If you’re among the many families who plan vacations for the second half of summer, or possibly even early into the new school year, now’s your time to put the finishing touches on your specific plans. You probably already know where you’re going and when … but have you finalized the “what” that will be happening during your time away from home? Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to plan ahead, so that you can make the most of your family fun time together, and so that each family member has the opportunity to enjoy this special time to its fullest.
Except for the youngest children, begin by making your vacation planning a full family project. Have an idea in advance of what your time and budget limitations are, and then involve your kids in helping to fill the time. For children in middle school or high school, consider giving them a research assignment, to find appropriate things for the trip that the entire family will enjoy. You may even want to add an educational component to the assignment. You might be surprised how much children will learn and how much fun they will have in museums and historical sites, when activities are age appropriate for them. In all cases, give advance thought to your activities. For younger children, pre-select options and give them the choice within those parameters. It can even be something as basic as “playground or swimming pool?” For older kids, give strong consideration to giving them the opportunity to plan a portion of the trip.
Activity level and balance are 2 other important factors. Teenagers might find water parks and adventure-based activities appealing, but it’s a good idea to build in some downtime. Think about bringing along a few favorite movies for the family to watch together in designated quiet times. If your plans include a theme or water park, start late, leave early, or build a break time in the middle of the day, so that family members don’t get worn out. Particularly if your vacation spot is far away, the combination of physical activity and extensive travel can wear a family out. You don’t want to come back from vacation more exhausted than when you left. Balance can also apply to the parents. If you have relatives or trusted friends living near your destination, or have older children with babysitting talents, set aside some quiet time to enjoy without younger family members. This can be a break that everyone will enjoy.
The ultimate goal is to make your family vacation a truly enjoyable experience, that will bring back fond memories for many years to become. With some advance planning and teamwork, your odds of success are high.