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10 Tips for Planning a Stress Free Family Vacation

The fast pace of your job, not to mention the rest of life, has you longing for a vacation where you and your family can get away from it all and create wonderful memories together. The only problem is…the last time you retreated on a get-away as a family, you returned more exhausted than ever. Is there any way to plan a stress free family vacation where you refuse to check that usual baggage of anxiety and worry? Sure there is. Follow these tips, and you’ll be on the road to a family vacation that's smoother than those bumpy rides of past trips.

Plan together
Moms and dads sometimes hesitate to get input from their kids about what they’d like to do on vacation, but remember, polling for ideas doesn’t mean the kids are in charge of the decisions. You might find that your brood is much more interested in a lower cost, easy to plan trip  like exploring a nearby state park than they are a trip across country.   

Extra Tip: Plan a vacation that is age appropriate to avoid unrealistic expectations for behavior.

Set a budget

Before you make any decisions about your family get-away, determine your travel budget for the trip. Nothing kills the fun of a trip like getting part way through a vacation and realizing you're out of money. Nail down the larger costs like flights, a hotel and a car rental, and then set a daily budget for meals and entertainment. Check out the costs for the restaurants and shows you know will be on your agenda to determine a reasonable daily budget.

Extra Tip: Plan an extra day of vacation time to readjust to normal life once you arrive home.

Search for deals
No matter how thorough you are when you set the budget, you’re bound to run into unexpected costs on the trip. Plan for these by looking for ways to save in some areas of your budget. No one wants to feel like they’re scrimping on vacation. You won’t if you evaluate which parts of vacationing make you feel most relaxed and spend more money on those areas while looking for ways to save in other areas that aren’t as important to you.

Extra Tip: In an effort to save, don’t rule out travel insurance. The cost is worth it to ensure your trip.

Establish a routine
What’s true for kids at home is true for kids on vacation. They thrive on predictable routines. So be spontaneous with which restaurants and events you’ll check out each day, but keep bedtimes, meals and a mid-day rest all on a pretty consistent schedule. You’ll find that the routine gives you a lot more freedom from meltdowns than flying by the seat of your pants.

Extra Tip: Resist the urge to cram too many activities into your schedule. Allow for down time.

Keep it simple

Make a few key decisions about your family vacation before you go to maximize your sanity. If at all possible, opt for an all-inclusive package as opposed to a choose-as-you-go option. There are often cost conscious packages available and not having to think about how much you want to spend on every meal and activity will go a long way in upping your relaxation quotient. Invite a set of grandparents or a beloved family sitter to join you. This will allow Mom and Dad to get some extra time away together. It’s also ideal if you can plan your vacation during the off season to avoid the crowds.

Extra Tip: Leave distractions, like work and video games, at home.

Most important of all, once you set off on your family vacation, don’t sweat the small stuff. Rather, have fun with your crew as you experience new memories together!