A Guide to Planning a Memorable Family Vacation

by Lily White
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Traveling with your family and kids is about creating memories. The travel experiences you have as a family are things that you’ll always remember. They broaden your children’s worldviews, give you a chance to connect outside of the stress of daily life, and they let you enjoy each other’s company.

Planning a memorable family vacation can be a big undertaking, though.

There are a lot of things you have to think about early on in the planning phase, so you can actually relax and enjoy yourself while you’re away.

The following are some of the things to know to plan a family vacation that you’re all going to both enjoy and remember forever.

Choose Your Destination Carefully

When you’re planning a vacation, your destination is one of the biggest decisions you have to make. You want to choose somewhere that’s family-friendly and is going to appeal to everyone in your group. For example, you might want beautiful outdoor scenery while your kids are interested in fun attractions.

If you aren’t sure where to start as far as a destination, have everyone share their suggestions and input.

If you can’t decide, then you can put everyone’s idea into a hat and pick one.

Everyone has their own preferences as far as destinations.

Some people like the beach and others like the lake or mountains. Some families might prefer history and architecture, while others like live entertainment and theater.

There are also families that like destinations where they can go year after year, but other travelers enjoy something completely new and unfamiliar every time they travel.

Everyone and every family is unique, so try to think first and foremost about what will be not only enjoyable but also meaningful for your family.

A logistical consideration when picking a destination is whether you’re going to fly or drive. There are pros and cons to both.

When you drive, you have more control over the experience, you can go at your own pace, and it’s cheaper.

When you fly, you get there faster so you can spend more time doing things you enjoy.

Create a Budget

When you travel, you want to set a budget before you book anything.

You might also need time to save, and you can create a separate account that’s just for travel expenses.

When you set a budget, it gives you a planning framework to work within. Setting a budget can also help you avoid stress. You know what you’re going to be spending, and you’re planning for contingencies so that when you’re actually away, you can be in the moment rather than thinking about every penny.

The more you can book ahead of time and pay for, the better because, again, this takes some of the financial concerns off your mind when you’re actually traveling.

Your budget will determine your destination in a lot of ways, but no matter where you decide to go, there are often ways you can stay within your spending limits.

Choose Your Dates

When you’re traveling with kids, you’re more restricted as far as when you can travel. This can get tricky because the times that your kids have off school are often the most expensive peak travel times.

If you’re going to travel in the summer, try to opt for places where that will be low-season. Places like Florida and the Caribbean are good examples—their peak season is in the winter, often over the holidays.

Low and shoulder seasons mean you’ll get more bang for your buck, and there will also be fewer crowds.

Remember, if you are traveling somewhere off-peak, the weather might not be perfect, but you can have a less stressful trip when you aren’t clamoring for reservations, all of which are at sky-high rates.

If you are going to schedule a trip when your kids are in school, talk to the teacher well in advance to make sure it won’t conflict with any major testing.

Selecting Your Accommodations

Choosing where you stay is pivotal for a good family vacation.

A family-friendly trip should include accommodations with a full kitchen ideally. When you have a full kitchen, you can save money by preparing some of your own meals and snacks. If you don’t get a place with a full kitchen, at a minimum, look for something with a small refrigerator and microwave, as well as a coffee maker.

You can save hundreds of dollars on your trip just by having these small amenities.

If anyone gets hungry and it’s early in the morning or late at night, you don’t have to worry about running around to find a snack. Plus, if you have a picky eater in your group, they’ll have options in your hotel room.

Booking a place with separate bedrooms is always ideal when it’s within your budget because everyone will have their own space for quiet time.

If your kids are older, you might opt for a hotel with adjoining rooms, so you have more privacy.

Think about the location of your accommodations. Is it within walking distance to the attractions and things you most want to see and do? If not, will you rent a car or will you have your own? What about parking? Many hotels require that you pay to park, and then you may also have to pay when you arrive at attractions, which could mean taking a cab or rideshare ends up being less expensive.

Be Flexible

When you’re planning a trip for your entire family that will be memorable and enjoyable, you do want to have a loose plan going into it. This way, you at least have an idea of your must-sees and dos, so you don’t feel like you’re missing anything.

At the same time, the key to a good vacation is being flexible. When you’re traveling with kids, there are going to be things that inevitably don’t go according to plan, and that’s okay. Don’t let yourself get too stressed out, to the point that you’re not enjoying the moment you’re in.


By Susan Melony

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