In most parts of the country, it’s still pretty chilly and dreary - despite the fact that Spring has apparently sprung.
Nonetheless, it’s never too early to start thinking about getting away - as I sit here, I’m dreaming about parking myself on a beachfront and not moving for hours on end. But despite that oh-so-inviting fantasy, I’ve decided to come up with a few tips that will help you get the most out of your family vacation.
Now, I know what you’re thinking:
“Tips? I don’t need any tips, just get me out of my hometown and I’m happy. Besides, what do you know anyway?”
Ah my friend, little do you realize that with just the smallest bit of improper planning, your beloved family vacation can quickly turn into a Clark Griswold-esque nightmare. So whether you’re heading to the great white north of Canada, going the way of the snowbird down to Destin, FL, or really anywhere in between, these pointers will help you stay the course and keep your sanity along the way.
Tip #1 - Plan EVERYTHING
Take it from someone that has always tried to improvise when they get somewhere - it doesn’t apply to family trips. Trust me.
It doesn’t hurt to be overly neurotic about planning out your activities and stops along the way. A solid plan might seem like the antithesis of vacation, but really it just serves to make sure you and your family make the most of the limited time you’ve got away. A great strategy for planning is to make up some lists ahead of time of everything you’ll want to check out.
Oh, and a word of advice on your list making - break things up. One section for eating out, one section for attractions, another for day trips, however you want to work it based on your specific trip is fine. This makes everything a lot more manageable when you finally get to your destination.
Tip #2 - Do Your Research
In talking to a bunch of my friends and their families, it was stunning how many of them actually didn’t do a whole lot of research on their vacation destinations. To those people I say - are you nuts?
Especially when it comes to a family trip, research is going to be an essential part of your planning process, and is absolutely going to help you get the most out of your experience. The last thing you want to do is get somewhere far away, only to realize the only thing they’ve got to offer are a bunch of beaches and bars.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but for the family of four in which two of the members are kids, it’s probably not the best spot. Which, of course, leads me to tip number three…
Tip #3 - Plan With the Family
Make your planning fun! It’s easy to turn an otherwise boring process into a fun family night - grab some takeout, gather your crew, and get everyone involved in scripting out the perfect getaway.
One of the best things you can do here is getting your kids involved in the planning. Let them come up with a short list of destinations they’d love to visit - even if you don’t end up going there, your children will feel empowered that they got to contribute. For younger children, ask them if there’s any particular sites or attractions they’d be interested in. And if you’ve got older kids, ask them where they would prefer to eat on your first night there.
Tip #4 - Digital Detox
Alright, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how big of a piece picture taking is on a family vacation. And of course, with every good picture comes the need to post it for all the world to see - there’s nothing wrong with that, and I’m guilty of it myself.
However, with the exception of the camera, try and encourage your family to participate in a sort of digital detox for the duration of your trip. Not only will this encourage you to interact more with each other, but it will force everyone to be a little bit more present in the moment of your trip. In essence, they’ll appreciate it a bit more than they would if they had their heads buried in their phones.
With younger kids, a complete digital detox might not be possible - in that case, try to aim for at least leaving the devices in your hotel for the day.
With this, you’re now armed with the knowledge to make sure you get the most out of your family vacation this summer - now find your destination and get planning!