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tips for a successful family vacation

4 Steps To Help You Plan Your Family Vacation

Whatever our walk of life, one thing we all seem to have in common is that we just can’t wait until it’s time for our next vacation. This is not surprising since, everyone, even children, benefit greatly from a much needed change away from the everyday, even if it’s for only a day or two. It’s well known that families can benefit from the opportunity to spend vacation time together. Without the immediate pressures of work, school and social commitments, families are more able to find time to enjoy each other’s company and have “fun” together. Though it is definitely more challenging to vacation with children, the experience does not necessarily need to leave you more exhausted than before your break. The most disappointing family vacations happen when the vacation does not satisfy all family members’ vacation needs.

Some forethought when planning a family vacation can make all the difference. Though younger children may need some help with contributing to this process, the key is that the whole family should be involved to some extent. The following 4 step plan will help you match your vacation to your family’s needs and give you the best chance at planning a most successful family vacation.

  1. Take some time to consider everyone’s vacation need or goal. Jot down each family member’s idea of what they would like the vacation to accomplish for them. Some examples of vacation goals are: get lots of rest; get lots of exercise; learn something new; see a new place; meet new people; have very few decisions to make; play in the sand; be outdoors; visit with relatives; be where its warm; try out a particular sport; not see a single person that you know; eat out every day, etc. Try not to think of locations when doing this step, such as “go to Disney World” – it will limit your possibilities, instead, write down the important things that going to Disney World would accomplish for you (being thrilled by new experiences, meeting Mickey Mouse, going somewhere sunny). Don’t worry if goals seem to conflict, identifying all the different needs that a family vacation should address is an important planning step.
  2. Next, have the whole family establish the parameters within which your vacation must fit. What is the most amount of money you can spend? What is longest time you can be away? What is the longest time you are willing to devote to travel? Are there any means of transportation that you will not take? Are there medical or other special considerations?
  3. This next step is the most fun and can also be an educational opportunity for your children to learn about other places. Consider all the possibilities available within the parameters that your family has set. Have everyone contribute suggestions. Use vacation guides, maps and an atlas to get ideas as to what is available and how to get there. Be creative – remember that being on vacation doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to leave home – taking day trips from home may meet more of your family’s
    needs, especially if you are on a tight budget. Make a list of the possibilities. Now is the time to list specific places.
  4. Measure each vacation possibility against the vacation need/goal list that you developed in the first step. Narrow down your list to those places or possibilities which would most closely meet at least one of each person’s goals. Some possibilities will clearly not accomplish certain goals, such as vacationing in California if your goal is to Alpine ski, but most goals can be creatively worked in. For example, meeting the goals of “listening to big band music” and “riding a roller coaster” can both be accomplished at certain theme amusement parks. Don’t forget to work in ways to meet those important personal goals, such as getting some rest, or not having to answer the phone. With some creativity, these can be accomplished on almost any vacation; identifying in advance how your family will do this is the key to success. Choose what works best for your family, don’t worry about matching the current vacation trends or what you did last year.

It’s also important to note that common contradictory goals for family vacations are when parents want “rest and relaxation” and kids want “play and party.” If this is the case, then it is important to find ways to address both. Many resorts offer supervised children’s activities during portions of the day as well as opportunities for the whole family to play together. If the expense of a resort is beyond your means, think of other ways to accomplish this, such as: hire a teenage sitter to come along to the cottage or on a day trip; take turns with the children so that each parent can get some type of a break; vacation with another family and share the child care responsibilities (especially helpful for single parents); plan lower energy, yet equally fun activities, such as going to the movies or mini golfing.

Successful family vacations require only a little forethought and planning so that everyone’s needs can be met … and don’t forget that the planning can be half the fun!

Carizon Community Services shared this blog. Community Services deliver programs to groups of people where they live, connecting individuals, families and neighbourhoods, reducing isolation and providing resources to create stronger families and caring communities.