Chevy Chase taught us that family vacations can truly go to one extreme or the other: it might be a nightmare-filled time that makes you wish you never even left the house, or it can be a time in which you and your family bond and create memories that will last for a whole lifetime. The difference between the two extremes often boils down to something quite simple: proper planning!
Why Planning Matters
Maybe you’re thinking, “What about the thrill of spontaneity and the unexpected little gems in life?” You raise a good point, but in order to get to those little gems, the moments that you are going to treasure forever, you and your family have to be relaxed and ready for fun. When everybody knows that they are in a “fun allowed” zone where the regular daily concerns like work and school are out of the way, it’s easy to relax and really embrace family fun time. However, when you go on a vacation where you have to constantly worry about work, school or responsibilities at home, it could not just interfere with enjoyment, but could actually put a complete stop to it. Planning really does matter, and it doesn’t have to be too difficult either.
Coordination is Key
Coordination is vitally important, and it can be made much easier by starting the process of planning at least a few months ahead of time. Your job and your spouse’s job may have different requirements for taking time off, but regardless of the specifics, you can both do two important things to coordinate for the vacation: First, decide on the dates for the vacation, and second, ask for the time off. More jobs are incorporating employee portals that allow you to request the time off online, which makes it a bit easer to manage. If your job allows you to apply for that time off a month or more in advance, do so — in fact, both you and your spouse should request the time off as far in advance as possible. Even if one or both of you is self-employed, you’ll still need to start planning for the vacation dates to be “blocked out” as soon as possible.
Watch School and Activity Schedules
Schedule coordination with your spouse may actually be easier than planning ahead for the kids. Children today are often involved in not just typical school activities, but also in numerous after-school activities as well. Even if you plan to travel when school is out of session, don’t forget to get a printed schedule for each of your child’s activities so you can look for gap time that would be good time a vacation. In some cases, it might be simply impossible to avoid missing an activity or two, and if this is the case, just make sure that you have a chat with the adult in charge of the program or activity so they’ll know not to expect your child to be there during that time.
Plan a Day of Doing Nothing
A day with nothing on the agenda is a great time to let family fun really bloom! Want to have breakfast in bed? Maybe the kids want to lounge around and play games as a family, or perhaps an impromptu trip to a mini golf course sounds fun. This “no rules” day is a great way to allow for unplanned fun, without throwing all the plans out the window.
Planning Ahead With Everyone
Follow the simple planning tips we’ve discussed here, and make the whole family a part of the planning fun. Let the kids throw out some ideas for the vacation to make for some lively family fun time leading up to the vacation itself. Planning your vacation is not only smart — it can be fun too!
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