A grand family vacation is one of the best investments that you could possibly ever make. First of all, it’s an investment whose consequences are going to stay with you year after year. Memories, especially pleasant memories with your family are completely invaluable, which means that worrying about the ROI is absurd, to begin with.
If you bring souvenirs and display photos from the vacation inside of your home, you will also make an investment in the decoration of the place and have a number of great conversation starters and stories to tell to your friends.
Most importantly, you get a couple of important lessons to teach your kids. You’ll show them just how big of a world they’re living in, as well as just how many different things are there out there for them to explore. Second, you’ll teach them that investing in experiences often trumps investments in assets or material things. The best way to teach them this is to lead by an example. You’ll also show them different cultures and put them in a scenario where they can interact with people who are completely different from what they’re used to. In other words, you’re teaching them about life itself.
When it comes to reasons why you shouldn’t go, money and time usually come to the forefront. Sure, postponing that home remodels for a couple of months or a year may be an unpleasant thought but, with all of the above-listed considered, it might just be worth it. As for the time, parents who are too busy at the moment are probably just deluding themselves if they believe that this is going to change next year or the year after that. So, no more excuses unless you want to miss out on one of the most amazing experiences of your lifetime. With that in mind and without further ado, there are several things you need to know in order to pull off the family vacation of a lifetime and do to do so this year.
Involve your family in the choice of destination
Before you even start planning or packing, you need to choose the destination and this is easier said than done. First of all, this is only going to work if your entire family gets involved in the process. Sure, there are some places that you’ve always dreamed of visiting but you need to remember that you’re not going out there alone. If you can convince your family that this is a great idea, then great. If not, you might need to search on.
Of course, there’s always the probability that some of the family members will be too young to choose an adequate destination, which is why you need to put yourself in their shoes. Think about the area that will give them an opportunity to see things that might interest them. Even more importantly, choose a place that is rich in activities that they might want to take part in. This way, you’re almost ensuring the success of the voyage before it even starts.
One last thing, the choice of destination will also determine a lot of logistical issues such as your mean of transportation, the budget for the trip and so on. Different countries have a different purchasing power parity and the simplest way for a layman to check it out is to take a look at the Big Mac Index. This is the unofficial platform for measuring the local economy and it should be a great indicator of local prices of your target destination. This is also the best way for you to plan your budget.
Set a date
The next thing you need to understand is the fact that setting a date for a family holiday takes a lot of planning, compromise and preparation. First of all, the earlier you start preparing, the more time you’ll have to execute all your plans.
Second, the choice of destination may impact a lot of things. For instance, if there’s a certain event that you want to attend at a target destination, setting the wrong date might make you miss it.
Also, keep in mind that you might need to take a leave from work, which is why planning a journey at the peak of the season might not be a good idea for those who are particularly career-oriented. One last thing, planning a trip during a summer break is usually a great idea, seeing as how your kids won’t have to be absent from their classes.
One last piece of advice you need to adhere to is the fact that different regions have different climates. For instance, even if it’s a harsh winter in your home region, this won’t mean much if you’re visiting Florida or California.
If you aim to go to a place that’s on a different hemisphere, you need to understand that when it’s winter at your current location, it’s summer at your target destination. So, do your research and pack accordingly.
Choosing a method of travel
The destination itself is just one part of the journey. Sometimes how you get there might make all the difference. For instance, going on a cruise with your family is a unique way to experience all that this trip will bring. Other than this, you can book a flight or even opt for a more luxurious version of private jet hire. The latter idea is particularly great for larger families, as well as those who aim to put an emphasis on comfort and privacy.
If the location that you aim to visit is closer by, you might even consider going on a road trip. This way, the journey becomes a lot more interesting. This also makes the journey more customizable seeing as how you choose where to stop (with a likelihood of a camping trip in the picture, as well). Still, this puts a lot of new challenges ahead of you. First of all, you need a vehicle that it road trip-worthy.
Second, you need an extensive plan for the itinerary. Even though spontaneity is always welcome, too much of it can raise the risks of a family vacation too high. Lastly, you need to come up with some entertainment, which could turn the trip itself into a fun, family-bonding activity.
Safety comes first
The first step you need to take in order to make the journey much safer for you and your family is to do the research of the target destination. It goes without saying that a family vacation needs to avoid any war-zones and areas that are known for a high level of political instability. Other than this, you need to check the reputation of the neighbourhood around your lodging. Fortunately, nowadays, there are numerous tools to help you check this out.
Keep your eyes on your kids at all times and have a serious talk with them before embarking on a voyage (provided that they’re old enough to understand). Warn them about risky patterns of behaviour and ask them to promise that they’ll behave.
From the medical standpoint, make sure that you have your kids vaccinated against illnesses that are endemic to your target destination. Also, bring your first aid kit and make sure that it’s properly stocked before you leave home.
Build up the hype
In weeks prior to the vacation, try to build up the hype a bit. Talk to your kids about the location that they’re about to visit and all the things that they’re about to see and do there. Sure, building up the hype too much might be a double-edged blade, seeing as how high expectations are the most reliable prerequisite for future disappointment.
Nonetheless, you want your kids to be excited about the journey and look forward to it but for this to work, you must do your part.
An open schedule
Previously, we’ve brushed on the topic of open schedule vs. planned itinerary several times over. The key to making a perfect family vacation lies in your ability to find a balance between the two. If you keep your schedule too loose, you might not be able to see and do all that you deem worthy of seeing and doing. On the other hand, if you plan too much, you risk turning this trip into a chore.
The simplest way to find the right measure is to separate your days on a vacation into segments. This way, you can set a couple of hours each day for things that are on the menu for the day and spend the rest of the day just enjoying the journey. This way you get to have your cake and eat it too.
Memories from a vacation
As for the family memories, you can never anticipate encountering a great souvenir but you can assign a souvenir budget for greater financial efficiency. In order to limit their spending, you should give each family member a budget of their own. Being fiscally responsible isn’t as easy when facing a foreign currency. When it comes to photographs, you need to have your phone or camera always at hand.
Sure, taking photos by a famous landmark is a must but it’s the spontaneous photos that have the greatest sentimental value. As always stories that you bring back from the journey will be the best mementos for years to come.
The last piece of advice for you to adhere to is to take notes while on the journey. This is definitely not going to be your last family vacation, so why not use it as a learning experience. All the mistakes you’ve made this time can, therefore, be avoided the next time around.
The best thing about this is the fact that your family will use this as a learning experience as well. This means that, as a group, you’ll come to enjoy each vacation more and more and, altogether, become more efficient at travelling.
Audrey Taylor was born in San Francisco, and moved to Adelaide at the age of five. Marketer researcher and social media manager on hold, full – time mommy of a cheerful two-year-old. Graduated from Queensford college, worked in a couple of marketing agencies across Australia, eager to learn more about business and share her experiences. Traveled across Europe. Her hobbies include: home decor, fashion, travel, music, old movies.