6 Tips for Planning a Family Vacation

family planning a vacation is all smiles around the tableThe summer season comes with a lot of extras for kids and families. Sleeping in, more downtime, camps, and family vacations. As children, we rarely understood the efforts our parents made when planning the summer vacations that live forever in our memories.

Even with all the planning, there is still plenty of stress when it comes to summer vacations. But planning a trip with children does not have to be overwhelming. Traveling will be whatever we make out of it and here are some tips to help make planning a family vacation less hectic and more fun!

Set Goals, Not a Schedule

What is the purpose of the trip? Are you going to relax and enjoy the beach? Is the goal to see all the sights? Are you hoping to experience a new culture? Whatever the goal is, focus on that. Don’t set expectations past those goals.

Does this mean that scheduling activities should be off the table? Absolutely not! Certain things need to be pre-planned, but everything should help attain the goal. Sit down with your family, figure out the goal, and encourage everyone to stick to that goal.

Make a List

When planning a summer vacation, make a list of what you need. This removes a lot of stress, especially if traveling with children. As soon as you decide on the destination, start your list. Family Vacation Critic has a great list of all the different types of lists you could possibly need as you prepare to embark on your trip.

open suitcase

Let Kids Help Plan the Family Vacation

Before there is any eye-rolling, involving children in the planning of their family vacation gives them an incentive to fully participate. This is especially true for teens who might be less enthusiastic about a family vacation. Involving kids can be as simple as parents narrowing down the trip to a few destinations, and letting the kids decide the final location.

family looking at passport

Let each child plan either an entire day or part of a day on the vacation. This not only ensures each child gets to do something that interests them, but you are encouraging them to think about doing activities as a family. This gives kids a say in how they spend their vacation. Remember it is theirs just as much as yours.

Know Your Location and Travel Requirements

With COVID restrictions and testing varying from destination to destination, this summer it is essential to know where masks are required, if you need your vaccination card, or if a negative test is required for travel. Knowing this information ahead of time will save you and your family time, stress, and possibly changes to your trip. Check the airlines, TSA, hotels, and resorts. If you are traveling to another country, or on a cruise, know if you need a test and book it as early as you can. And while you are planning all of this, CHECK YOUR PASSPORTS!

Unplug

Disconnecting from the busyness of life is hard. However, it is important to remember the goal of the trip, and that these trips are fleeting with each passing year. So put down the phones, silence social media, bust out the camera, allow for adventure, and enjoy your summer!

People on family vacation standing on top of mountain with hands raised

Essentials for Family Travel

Here are a few essentials that really cut down on the family travel stress.

Hanging Closet Organizer: This is a gamechanger for those who hate living out of suitcases or watching kids rummage through one like a raccoon. Not only are they easy to pack, but you can pack the clothes in the organizer and when you arrive, pull it out, hand it up and each child knows where their stuff is.

Activity Lap Table: If you are planning a road trip you will inevitably hear “are we there yet?” This tip will not eliminate that question but can help cut back on its frequency. When you travel with kids you need a lot of stuff and a lot to keep them entertained. This activity table allows them to travel with their favorite toys and activities to help keep them entertained.

Portable Chargers: These are essential when traveling. You never know where you will be when your phone, tablet, laptop, or camera starts to run out of battery. Getting one of these helps keep batteries charged throughout the day.

Gift Cards for Kids: This was a tip that has been a lifesaver for our family. Whether going to Disney World, the beach, or any other location, kids always ask for souvenirs. This can be very tiresome, so now our son gets a gift card with a set amount on it and his souvenirs are bought with that. This tip helps with responsibility and encourages children and teens to think before they buy the first shiny thing that catches their eye.

Soak up the laughs and the smiles. Stay up late and eat the extra scoop of ice cream. Trips should not be stressful; they are to be enjoyed.


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Whitney P. was raised in the Houston area, the third oldest of six children. After high school she attended and graduated from Texas A&M earning a degree in Communications and Political Science where she met her husband Tim. After college, Whitney worked as the Communications Director for a private school in Austin before returning to Houston in 2008 to work as a corporate fundraiser for non-profits before her the call into ordained ministry. Whitney resides in Katy and is an Associate Pastor at St. Peter’s UMC overseeing Care and Special Needs ministries. Whitney and Tim adopted their first child Jase {March 2013} in 2013, and he is living his best dinosaur loving life. Besides her work and family, Whitney’s greatest passions are reading, discussing and celebrating anything related to Harry Potter, traveling near and far, and training for half-marathons. Whitney has a personal blogOur Color Filled Life.

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