Family vacations are a great way to get away from the rush of modern life and reconnect with each other. The memories that come from fun-filled family vacations will last a lifetime, but sometimes their boredom and frustration can rear its ugly head. No one can be happy all the time, but with a little bit of planning, a lot of patience and these five tips, you can survive your family vacation with a wealth of happy memories.
#1. Plan Your Expenses
Money is one of the most stressful aspects of any family vacation. You should set a budget with your spouse and any other adults that will accompany on your trip well in advance. Find out who is contributing and in what amounts. You should also set what spending limits will be. Then, start saving at least three months before you plan to depart. Aside from your spending budget, you will need to set money aside for unexpected expenses such as medical cost, impulse purchases, gifts, and even inflation. This can keep everyone in the green out of the poorhouse during your family vacation. If you have kids that will be traveling with you, consider having them save their allowance for a few months. That way they can make their own “fun” or optional purchases while on vacation. Not only will this help keep you on budget, but they will also feel more involved in the planning process.
#2. Plan Your Travel Time & Know Your Limits
One of the hardest parts of going on vacation with your family is getting to your destination. Plan your travel time well in advance of your trip to stay on schedule. Can you imagine getting packed and ready only to miss your flight? How about setting a time to hit the road only to get mired in rush hour traffic due to departing from the house too late? Instead of getting stressed out, plan properly. For every child in your vacation party, add an extra 20 minutes to your departure time. For every slow-moving adult or elderly person, add 15 minutes. Once you have the extra time calculated, set your departure ahead accordingly to stay on schedule and retain your sanity. It is also critical to know your limits and that of those traveling with you. Everyone has those little things that can cause a major meltdown, keep them in mind when planning your trip. Every so often you may have to just let the baby cry or allow your spouse to pick the radio station on to keep the peace. Choosing your battles not only will ensure your trip goes smoothly, but it will also keep everyone happy and your wits intact.
#3. Set Aside Time for Yourself
Taking a vacation with your family is a lot of fun for them, but it can also be a lot of work for you and your spouse. Creating me time allows your family to have independent fun while you get some time to yourselves. If your family has time away from you, they will begin to appreciate the time you are around them even more and you will also feel much more refreshed. Depending on the age of the people in your vacation party, downtime can mean any number of things. If you have other adults or older kids, consider letting them explore your vacation spot on their own. While everyone is away, you can kick up your feet, relax, and just let the strain of the trip melt away. You should never feel selfish or guilty for cherishing that time away from your family even on vacation. The role of a parent is one that changes often but seldom involves truly having no responsibility. Getting in your “me time” allows you to be the best parent that you can be for the rest of your vacation.
#4. Learn to Compromise
On a family vacation, you are going to be faced with various personalities outside of their usual environment. As a result, it is important to be flexible if you want things to go smoothly. Regardless of your destination, there is going to be several things to see and events to attend. That means there is going to be conflicts about what to do first or when to go to each event. Make a point of pairing up family members with similar interest if some activities occur at the same time that different groups don’t want to miss. This can cut down on arguments and make your vacation much more enjoyable for all since no one will be stuck doing something they have no interest in. Depending on the age of your family members, some may need to sleep earlier than others. Consider taking turns going to bed early so that every night owl can have a chance to party hard all night long.
#5. Pay Attention to Family, Not Electronics
One of the main reasons to go on vacation with your family is to get away from the real world and reconnect. That is hard to do if you spend your whole trip glued to your phone, tablet or laptop. Social media and work tend to be able to reach out and touch us whenever and wherever we may be and that has to stop. Be present with your family to make memories and enjoy your time together. We are not saying to leave your electronics at home but make a point not to use them until the end of each day. Laugh, joke, and immerse yourself in the moment to get the most out of your family vacation. You may be surprised at just how much you learn about your family and how much you actually don’t miss staying connected.
The Bottom Line: Traveling can be fun though traveling with your family can be a challenge. By following our handy suggestions, you will find that your vacation flows much more smoothly and your sanity will remain intact.