Family vacations always seem like a great idea . . . until you’re stuck in an airport with a fussy toddler or driving down the road to an endless track of “Are we there yet?” But family trips are the stuff of lasting memories; they help us reconnect and form stronger bonds with the people we love most. Here are six tips to make your next family vacation the best ever.
A great family vacation is one after which every family member comes home with memories they’ve made together.
1. Set realistic expectations.
Before you even begin planning, take stock of your expectations for the trip. Are they realistic? There’s nothing that can ruin a trip faster than going in with preconceived notions of how things will go. Family vacations are primarily about spending meaningful time together, so make sure your attitude reflects that.
2. Choose a destination that fosters togetherness.
There are vacation spots that have something for everyone, but often that means family members split up for activities and events. While a little bit of that may be okay, consider a place that fosters family togetherness, where there are activities that everyone can experience at the same time. A great family vacation is one after which every family member comes home with memories they’ve made together.
Be present to your family and to the full vacation experience . . .
3. Leave your electronics at home (or tuck them away).
Everywhere you go, adults and teens are glued to their smartphones—even while they’re on vacation. Don’t let that be you. Be present to your family and to the full vacation experience by taking a break from your digital devices. If you must remain connected for work or personal reasons, place limits around your gadgets by leaving them in your room, turning them off for large portions of the day, and allowing yourself to connect only at certain times. Your family bond will be strengthened by your undivided attention.
4. Make travel time part of the vacation.
The travel to and from a destination can often be the most stressful part of a trip, especially when kids are in tow, but it doesn’t have to be miserable. Think of the travel time as part of the vacation and make a plan for how to make it fun and stress-free for all—download audiobooks, pack fun travel bags for the kids, play games, and bring snacks. Whether by car, plane, boat, or train, travel can produce some of the most memorable moments of a trip.
5. Plan well . . . but stay flexible.
The best vacations are planned just enough to make sure all goes smoothly, but not so much that you can’t be flexible. When you travel as a family it’s particularly important that you don’t over-schedule, that you plan for lots of down time, and that it isn’t too arduous to change plans if need be. If your schedule allows you to be flexible, the entire trip will be less stressful and more enjoyable.
The next time you’re planning a family vacation, plan with these tips in mind. You’re bound to come home with lifelong memories and stronger bonds with one another.
Matthew Kelly is an internationally acclaimed speaker and New York Times bestselling author. Learn more about him here.