How to Guarantee the Best Family Vacation Ever

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Traveling as a family can be extremely rewarding, but it is not without its challenges. For those of you wishing to embark on an adventure together, these tips will show you how to enjoy traveling as a family and return home not only still speaking with each other, but with a closer relationship as well. 

You’ve been working hard planning and saving for this vacation and you want this to be a trip of a lifetime with memories to match. Maybe this plan has been in the works for years. Maybe you finally have the opportunity to take the vacation you desire. Or maybe, you finally just decided that you need to pack your bags now or you’ll never take the trip. Whatever the reason, you want to make sure this vacation is amazing! 

However, even though you have worked out the funds for your trip and the time of year that works best, there are a few things you need to make sure you have prepared before takeoff. We know because we have used these tips to make traveling full time easier for our family so we know they will work for anyone. 

Because we are a traveling family, people assume that we must REALLY love each other to want to spend 24/7 together. The truth is, we struggle with all this time together. We miss our alone time and personal space at times. But, traveling together is extremely rewarding and we have learned so much from each other when we take the time to unplug and explore. The following advice was very helpful for our family traveling together. This has worked for us and I know it can work for you too.

1. Go Somewhere That Everyone Will Enjoy

This might go without saying, but I know a lot of people think that just because they want to go somewhere, everyone does. We have learned overtime to include Eleanor (our now 5 year old daughter) in the planning process. We do that through talking about movies she likes and where the different characters are from. For instance, when we visited Seville, we used her love of the movie Ferdinand to get her excited about the trip in general and particularly our road trip to see Puente Nueva in Ronda.

Of course, since at 5 years old she has no concept of the world beyond what we show her, we do not rely on her for suggestions of where to travel. Instead we present a few options and work as a family to create an itinerary that will keep us all happy. This works wonders when you are in the middle of the trip and something does not go quite as planned. You can either fall back on your itinerary or work together to make changes, but it helps to get you all on the same page. 


2. Make Sure Everyone is On Board

As alluded to in tip #1, having a plan of action helps get everyone prepared for the trip before you leave home. This helps little ones know what to expect. Remember that being in a foreign country may be a little stressful for them. It’s never enough to hold you back from traveling, but it is a good idea to tell them what they can expect when you arrive. Discuss the language people will be speaking, the food they eat, what kind of weather you anticipate, and where you will be staying. This helps your family adjust to the new temporary environment more quickly. 


3. Discuss How to Handle Discipline on Vacation

It’s inevitable. Your child will act up on vacation. There is too much going on for the trip to be perfectly rosy. Sleep schedules are disrupted. Food choices may be more relaxed. You’re probably spending more time outside. But, instead of letting it derail the vacation you’ve planned, discuss how you will handle disciple before you pack your bags. Maybe you will be more relaxed than at home, maybe not. But, having an idea of what to do when necessary will cut down on the stress between you and your partner. 


4. Divide and Conquer

Use your strengths and divide the travel tasks amongst the family. If one of you loves planning and looking for hotels, then they should be in charge of this. Perhaps the other is better at navigating. Look at what you each enjoy doing and delegate. You can also get your kids in on the action. 

We have our daughter pack her own toys for the plane. This might be crazy, but this way she is in charge of what she brings. We supervise, but she makes the final decisions on this. Brett is in charge of the electronics. He makes sure everything is charged before travel days so that we are not sitting on a 5 hour train ride with no juice. I make sure our clothes are clean before we head to the next destination and pack the snacks.


5. Don’t Lose Sight of the Prize

The goal of your vacation was to connect as a family not stress over the little details and end up in an argument. If something goes wrong, there will be a solution to it. Remember why you took this vacation in the first place. 

One way we remember to do this is to think about what we would be doing back home. Would it be circle time at school? How about the weekly standup meeting? The various client calls? Usually the excitement of travel, even when it is tough, is better than the regular schedule you would be in at home. 


6. Leave Time To Relax

This one is hard for us because of the fear of missing out on a great experience. But, over time we have learned that resetting and connecting are the most important factors of a vacation. Relaxation will not come by dragging your kids to another museum or historical site. But, it might come from the family game night you could

 find yourself playing because of a spotty internet connection. Oh, and remember, naps on vacation are always a good idea. 


7. Remember to Laugh

Traveling can be stressful. We cannot always control what happens or what the weather will be like, but we can choose how we react to any given situation. Laugh when you can. Studies show that laughter releases endorphins, fosters brain connectivity, and strengthens relationships. It really is the best medicine so look for the silver lining or funny moments throughout each day.


8. Be Extra Considerate

Remember that we all react to situations differently. It’s best to layer on an extra dose of sweetness to those who matter most. Yes, you may be tired and hungry, but snapping at those you love is never the best solution. If you are having a tough time, they probably are too. Give everyone a bit more slack and know that love is the tie that bonds the strongest. React with love and patience instead of lashing out in anger. 


9. Be Generous and Splurge Where it Matters

Be frugal when it makes sense. For instance, if your hotel does not come with breakfast, you can pick up items at the local grocery store to eat before you head out each day. But, if the group is tired from exploring all day and it’s boiling hot outside, consider taking a cab back to the hotel for a mid-day rest. These splurges will help keep moral up and exhaustion in check. You do not have to break the budget for these, but remember to factor a few in. This is why we’ve ridden in Tuk Tuks in Sintra and a bicycle cab in Berlin. Oh and when it’s hot, it’s a great excuse for some ice cream!


10. Capture the Best Memories

Enjoy the moments on vacation while capturing the memories that matter. In 10 years you will not care about the blurry picture of the statue or the details of a church. Unless you are a professional travel photographer, there are probably better images online anyway. What you will care about are what you and your kids looked like. The smiles and love. That stuff is the best! Be sure to capture that stuff.

Our favorite way to capture these memories is with video. You can see some of our favorite videos on our Instagram feed. These are short, sweet, and tell the story of our time in a place. 

Several people have asked us how we make these videos. I’ll have a blog post about our equipment soon, but we are also working on a course to show you our exact process for capturing our family trips in these fun and entertaining videos. If you are interested in learning more when the course launches, let us know here.

We know first hand how rewarding traveling as a family can be. Hopefully these tips will help you on your journey to plan the perfect family vacation. Let us know where you are traveling in the comments! We love to hear other travel stories too.

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