Well, the time is finally drawing near. That long awaited and much anticipated family vacation is fast approaching. You will be off on a new adventure soon.
Oh my, suddenly panic sets in as you scramble to get everything pulled together. You search and search, but the reservation receipts and travel itineraries are nowhere to be found. You break into a cold sweat and begin mumbling out loud. This has quickly turned into the vacation from hell! You now find yourself screaming until suddenly you are awakened to find it was a bad, bad dream.
Your vacation is supposed to be relaxing and carefree, and booking this anticipated fun-filled event should be stress free as well. When planning your vacation it is always best to research your destination, accommodations, and itineraries well in advance. That’s how Ward and June Cleaver would do it, right? Well, reality says it doesn’t always work that way. Job deadlines, appointments and other day-to-day events often throw a wrench into the mix. Besides, there is always that last-minute deal out there somewhere to pull you through. And where do you suppose your own Wally and Beaver would like to go on vacation?
After you have decided that you are going on a family vacation, the next step is to decide where to go. The tourism industry offers many destinations that will welcome you but certainly there are some choices that are better than others for family vacations. Since you have decided that you will go on vacation with your children, it is clear that this must be the primary consideration in choosing the destination.
Here are some quick travel tips to help you choose and to get the most out of your family vacation:
1 ==> Start making your travel plans early. The earlier you can commit yourself to your travel plans, the more options you will have and the better the deals are likely to be
2 ==> Be firm and decide early about transportation arrangements
3 ==> Focus on just a few places instead of many
4 ==> Stay in one area and discover it’s many dimensions: people, history, museums, music, food, monuments, etc. Excess travel can eat up precious vacation time
5 ==> Read as much as possible about the place(s) you are visiting. Browse your public library and read all available guide books for background information and to get a sense of the local culture
6 ==> Get a map of your destination and become familiar with it ahead of time
7 ==> Once you are on your way, get your nose out of the guide book. This should only be for researching your destination prior to your trip.
8 ==> Travel light – enough said!
9 ==> Don’t try to do everything. Slow down and build some time into your schedule to relax, play and be spontaneous, especially since you are traveling with kids.
10 ==> Stay alert and hang on to your possessions
A great tool to involve the whole family in your vacation experience is to create a travel journal for your children. They can use a notebook and write a story telling what they experienced each day. You can create a game for them where they count something they see, other children they meet, or towns, etc., and they can keep that information in their journal.
Our favorite activity has always been to give each child a map of the United States and have them color in each state from which they saw a license plate on the trip. On a recent trip to Branson, Missouri we were able to find over 40 different states. We located them as a team in order to avoid arguing over who saw one first and this created more of a sense of working together.
Another option to quell the “are we there yet” syndrome is to download some good positive audio books onto their MP3 players. Get your kids interested in an audio book and you’ve got the makings of a successful vacation. In her audio book, Tips for the Savvy Traveler, author Deborah Burns says: “The single most important ingredient of successful travel is a positive attitude.” Having a positive attitude will allow you to turn what might be disappointment into a learning experience. For example, bad weather may cancel some plans and force you indoors only to discover something you would not have learned otherwise.
In conclusion, choosing the destination and itinerary for your family vacation is totally up to you! These are merely suggestions. You are the one who knows best what is interesting for your children and what is not. Take into account what is suitable for them and what is preferred by you. Choose a destination or vacation package which offers the best combination of activities that appeals to all of you — and you are halfway there.