Two families together at water park © iStock

Let’s face it: As a family grows, so do travel expenses. Consider vacationing with a 2nd family. It creates built-in playmates for children and can be a way to save money on family travel.

With the right family as a partner, splitting expenses such as lodging, meals and vacation experiences can save money for both families. A larger travel group may even yield group discounts at attractions and theme parks.

By speaking frankly upfront about budgets and expectations, the families can make the trip less awkward and the vacation cheaper and more fun.

Pick a partner family wisely

Selecting the family to travel with is the key to making this arrangement a success. “It’s important to find a family with spending habits and travel budgets that are similar to yours,” says Eileen Gunn, founder of FamiliesGo, a website devoted to family travel.

Have the money talk

Be honest about your budget and discuss your expectations with your intended companion family. “Make your budget expectations clear early in the planning process so there are no surprises,” says Allison Laypath, a travel blogger who writes Tips for Family Trips.

“Respect differences of opinion and understand that you may need to compromise. Talk to your spouse before you talk to the other family to make sure you are thinking alike,” Laypath says.

Try a home instead of hotel rooms

A spacious vacation home can comfortably accommodate 2 families. If 1 family has a larger budget or larger family, they can choose larger bedrooms and pay accordingly.

“Instead of each family having to pay for their own hotel room, they can share the cost of the house, which cuts their lodging expenses in half,” Gunn says.

What’s the meal deal?

If sharing a vacation home, assign each family a certain number of meals that they plan and buy food for for the whole group. Or, decide that the families will eat separately rather than shopping and cooking for both, Laypath says.

“This allows each family a chance to control their own budget at the grocery store. Make sure you know the other family’s dietary needs and preferences before you plan your menu,” Laypath says.

Don’t be attached at the hip

Although the plan is to share expenses, spending every moment together isn’t necessary. If 1 family has more discretionary dollars, it’s acceptable to plan separate activities and dinners out during the trip.

Have this discussion upfront and carve out nights where each family ventures its own way.