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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Tips for Keeping Everyone Happy on a Family Vacation

When I saw the title of this post that a reader sent me, I literally sighed deeply and said "Ohhh boy..." because I knew just how much of a challenge this was. We had our first trip abroad the last month of 2019 and already the first day of our vacation I realized that I knew nothing about traveling as a family, and I needed to rethink my entire plans. Here are some tips to keep in mind if you want to have your family vacation go as smoothly as possible.


One of the best ways to create memories and enjoy time as a family is to go on a vacation. Planning and anticipating the trip generates excitement, and it can be a fun way to get everyone involved. Putting together an excursion everyone will love can be a challenge, though. Family members of different ages will have particular ideas about what is considered fun. You'll need to consider their needs, too. Young children usually require a midday nap and time in the evening to settle down. Teenagers might be bored with a vacation geared toward young children. Grandparents may need to keep a slower pace, and parents may just want a little time for themselves.

With so many wants and needs in the mix, what's a family to do? Fortunately, it's not impossible to plan a trip everyone can enjoy. Keep reading for some tips on preparing a memorable vacation.

Talk About Expectations

When you announce to your family that you're planning a trip, a different idea might pop into each person's head. Grandma may picture herself reading a book in a beach chair; your school-age children might imagine a week at a theme park. It's essential to get an idea of what everyone is thinking and manage their expectations. If you're driving and don't want to spend days in the car, let your family know you're not going too far from home. If you've decided a cold-weather destination is off the table, everyone should rule out ski resorts.

No doubt you'll have to make some compromises, but talking about it ahead of time will help everyone understand the options and give them the chance to add their input.

Choose a Destination Everyone Can Enjoy

Your snow bunny might be disappointed if you've decided on a warm-weather destination, but that doesn't mean she has to spend the week being miserable. Try to find a place where each person can find something fun to do. Resorts, theme parks and cruises offer entertainment options for a variety of ages and interests. A Bermuda cruise can fit the bill, as cruise ships are known for seemingly endless diversions. From dawn to well after dusk, families can choose from activities to enjoy together, such as a theater show or dip in the pool. Kids' camp or teen clubs can offer children fun things designed for their age groups.

Look for cities or locales known for tourism. There you will find child-friendly hotels, a variety of museums, parks, aquariums and restaurants, and accessible transportation. You'll be able to design an itinerary with something for everyone.

Pack Lightly

While it's tempting to toss half of your wardrobe in your suitcase to prepare for any scenario, you won't be too happy with yourself when you're dragging your luggage around (and maybe someone else's, also). Choose mix-and-match outfits that you can layer for weather changes. If you have access to laundry facilities on your trip, you can lighten your load further with fewer outfits. If you can purchase toiletries when you arrive, you'll be able to save even more room. Keep space in your suitcase for gifts and souvenirs, too. Consider limiting each family member to one suitcase and one smaller bag. Remind older children and teens that they will be responsible for carrying their luggage — it might teach them how to pack conservatively if they know they'll be moving their own gear.

Plan Lightly, Too

If you've found a great destination with plenty of entertainment choices, it's hard to resist cramming your days with nonstop fun. However, a vacation with no breathing room can feel stressful. Plan just a few excursions per day, allowing time to eat, relax or even change your mind. Try not to schedule activities too close together, or you might find yourselves scrambling to get there on time.

Keep in mind that the unexpected can happen — children get sick, older family members decide they want to slow their pace, or everyone discovers a can't-miss event. Planning is undoubtedly important, especially for events that require reservations. However, consider avoiding too many nonrefundable endeavors so you can be flexible.

Visit the Doctor First

If you're traveling internationally, you will need to schedule a checkup a couple of months before your trip. Your doctor can help you plan for any medication and vaccinations you need. Checking in with your physician before a domestic excursion is a good idea, too. You might need to stock up on prescriptions or just get a clean bill of health before leaving home.

Planning a vacation for the entire family can be a lot of work, but it doesn't have to test your sanity. The secret to an enjoyable trip is to include a little something for everyone. Remember to pack lots of patience and flexibility, too, and you'll bring home memories to last a lifetime.

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