How to Enjoy a Stress-Free Family Vacation
Your family is in dire need of a getaway from the everyday routine that has become your life—from driving the kids to school to picking them up and chauffeuring them to extracurricular activities, making dinner for the picky eaters of your crew, and bedtime rituals.
I mean, life as a parent is already hectic enough as it is. So, why would you ever want to add the stress of not only planning a vacation, but also keeping everyone happy and entertained while away from home to the mix?
You might not. And, that’s okay if the very thought of doing all of that might make you cringe. That’s why I’m on the blog today—to share with you our favorite nuggets of advice on how to enjoy a stress-free family vacation.
Get ready to say hello to the relaxed travel mama (or dad!) that’s been dormant inside of you, just waiting to make an appearance!
- Allow yourself plenty of time. Time to plan—we recommend at least three to six months in advance if you can manage it. That way, you can determine an ideal length of stay, and whether or not you’ll be flying or driving. The longer you wait (especially during a popular travel time), the smaller the number of available accommodations and flights become. Also, you need to allow yourself time to get from point A to point B in prep for your travels because rushing to catch a connecting flight or train ride with kids in tow only increases everyone’s level of stress.
- Establish a budget. What’s the maximum amount of money you can invest in a family vacation? Think about transportation, accommodations, meals, attraction admission, shopping, and any upfront costs (luggage, passport renewals, etc.). This will prevent you and your family from jumping into vacation planning headfirst, only to be disappointed when you figure out you can’t quite afford to accommodate everyone’s wishes.
- Hold a family “team meeting” to brainstorm a preferred vacation spot. It’ll get everyone’s creative juices flowing and help choose a spot that can be enjoyed. After all, the more involved you get the entire family in picking the destination, the more likely you are to have a happy travel tribe.
- Find a friendly & knowledgeable travel agency. You’ll save time scouring the Internet to find the best accommodation deals. In fact, here at Tripbound, we’ve handpicked the best of the best resorts across the country, Mexico, and the Caribbean to connect you with no-strings-attached access to spacious suites. They’re a much better option for growing kids than tiny, cramped hotel rooms or private houses with “surprises” around every corner.
- Use a flight tracker to monitor the best deals. We’re all about being tech savvy while on the hunt for the perfect flight! From Google Flights to Hopper, Skyscanner, KAYAK, and Cheapflights, you can customize your search by date, airport, departure, and much more. And, set up alerts to receive any updates based on upcoming price changes or fluctuations.
- Incorporate decompression time into your travel days. You’re going to need time to get ready for your upcoming getaway, as well as ease back into things upon your return. That said, it’s smart to allow yourself a day off before your scheduled travels (hey, flying can be stressful enough!) and after. The last thing you want to do is arrive back at home the evening before you have to go back into the office.
- Get to list-making—a packing list & a must-see/do list. A packing list is a great way to stay organized and be sure you don’t leave any necessary items behind for each family member. But, my favorite list is a must-see/do list. You and your family can keep track of all the places and things you absolutely, positively cannot leave without having seen or done, which will help you create a loose plan of action for your vacation!
- Prepare any necessary documentation. Depending on the ages of your children, for domestic travel, you may need to have documentation ready to take with you. This article from USAToday.com should help. As for international travel, children—even infants—will be required to have a valid passport. So, it’s important to remember it can take months to apply for one and receive it in the mail. Make arrangements well in advance of your projected international trip, and you’ll be golden.
- Pack early, pack light. If you can get the family packed up three to four days in advance, great. A week before is even better. And, try to avoid overpacking. Only bring the essentials so you do not have to lug around heavy bags throughout the airport.
- Delete email from your phone. I know this might not be a possibility for some, but when you know you’re about to be off on vacation and your colleagues also know that, there’s no reason to monitor your email while you’re away. Go ahead and delete your account from your phone. That way, you can avoid receiving any notifications regarding what’s happening in the office, which you have little to no control over.
- Grab on-the-go snacks. We all know how bad a mid-air meltdown can be. And, sometimes the cause of one can simply be that your child is downright hungry. For a quick fix, stash on-the-go snacks in your carry-on or purse to ensure a smooth flight and good behavior. If you’re at a loss for ideas, check out this list of healthy and simply treats from Parents.com.
- Have day-of gear ready to go. To reduce stress on the morning of your vacation, place travel clothes and shoes out for each family member and have the kids pack their “travel bag” the day before, too. Everything will be ready to grab and go so you can all get out the front door in time!
- Set realistic expectations from the get-go. From your expectations of your kids’ behavior to expectations of family bonding, and even of activities or downtime, just be sure you set the bar at a realistic level.
- Break free from everyday routines. The whole purpose of your vacation is to unwind. While it may be tempting to stick to the same old same old when it comes to sleep schedules, allow the kids a chance to enjoy one or two later-than-usual nights for extra after-dinner family fun. And, if you happen to oversleep in the morning, don’t sweat it. Take it slow and go at your own preferred pace.
- Weave in time for stress-busting naps. Frequently, family vacations and sleep don’t mesh together. Like, at all. And, you know what that means? Overtired, whiny kids putting a damper on what was supposed to be a glorious, stress-free escape from reality. Therefore, be sure to weave in time for naps in between all the fun and exploration.
- Make plans without the kids. As tough as it is, try to get away for some adult time during your vacation! Get the kids involved in kid-friendly activities at the resort for the day, and sneak off for a glass of wine or dinner for two. Or, take the kids to the pool while the two of you relax under the cabanas.
- Limit screen time. Make it easy for everyone to be present and in the moment. Tell your family and friends you’ll share photos when you return, and limit kids’ electronics (think iPads, etc.!) to only long flights or car rides. If you find they get antsy during vacation, encourage them to write or draw in their very own travel journal.
- Grab a bite to eat before any planned adventures. Imagine heading off to the Disney parks for the day without having had a single thing to eat beforehand. You’re probably bound to get hangry. And, so are your mini-mes. Be sure to grab a bite to eat before you embark on a planned adventure to keep any potential crankiness at bay.
- Hit up the spa. If there’s one on-site at the resort you’re staying at, take full advantage of it! A nice 60-minute massage or facial is just the thing to make sure your stress levels stay low.
- Keep your sense of adventure. Go with the flow and avoid overextending your vacation schedule. I know you might want to plan everything out, but allow room for spontaneous adventure—sometimes that’s the best kind!
- Remember why you took a vacation in the first place. You probably were in need of some serious R&R and fresh family memories. Yes, there might be a stressful experience or two along the way. It’s bound to happen. But, when you keep the reason for your travels at the forefront of your mind, it’ll be easier to kick your feet up and enjoy the ride.
- Reminisce during your first meal back at home. It’s tough returning from a dreamy getaway, and you’re bound to experience some post-vacation blues. But, the perfect remedy is to have each member of the family reflect on their favorite memory from vacation during your first meal back at home. Doing this is bound to make each member of your travel tribe smile wide!
- Ease back into everyday life. Slowly begin thinking about work at the end of your vacation. For example, if you have a long car ride (if you’re the passenger!) or flight back home, use that time to add that work email account back onto your phone and catch up on things that will need your attention.
- Plan out your family’s week. You still might be experiencing a bit of vacation brain, which is why it’s a good idea to write out your family’s week—either on a calendar or whiteboard that hangs on the walls of your family’s hub of info. Trust me, forgetting that scheduled appointment or after-school activity is a lot easier than you think after having gotten used to living in paradise!
- Go to bed early. Catch up on sleep to grab hold of that extra necessary boost of energy. Before you know it, you’ll be back in the game of rocking the parenting hustle and bustle once again!
Well, there you have it. The tips you need to actually make a stress-free family vacation possible! Now, go ahead and use those vacation days you’ve collected and get to making unforgettable memories with your travel tribe!
If you want to take the stress of booking and researching a vacation off your plate—scouring the Internet for many hours trying to find the best resort deal—call your travel BFFs here at Tripbound today at 1-888-816-5214. We’ll get you an affordable, relaxing family trip on the books, centering around a spacious sweet, suite stay everyone will enjoy.
Do you have a favorite tip when it comes to enjoying a stress-free vacation? Share it with us in the comments section below!