Guide to Surviving Family Vacations
It’s common to spend weeks or even months planning the perfect family vacation, save throughout the year to be able to afford it, and then for everyone to develop incredibly high expectations for the experience.
The reality, however, is that traveling is often stressful on everyone. When vacationing, even the most closely knit families get on each other’s nerves, have different vacation agendas and have unique likes and dislikes.
Knowing this, it’s much easier to plan a family getaway that everyone will appreciate and enjoy, especially if you take steps to overcome the following four common problems:
1. Vacationers Are Not Sardines: Don’t Pack Yourself in Too Tight!
Families often try to cut corners in order to save money. Thinking that a family of four (two adults and two kids or teens, for example) can spend a week or even a weekend packed into a single hotel room or cruise ship cabin, is simply asking for trouble.
Yes, you can request a hotel room or cruise ship cabin with two queen size beds and an extra cot. However, by the time everyone is settled in the room with their luggage, there will probably be no room to spare. And, with one bathroom, one television for multiple people and no privacy, tension will probably start to run high very quickly.
For about the same price as a basic room at a three-star hotel, many vacation destinations have condo or apartment-like accommodations available that include two or more spacious bedrooms, multiple bathrooms, a living room, a full kitchen, a dining area and, in some cases, in-room laundry facilities.
Marriott Vacation Club, for example, maintains more than 50 timeshare properties around the world. Non-timeshare owners, however, can stay at these properties, just as they would a hotel, pending availability.
Timeshare properties offer spacious and affordable accommodations within a resort-like setting—a wonderful alternative to traditional tiny hotel rooms. Plus, with the kitchen, families can prepare their own breakfasts and lunches as opposed to dining out, thus saving a fortune. With in-room laundry facilities, a family can pack less and save on airline checked luggage fees.
An alternative to timeshare properties are rental homes or condos, available from companies like All-Star Vacation Homes in Orlando, for example, which offers more than 250 two to seven bedroom condo-style apartments and homes that are within five miles from popular theme parks and attractions.
2. Allow Everyone To Help Plan The Vacation
The easiest way to ensure everyone will enjoy their vacation is to allow everyone, including the kids, to participate in itinerary planning right from the start. Give everyone a say and make sure that everyone will have the opportunity to enjoy one or two activities per day that they desire, while knowing that at other times, compromises will have to be made to accommodate others.
3. Plan Carefully, But Allow For Spontaneous Events
Often, the most memorable moments of a vacation aren’t planned. It’s best to schedule your itinerary by breaking up each day into chunks—morning, afternoon, evening and nighttime—instead of scheduling things down to the minute. Allow for the unexpected.
If you over-schedule, which is a common mistake, people will quickly get tired, cranky, bored and dehydrated, and this will ruin the experience for everyone else. Pace yourself and make sure everyone has ample time to rest. When traveling with kids, take a midday break.
4. Do Research Before You Start Packing
Determine the weather forecast for where you’re headed. Next, figure out what activities you’ll be participating in, and pinpoint exactly what type of clothing everyone will need. If you pack the right stuff, you’ll save money by not having to make last-minute purchases while you’re away.
If you’ll be spending time at a pool or beach, in addition to bathing suits, pack hats, sunscreen, sunglasses, sandals/flip flops, water shoes and other necessities which hotels and resorts typically charge a hefty premium for. At night, assume it’ll get cool (or be air conditioned within restaurants), so pack a light sweater, sweatshirt or jacket for everyone.
If people are too hot or too cold, or aren’t dressed appropriately for the activities they’ll be experiencing, it’ll lead to discomfort and could ruin a vacation.
Plan and Anticipate
Pre-planning and a bit of research will go a long way when it comes to enjoying a family vacation. Avoiding common mistakes and problems will help ensure you have the most memorable and exciting vacation possible, with the least amount of hassle, stress and inconvenience.
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