A vacation can be the perfect time to bond with your family and strengthen your relationships, but it can also be a major source of stress. If you take the time to plan well in advance, you can ensure the experience is as pleasant as possible. In the guide below, we’ll show you how to plan a stress-free family vacation that any family counselor would approve of. Let’s get started!
Plan a Vacation You Can Truly Afford
You don’t have to stay in a top-of-the-line hotel to have a great time. You don’t have to fly first class, and you don’t have to stay for two weeks straight. Plan a family vacation that fits your current means. If you can only afford a weekend in a nearby city, do that. If you can afford a week vacation in another state, do that. Whatever you do, don’t put yourself in extreme debt to pay for the vacation. That will only lead to unnecessary stress in the long run.
Create a Packing List for Every Family Member
Don’t wait until the last minute to pack for vacation. Start by writing out a detailed packing list for every family member. Each person’s needs may be slightly different. The list should include:
- Enough clothing for the trip, plus a couple extra outfits for safe measure
- Socks, underwear, shirts, bottoms, jackets, etc. – Write down the number of each that you need
- Daily and emergency medication
- Phone and tablet chargers
- Makeup, haircare products, beard brushes, etc.
- Specialty items, such as a stuffed toy, diapers, contact solution, etc.
Once you have a list for each person, pack the bags a couple days in advance. You may need to wait until the morning that you leave to pack certain items, like your phone charger or toothbrush. If you have the majority of the bags packed though, you won’t be stressed about getting everything together.
Pack Mix-and-Match Clothing Items
Less is more when it comes to vacation packing. Each family member should bring sets of clothes that work well with each other. Solid color tops, neutral bottoms and simple accessories are key. If each person can bring two sets of shoes (one casual, one dressy), that will save room in the suitcases. A mix-and-match wardrobe will also take the thought out of outfit planning while on vacation so you can focus on the fun.
Leave Room in Your Suitcases
Don’t pack your suitcases to their fullest. Leave some extra room in each. Clothing never fits in a suitcase the same after it has been unpacked. Plus, you may buy souvenirs on vacation that you will need room to store. If you feel like your suitcases are overflowing, you may want to re-evaluate what you’re bringing with you.
Avoid Last Year’s Mistakes
If you had a not-so-successful family vacation last year, think back on your biggest mistakes. Did you spend too much money? Did you cram too many activities in one trip? Did you forget to pack something you really needed? Did your children fight for your attention? Consider issues you have experienced in the past, and find preventative ways to avoid them this vacation.
Don’t Overplan Your Vacation Days
It’s good to have an itinerary while on vacation, but you shouldn’t have every day planned out. Leave some time for relaxation and freeform fun. If you have every minute of the day scheduled, you may get stressed about sticking to the plan. Let loose and trust that the days will come together on their own. This will let you truly enjoy the special moments you have with your family, and the whole vacation will go better as a result.