Family Vacation. Those are two words that strike fear into the hearts of many parents (and kids – especially if they are teenagers!) Some parents can get so caught up in the details of a summer family vacation that they don’t have any fun. Other parents find the stresses involved in a vacation are so great, that by the time they get home, they need to go back to work in order to get some rest. Yet, family vacations don’t have to be feared. They can be a tremendous source of bonding, relaxation, and fun while building a future filled with great memories. The following tips can help you turn your next family vacation into a great experience.
1) Plan in advance. Planning ahead will often save you money on all of the big vacation expenses like airfare, hotels, and even attractions. This summer, with the poor economy, many families will opt to stay close to home for a "staycation" to lighten the financial burden of vacation time. Regardless of what you do for vacation, making your plans well in advance will certainly lighten your stress load and give you more time to enjoy while on your vacation.
2) Set realistic expectations. From your expectations of your kids’ behavior to expectations of family bonding to expectations of either activities or down times, set the bar at a realistic level. A successful family vacation might be wonderful and will hold many great memories, but it probably is not going to change your lives. Don’t expect vacation time to fix problems at home or work.
3) Leave work at home. Unless you have one of those jobs where you absolutely must maintain communication with your work, don’t take work with you, don't check your e-mail or text messages, and don't answer your cell phone. It may take you some time when you get back to work to get back up to speed, but your family deserves your full attention while on vacation – not to mention the fact that you need time away from work as well!
4) Value your time together. Your living, sleeping, and eating arrangements may well be different. Your family may have to sleep in one room together. You may not be able to find a quiet place. You may not be able to prepare food as you would at home. Be aware of these factors going into a vacation and don’t stress out about them. Rather, make the best of your circumstances, valuing these unique experiences and enjoying your family’s time together.
5) Relax. You cannot see everything, do everything, and experience everything in one vacation. Don’t even try. Don’t plan out every minute of your vacation. Leave room in your schedule for spontaneity. Be willing to compromise on activities. On vacation, no one ever gets to do everything they want to do, but do your best to make sure that everyone in the family gets to do something that they want to do (moms and dads included!)