby does unconventional stuff like Richard petty driving experience.
Some family head over to universal which is sacreligious to me but we will sometimes give them alift over and they take mears back. I rent 15 passngervans which we use to go resort hopping but let everyone use disney transportation on their own.

We always stay at the BWV because the location is fabulous for e

I would never bring someone i couldn't stand evenif they are family and always provide separatevillas for safety in case of too much togetherness. Joan