Family vacations are meant to be a relaxing, fun way for you to spend time with your family doing something new or exciting.
As a parent, you know it can be challenging to plan trips, especially if you have to work around employment and school schedules.
The following tips will help you plan your family vacation with less fuss and more emphasis on fun.
1. Be prepared for unexpected weather
Depending on where your road trip is taking you, it’s possible that you may experience unexpected weather conditions like heavy rain, sleet, high winds, and even snow. You can prepare for this weather by making sure your car is equipped to drive safely in these conditions. If you don’t have snow tires, carry a set of chains in the trunk. You may not need to use them, but in many states, you are required to carry chains in your car during certain times of the year.
Another important step in being prepared for unexpected weather is to pack appropriate clothing for everyone in your family. You don’t have to pack their whole closet, but make sure everyone has a waterproof jacket, gloves, a hat, waterproof shoes, and a change of warm clothes that doesn’t get used unless necessary.
2. Assign a co-pilot
Distracted driving causes 1 in 5 crashes. And if you’ve got small children in the car, you know how distracting it can be when they fight. A good solution to mitigate your distractions is to assign a co-pilot for your road trip.
Your co-pilot can handle GPS navigation, incoming phone calls, and be a buffer between fighting toddlers (or teenagers). It’s also a good idea to have a second pair of eyes on the road when you’re traveling in unfamiliar territory so you don’t miss your exits.
3. Plan breaks and down time
Although family vacations are fun, everyone needs a break—even your little ones. The last thing you want is to be standing in line at a museum you’ve waited years to visit while your four-year-old throws a tantrum because they haven’t had enough downtime.
4. Set a budget – and stick to it
Setting a budget is the best way to keep track of your expenses and not overspend. Once you’ve reached your budget, you can choose to spend more if you want to. Setting a budget ahead of time allows you to be aware of when you’re approaching your pre-determined limit so there won’t be any surprises. Without a budget, you risk spending money you’ve allocated for other purposes, like rent or food.
You can even get your kids involved in helping set their portion of the family vacation budget. It may sound strange at first, but having your kids help with budgeting can teach them a valuable lesson. And, as one single parent experienced, it encouraged teamwork among her three boys who normally didn’t get along for more than three minutes.
5. Be safe and prepared
Being safe and prepared is important, especially when you’re traveling long distances in unfamiliar territory. Whether you’re renting a car or driving your own, make sure you have roadside assistance in case you need help.
You’ll also benefit by keeping the following items in the car:
A heavy-duty flashlight Jumper cables Sturdy gloves Flares A magnetic strobe light Extra food and a gallon of water Extra oil and other fluids
Plan something of interest to everyone
Planning a family vacation with activities that interest everyone all the time may not be possible. However, if you make it a point to plan at least one activity each person is excited about, they’ll be more willing to “sit through” the other activities without fussing too much.
If you have kids who are older, you may feel comfortable allowing them to stay in the hotel room while you go do the activities they find boring. This is also a great way to save money.
6. Have a light heart
Above all, a family vacation is meant to be fun. Have a light heart about everything from the planning to the actual trip. Don’t let yourself get frustrated or upset if things don’t go as planned. You already know things don’t always go according to plan, and if you allow yourself to go with the flow, you and your family will have a much better vacation.
Written by Natalie Bracco for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.