Many families plan on taking vacations this year. Some have not traveled in quite some time, and they’re eager and ready to go as we start getting into the warmer months. You might look into some different travel options and start lining up your financing right now.
However, if you’re bringing all the family members, you should take steps to ensure everyone will have the best possible time. Whether you plan on taking a New York City helicopter tour with Statue of Liberty views or spending time at Disneyworld, we have some tips that should make the whole experience smoother.
Get Everyone’s Input
First, you should gather everyone and ask where they’d most like to go. Obviously, if you have a two-year-old, then they won’t have an opinion. If you have at least slightly older children, though, they might have some suggestions. If you have middle school or teenage kids, they will certainly have some thoughts.
You can probably rule out some destinations because they’re too expensive or they’re impractical for other reasons. Other than that, you might feel everyone out and see whether there’s a consensus.
If you feel like leaving the options completely open doesn’t make sense, you might suggest three or four possible destinations and see which one people prefer. That way, you’re creating limited choices for simplicity’s sake, but you’re still letting the whole family get in on the decision-making process.
Figure Out the Best Way to Travel
Next, you should figure out which transportation method makes the most sense. Flying probably gets you where you’re going the fastest. However, it’s also usually the most expensive option.
If you have plenty of funds for this trip, you might feel fine flying. Perhaps you have a limited budget, though. If so, you might consider driving, or you also have options like buses or trains in some instances.
Trains don’t go everywhere, so that might take that option off the table for certain destinations. Buses go to most places, and they’re relatively cheap, but they also take a longer time. If you have young children, you can imagine their crankiness after a twenty-hour bus ride.
Driving might make sense unless you feel like it will take too long. If you’re traveling across the country, you probably can’t drive unless you took multiple weeks off from work. Consider all the variables and pick the transportation option that seems best.
Let Everyone Choose Activities
You can also bring everyone together and get input so everyone picks activities they like. Maybe you like museums, but your kids prefer waterparks. One child might like sports and hopes you’ll attend a professional baseball game. Another might prefer seeing a Broadway show or visiting a particular store where they can do some shopping.
If everyone picks some activities, you’re promoting inclusivity. You can also break up the family on certain days if a couple of people want one activity and others have no interest. If you co-parent, then you can take one contingent one place while the other parent takes the rest of the family somewhere else.
Leave Some Room for Flexibility
Maybe you’re someone who likes micromanaging. You may plan out the trip’s every detail. You might feel sure you should do a particular event one day, or you may even have several events planned for every single vacation day. You might have every rest stop and meal planned out if you’re taking a cross-country road trip.
Having a loose framework in place that you can follow makes sense, but you should also allow for some flexibility in the schedule. You might know where you’re going and have a general idea of what you’ll do when you get there, but you needn’t plan out every single event.
Remember that vacations mean relaxation and recreation at your own pace. You might arrive at your destination and decide that you should hang out at the hotel for a few hours instead of immediately sightseeing. You and the rest of the family will likely enjoy the whole experience more if you leave room for unplanned excursions or downtime.
Switch Up the Activities
You might also enjoy a trip where you have some cultural events, like visiting museums, and also frivolous ones, like stopping at bizarre roadside attractions in America’s heartland. Every family has different things they like, but you will probably have the most well-rounded experience if you do a little bit of everything while traveling.
You might choose some events that epitomize what makes a place famous. That could mean checking out MOMA or the Empire State Building if you visit New York. It could mean stopping at the grassy knoll where the Kennedy assassination took place if you visit Dallas.
You can check out some sites where American history took place, but also some ones that have no notable symbolism. You should include education and fun. That way, you’ll feel the most fulfilled when the trip concludes.
You should also make sure that you include everyone during this trip. Maybe you have a teen who’s emotionally distant, or perhaps you have a child who didn’t thrive academically this year.
Remember that just like you’re getting a break from work, the other family members can use this time as a break from household chores, peer pressure, and anything else that’s waiting for them when they get back. If any family member seems like they’re physically there but not mentally present, try going out of your way to include them.
Vacations give families a chance to reconnect, so make sure you do that with everyone if you can manage it. Let everyone open up about anything that’s on their minds.
If everyone has a fun time, that’s ideal, but if anyone needs this chance to talk about something bothering them, let that happen. Try being a receptive parent and partner, and fulfill every other function you can during this special time together.