It’s been a long two years. Even if you’ve had a weekend getaway here and there, the family vacation may have been put on hold. This summer? It’s back!
That means you have some planning to do. Time away is meant to help you relax. To maximize that kick-back time, do some prep work now. The more potential problems you address before the trip, the fewer hiccups you’ll have when you’re on it.
To make your family vacation as calm and fun as possible, think about these planning steps. Everyone will thank you when they’re chilling, stress-free during your time away.
1. Get Connected
A family vacation is about “together time,” but don’t expect to spend every moment attached at the hip. When you want to sit by the pool, your kids may ask to hit the boardwalk for ice cream. Not to worry — you don’t have to pack up your beach towel, book, and sunscreen to satisfy their double-cone desires.
Enable your child to stay in contact with a cell phone for kids. You can program your number into their phone to text or call as needed. In addition, some phones come with a feature that lets you check your child’s location. You’ll have peace of mind, and they’ll get some freedom (and hot fudge with sprinkles).
2. Pre-Plan for Safety
The chances of anything going wrong while you’re away are slim. This isn’t the movies, after all. No one’s leaving Kevin home alone this time. Still, emergencies do happen, and you need to be prepared.
Take the time before you travel to talk with your kids about where you’re going. Show them a map and choose meet-up spots if you get separated. If you’re traveling internationally and you don’t speak the language, grab a hotel card with the address on it. At the very least, you can show it to someone who may point you in the right direction.
3. Read Up on Travel Restrictions
No matter where you go, you’ll likely find some type of lingering COVID-19 travel restrictions. Cities, states, and countries all have different guidelines, and you need to know what they are. Remember, this is about more than just your final destination. You must consider everywhere you’re going to be, including places you’re just passing through.
Even though travel restrictions are starting to relax, check about testing policies. Some places may still require a quarantine period after you arrive — that can cut into your vacation time. If you’re worried, check current risk levels and plan accordingly. Be sure to pack enough hand sanitizer and keep masks on hand in case you need them.
4. Bring In an Expert
With so many travel sites these days, working with a travel agent may feel old school. However, between flights, hotels, event tickets, and restaurants, there’s a lot to consider. Planning everything yourself can be stressful — the exact opposite of what you want.
So let a pro take care of it all for you. They know the tricks behind finding the best deals. It might be a free hotel upgrade, a discounted show ticket, or a bump up to first class. Tell them what you want. Then, relax and leave the vacay planning to the expert.
5. Decide on a Shared Goal
For your vacation, do you like to visit famous landmarks? Do your kids enjoy playing games? Or does your partner prefer to veg out with a beach umbrella on the sand? It’s all great — just be sure you pre-plan for some family moments. Before you go, have everyone agree to at least one shared daily activity.
Maybe it’s trying a new food every night at dinner or learning a new TikTok dance together every afternoon. Set the expectation that everyone should participate. You’ll have fewer fights and grumpy moods. Plus, your family will get excited about the group experiences.
6. Set Screen Time Parameters
When considering family “together time,” being in the same room while on a smartphone or tablet doesn’t count. Your beach trip or mountain getaway is a great time to take a breather from your online life, too. That includes you and your partner.
Let everyone know that your family is unplugging while you’re away. Of course, emergency contacts are fine, but day-to-day things can wait. Talk about it with your kids long before you leave. They may need time to mentally prepare for a fully IRL vacation — you might, too!
7. Keep Up With Your Routines
Sure, vacations give you a nice break from the norm. When you’re someplace new, though, routines can be relaxing. Keep some of your rituals and use them to help you chill out after long, hard days of having fun.
Share your favorite moments of the day over dinner — you’ll enjoy the laughs and conversation. Bring your favorite coffee or tea if you have access to a kitchen. Most importantly, if you’re traveling with small children, stick as closely as you can to their nighttime routine. Bring their favorite books to read to them. It will help them unwind and sleep in an unfamiliar place.
After two years of staycations, your family vacation is ready for a triumphant comeback. Take a deep breath — your visions of relaxing and care-free downtime can be a reality. All it takes is a little planning and prep work. Follow these steps and your getaway will be the stressless break everyone in your family needs.