There’s much to love about gathering your crew and going on a trip. There’s just so much potential to have a great time and create plenty of life-long memories. However, while there’s plenty of potential for goodness, that’s far from guaranteed. If you’ve ever taken a trip with your family before that didn’t quite go to plan, then you’ll know all too well just how stressful family trips can become.
That’s why we’re here to help. No trip is perfect, but with the right tips, you can give yourself the best shot. Scroll through to find some of our favorite family travel tips. Happy travels!
Keep It Relaxed
Just because you’re “preparing,” that doesn’t mean that planning should be stressful. If you take a relaxed approach to things, then you’ll find that you enjoy every inch of your travel adventure, from the ideas to the planning to enjoy to the execution of said ideas when you are actually there. Problems typically arise when it feels like you’re trying to force things — if there are too many complications preventing you from scheduling a trip, making it feel like you need a vacation from your trip planning, then take my life-learned advice, ‘Wait until another time.’
Where To Go
You can make things much, much easier for yourself by choosing the right destination. The world is a big place. Some are downright inappropriate for kids, while others will just make things more challenging. Fortunately, there are plenty of family-friendly destinations to choose from. Right at the top of the list is Texas, Florida, just because there’s so much fun stuff to do — indeed, it can feel like the state was created so that families can enjoy themselves. Other options include some national parks, especially Yellowstone and The Grand Canyon, and also cities that are modern without being overwhelming, such as San Diego and Washington DC.
When To Go
It’s not just about picking the best destination — you’ll also want to pick the right time of year to visit, too. In many cases, destinations change modes depending on the time of year. For example, you’d have one type of experience in Florida during early spring, and a completely different experience during late summer. In that scenario, you should choose spring — late summer can be extremely humid, which might make it difficult to keep your children, especially younger children, happy.
Of course, it’s another good reason for a little pre-trip planning. If you take the time to do it, it can save you time, energy and frustration from unexpected surprises.
Where to Stay
No matter where you decide to go, there will most likely be plenty of options regarding accommodations. You can elevate your trip by choosing the right spot for you and your family. Of course, personal preference comes into play here.
For my family, it is typically best if I can get a place where we can all stay together, and, ideally, a place that has a kitchen or at least a microwave. That’ll ensure that you don’t have to always head out when you’re feeling a little hungry — it’ll both help to keep everyone well fed and save a bit of money, too.
Another good tip: choose somewhere that’s located nearby to the attractions that you want to visit. You might be tempted to save money by staying out of town, but you’ll quickly grow tired of traveling to and from the center where the action is — unless that is the goal ‘to get away from it all’.
Be Travel Ready
No matter how you’re planning to travel, it’ll be important to ensure that you’re ready for smooth sailing with your family. For this, it’ll be important to pack two crucial ingredients: plenty of entertainment and plenty of snacks. If there are two things that can cause children to become problematic, it’s boredom and hunger. Know your kids and choose options that they enjoy and occupy their attention.
Pre-Book Wherever Possible
If there’s one thing that’s virtually guaranteed to cause problems when you’re on your vacation, it’s just standing around, especially in this pre-post-mid-pandemic world. If you just turn up at a lot of places, then you might find that you spend much more time than you’d like just waiting to get into an attraction — if it is even open.
I have found that my family has a finite amount of patience, and when that is exhausted, then the spiral begins. One way to avoid this issue is to pre-book wherever possible since this may mean that you’re able to skip the queues and head straight inside. It’s a small thing you can do while you’re still at home that might just make a huge difference to your overall pleasure during your trip.
Pick a Highlight
The plan, of course, is to have fun throughout your trip. But, from experience, we’ve learned that it’s always a good idea to have a planned “highlight” of the trip. This will serve as the anchor for the trip and also ensure that the trip lives long in the memory. What that highlight is will depend on where you’re going. If you’re taking a trip to Disney World, then the highlight could be securing the best view for fireworks, which, although they take place every night, are truly magical. If you’re visiting a city, then the highlight could be a show (such as a theatre production or magic show) or having dinner at the best restaurant in town that serves your favorite dish. The details in the planning make the experience all the richer.
A Little Research
Sometimes the idea of a place differs from the reality of a place. That being said, it can be worthwhile to conduct a little bit of research before you go, especially if you’re traveling to an international destination. Though some destinations are painted as being other-worldly and magical, it’s worth remembering that everywhere has a less than beautiful side.
If you conduct a bit of research before you leave, you’ll learn how to help yourself and family stay safe. For example, you could look up where the nearest hospitals are. Or, if you’re traveling internationally, what you need to do to ensure that you have access healthcare services while you’re there. It varies by country and locale, know before you go.
A family vacation should be a lot of fun. But for that to happen, everyone needs to be on the same page with a game plan and notes, if possible. If there’s no communication, then confusion and other issues will become more likely. It becomes a crazy spiral that is hard to course correct from.
Of course, communication is handy in all areas of the family dynamic! But especially when you’re on the road, and especially with children. If they know what you’re planning to do, and how long it’ll take, they’ll be less likely to cause headaches!
The best way to handle issues is to prevent them from happening in the first place. One way you can do this is by thinking ahead about all the things that could become issues while you’re away and enjoying the time with your family. If you can do that, and think about what might derail your fun, then you can take steps to reduce the likelihood of them happening. You can’t always prevent problems, but if you know what they might be, then you’ll be in a better position to take them in stride.
Ultimately, Go With the Flow
Finally, remember to go with the flow. It’s not feasible to think that everything will go right from the first second of your trip to the last. When you’re moving with so many people in a new area, it’s always possible that something can and will derail the fun… slightly. However, unless it’s a serious problem that needs addressing, it’ll be better to find your rhythm and just keep it moving. If you get annoyed at every small inconvenience or plan detour, then you’ll just make things miserable for yourself and everyone else, because a bad attitude is contagious!
Family vacations are one of the most joyous experiences we can have with our tribe. Hopefully our tips above will help you and yours be well on your way to having a terrific time.