Summertime is in full swing and most families are on the move trying to fit in as much fun as possible before school starts. When you think of all the different types of family vacations you can take, the possibilities are staggering. However, when you keep the basics covered during your family vacation, you can take your kids just about anywhere and they will have the time of their lives.
Here are 6 essential tips for your next family vacation:
Involve everyone in the family during the planning stage
Enable each member of the family to choose and plan one activity. The kids will like having a voice in family decisions, and everyone will feel invested in the vacation. If you have older kids, ask them to research popular activities on the web to provide some ideas for discussion.
Simplify packing by creating and using vacation-tested lists
This one is pure planning gold. Most families have patterns and you can make planning and packing easier by establishing a core packing list. You end up packing the same or similar essentials for virtually every trip. Create the list and print it out to serve as your base list. Then you can add the trip specific items to it. Leave out a pad of paper a week before and begin to write down what to bring as the items come to mind. Use the combined list as the packing checklist to and back from vacation. Also, if you go to the beach each summer or skiing in the spring, save those lists as well. Will make next year’s trip packing a breeze.
Always book the first available flight
This is important and will save you a lot of trouble. I know it can be tough getting up early, but the airport will be peaceful and quiet. The first plane also has the greatest chance of leaving on time. As the day progresses, flight delays start to mount and the terminal becomes filled with travelers. Leave early, skip the stress and all the grouchy travelers. And you’ll arrive at your destination earlier in the day so you can enjoy more vacation time.
Plan a vacation’s eve party and rehearse the security line
Parents stress about the airport experience, particularly going through the security checkpoint. Do a “practice run” the night before. Pretend your kitchen table is where you put your things, a salad bowl acts as a bin, a doorway works as a metal detector. The more you prepare and make it an adventure the less stressful (and quicker) going through security will be. And the “party” will release some of the built-up anticipation the night before.
Make time for naps
This sounds a little silly, but it’s critical to fit in some shut-eye whenever you can. Naps are vital to a stress-free family vacation, so build in some kind of break every afternoon. If the kids don’t nap, have them draw or write in a journal. That quiet time will recharge everyone’s batteries for a more enjoyable evening.
Teach your kids how to buy souvenirs
Buying the right keepsake to remind you of a special trip is no easy task. Plan to spend some time explaining the goal of souvenir and gift shopping to your little travel companions. Then set a budget and coach them through a series of good choices vs. not so good choices. Take time to help them grasp the attributes of a really good souvenir/gift. Great exercise in budgeting and making it count!
What are your essential travel tips for family vacations?