So, you want to plan your first family vacation. And if you’ve clicked on this article, the pressure might just be getting to you.
Hey, that’s easy to understand: the pressure of planning the perfect vacation can be suffocating. You want to make sure everyone in your family has fun, has the opportunity to get souvenirs if possible, that you can all do everything you want to do, and that you also (inversely) have the opportunity to get some rest when you need it. It’s a lot to juggle, and often on a tight budget scrounged together over months of saving a little bit out of each paycheck: you only have so much money, and chances are that this trip is going to take every penny you can spare.
No vacation is going to be perfect: in that way, the title of this article is a bit of a misnomer. You’re going to have rough patches, places where the family can’t agree on what to do next, times where you get rained out of a planned activity, etc. But with the right amount of forethought, and by planning for these contingencies ahead of time (i.e., using a weather app to keep track of the weather in the area or coming up with a way to diffuse arguments quickly), you’ll find that you can indeed plan a memorable vacation where each member of your family has fun, planning a perfect balance of activities and times for relaxation.
Are you ready to learn how? Read on, ye poor stressed traveler, and we’ll see if we can equip you with the knowledge you need to make this vacation the carefree exercise in getting away that you so desperately need.
Budget, Budget, Budget
If you’re in the planning stage of your vacation, you are either about to start saving money for a vacation that’s months away, or you’ve accrued a sizable chunk of change, and you’re looking to parse out how you’re going to spend it. For either scenario, planning a budget is going to play a significant role in not only how you enjoy your vacation but also where you choose to vacation.
If you’re only starting to save for your vacation, one of the first things you’ll want to do is get a quoted price on plane tickets and hotel packages for the duration of your stay. These are what you call non-negotiable expenses: though you can choose cheaper flights or hotels, you are bound to spend a significant amount of money on both. Then you’ll want to look up possible vacation destinations in the area, activities that you and your family can do together: after discussing the options with them, set aside money for each activity you and your family have definitely decided you’re going to do, and try and set aside extra money in case when you get there, you all decide to do something additional. You should also calculate the average cost of meals per day for your family, and then if possible put that aside.
When you’re done, you should plan to have a certain amount of money set aside for out-of-budget costs, just in case. A good planner always plans for the unexpected: roadside emergencies, forced, rapid changes of plan, and discretionary spending money for things like souvenirs or extra treats. By setting this money aside, you’ll feel more relaxed when spending large amounts of money, not concerned about breaking the bank or running over budget: you’ve already planned for that.
You’ll want to pack in accordance with the region you’re visiting, keeping in mind each of your family’s needs: pack your kids’ allergy medicine, spare changes of clothes, climate-appropriate clothing (swim trunks or winter coats), and sources of entertainment like game systems or tablets for the plane trip over. Common sense on your part will dictate what you bring and what gets left behind, though you may want to pack some additional things in case of emergency, like a first-aid kit.
The real key to a great vacation, however, is to plan opportunities for family downtime. You don’t have to take up every moment of your vacation doing something: plan for times when you and your family can relax together in a new environment, such as a park or restaurant, and don’t be afraid to retreat to the hotel for a few hours if your family needs it. Follow these tips, and you’ll find that everyone returns from the vacation happy and relaxed, having accomplished something they’ll remember forever.