Traveling Tradition Keeps Four College Friends Close As Their Families Grow

URBANDALE, Iowa –Travel can be hard with just a couple kids, but one group has advice for traveling with many more than that.

There's no shortage of memories around the Fageroos’ kitchen table in Urbandale as they look over their vacation albums. They’ve been on trip after trip with three other families. Jaime Fageroos said, "19th trip this summer, so a long time. Now this summer when we travel there will be 20 of us."

They call themselves Forever 23. Ann Danner said, "We called ourselves Forever 23 because at one point we thought we weren't going to get old."

The four women were friends at Central College. Jaime said, "As we graduated and had families, we found we weren't spending any time together."

They took all their husbands on a camping trip in 2000. They had so much fun, they continued the tradition. Victor Fageroos said, "We had a tradition initially, it was like, who was going to announce they're pregnant in the group."

The group has twelve kids now, ages six through eighteen. "We've gone through diapers and now teenagers and drivers and all kinds of things." everything has changed and in some ways, nothing," said Jaime.

Last year, Forever 23 started a blog called Going Dutch Travel. The group shares advice for traveling with friends and keeping them in the end. "This is such a great experience in our lives that it would be good to share what we've learned and the things we've picked up over 18 years of traveling together,” said Jaime.

The four families get together every New Year’s holiday to decide on a destination. Then, they pick the lodging and split the cost four ways. They now need an eight-bedroom home and typically rent online by reading reviews and finding the appropriate amenities.

Eric Danner said, "Some of the things that are very simple that aren't always listed we all take for granted. Some of those are just the internet, a pool, grocery stores and restaurants that are nearby."

This group typically cooks at home, splitting the cost on a spreadsheet with a special formula. "Zero to 3 doesn’t count at all in the grocery budget. I think three to 7 or 8, they are a fourth of a person, you become half of a person when you're 14."

They also say to be flexible and share what's important to you for a vacation. "My biggest advice will be do it. There will be small bumps in the road. There will be logistics to work through, but pick something small, pick something manageable and do it,” said Ann.

This year they're headed to Florida. Lauren Danner said, "I'm excited to go to the beach.” Sister Ellie Danner said, “I'm excited to go to the pool because I know how to swim."

Who knows where they'll go next. "We always throw out places like Hawaii. I would love to go to Hawaii as a group, but it's more important for us to be together than where we go,” said Jaime.

The parents said another benefit of group travel is the moms get one day to do what they want without kids. The dads get a day to do their thing.

You can read more about their travels and advice on the Going Dutch Travel website.