Between “are we there yet?” and a week trapped in close quarters, family vacations don’t always happen as expected. But the wealth of laughs and adventures more than make up for the quarrels—as long as you work out a plan for the trip!
Though family travel brings its own complications, keeping a few tips in mind can help you reap the rewards as well. Here’s what you should consider for an unforgettable family vacation.
1. Get Everyone’s Input on the Activities
If your kids are old enough, you might want to get their input on the final itinerary.
Figure out what fun family outings will be possible in the area where you’re staying. From there, narrow the options down to just a handful before presenting them to the family. Let each person pick one activity or event they’d really love.
This strategy is a great way to build excitement and make sure your kids buy into the trip schedule.
2. Consider the Timing of Your Family Vacation
One of the biggest expenses of your family vacation will probably be the airfare—but it doesn’t have to break the bank!
If possible, see if you can book an off-season trip. For example, your kids may be able to bring homework along to make a fall or spring trip possible. This can help you avoid weekend travel dates, which can save hundreds of dollars if you’re buying multiple tickets.
You’ll also want to book about 3 weeks to 4 months in advance, according to recent research, for cheaper flights. And if you can afford it, a direct flight can be much easier than uprooting your kids to hop from plane to plane!
3. Invite Others Along
While it’s sometimes nice to have small adventures with your nuclear family, having friends or extended family on the trip can be a great choice as well. Whether you want to split the bills for a tight budget or have more grown-ups available to mind all the kids, having friends and family can add a little extra excitement to the journey.
4. Balance Entertainment and Culture
Sure, your kids would love it if the only things on the itinerary were fairs and amusement parks. But adding in a healthy dose of museums and culture can help balance things out for the adults on the journey, and you might just find that these educational experiences make your kids’ eyes light up as well.
Either way, make sure to start the day off with the cultural options first, leaving the “fun” activities as an afternoon reward for good behavior.
5. Think Ahead With Food and Snacks
Fine dining may be fun, but paying for restaurants at every meal can really add up. Instead, plan out your food and snacks in advance to avoid making impulse decisions when everyone is hungry.
Try finding a hotel with complimentary breakfast, or rent lodgings that allow you to cook your own meals. Bring plenty of snacks (and bottled water) in your day bag to prevent impending tantrums.
Plan Your Dream Family Vacation
No matter where you dream of going, these family vacation ideas will get you started. Keep them in mind as you pare down your options and plan your trip, but don’t be afraid to go with the flow once you hit the ground running. Some of the best family vacations involve plenty of spur-of-the-moment fun!
Looking for more travel tips to help you survive your next family trip? Check out our other posts for more insights.