There is no shame in needing a vacation from a vacation after traveling with young children. But the lifelong memories you create with your family make every moment of stress worth the effort.
The key to planning the perfect vacation is keeping your fantasies in check. As you begin your research of picture-perfect destinations, consider these 7 essential tips for planning the perfect vacation for your family.
1. The Budget
Conventional wisdom always points to the budget as a starting point for any conversation about travel. But for a family vacation, budget planning isn’t just about stating what you can afford.
Budgeting for a vacation is about understanding the individual needs of each family member so that you can make predictions about what you’ll need day-to-day. Have a member of the family who isn’t potty trained?
Weigh the cost of buying diapers at your destination versus paying the extra luggage fees when taking long trips. If your spouse love to surf, bringing a favorite board along won’t seem like as big an inconvenience if it’s priced well in advance.
2. The Season
Traveling during the off-season can prove less stressful, less expensive and, therefore, one of the best options for families. You might have a challenge coordinating with school calendars if you have children in different schools, but you can sometimes save thousands of dollars just by flying out on specific days of the week.
Check both the local weather trends in your destination and the availability of tourist attractions. Some places have limited hours outside of peak season to account for the decreased demand.
But more often you’ll get the chance to experience exclusive tours with less of a crowd and cheaper hotel costs. For example, visiting Oahu during the rainy season means increasing your chances of experiencing a tour of Pearl Harbor, which is commonly sold out during peak season.
The term ‘rainy season’ is also relative. There are parts of the island of Oahu that won’t get much rainfall allowing you to still enjoy the beach.
Do your homework to understand how to navigate your destination during its downtimes.
3. The Destination
The perfect vacation doesn’t have to mirror your ultimate fantasy in order to be an amazing experience. Until you’re an expert on a certain destination, starting small is the best way to build on your vacation every year.
Here are five essential things your destination should offer:
- Easy airport access
- More attractions than you can visit in a week
- Friendly locals
- Easy currency exchange
- Centuries of culture to explore
Choose a destination that your family can repeat every year. This destination might only be bucket-list-adjacent, but if it offers the top five family vacation essentials, it’s worth considering for repeat getaways.
The more familiar you are with one destination, the easier it’ll be to anticipate your vacation needs each year.
4. The Compromise
There’s no such thing as a conflict-free family vacation. But enforcing a time-out while traveling isn’t always possible.
It’s important to communicate the rules of engagement with your children to help them navigate disappointments while traveling. Talk to your spouse about the best way to enforce consequences while abroad.
Disputes over dinner, activities, what time to visit the beach or how much to spend on souvenirs will come up. Decide with your family members in advance how to handle compromise in the face of disagreement to avoid unneeded stress.
If you can get everyone’s buy-in early, you can help minimize disappointments. Challenge your children to come up with alternate options for their favorite activities as part of your conflict resolution plan.
5. The Lazy Day
Boredom isn’t a disease. Letting an overscheduled child experience dull moments is actually a great way to help them have a better vacation.
Long vacations need an unscheduled day or set of days, to allow time for spontaneity. Being on a constant schedule during a vacation can make relaxation and fun feel like more of an obligation than an escape.
Set aside one or two unscheduled days where no one has to be anywhere at a specific time. This is your moment for spontaneous napping and letting your kids sneak in a few more moments of in-room screen time.
6. The Childcare
The perfect vacation isn’t about constant photo ops with your children. Choosing a destination with safe, affordable childcare options can make all the difference in your ability to relax.
Cruise ships and hotel resorts commonly have kids clubs where children can find days packed with activities, new friends and entertainment. At family-friendly resorts, after-hours childcare can give you the chance at a quiet dinner with your spouse or a chance to experience the local nightlife.
7. The Food
There’s only so many french fries parents want to eat while on vacation. All-inclusive vacation destinations are a great option for families.
These hotels and resorts offer unlimited food and drinks from a variety of restaurants on the property. At a moment’s notice, you can have everyone’s favorite food in hand if you choose a food-friendly destination.
Research your choices before making a final decision on where to stay. Choose a resource like bookvip reviews to get feedback on how other families navigated food options at resorts you want to visit.
Booking Your Perfect Vacation
After all the research and planning, booking your perfect vacation is a major accomplishment. Review sites can help you find the best deals for the time of year you plan to travel.
These sites are helpful in providing photos where you can view rooms that haven’t been photoshopped or cropped to show the resort on its best behavior. For more information and lifestyle tips, check our blog for updates.