There’s no secret, perfect way to do a family vacation. It all comes down to finding locations and activities that will ensure the whole clan can keep happy and satisfied (always easier said than done.) But with any vacation situation, there are going to be hurdles. There are going to be disagreements and indecisiveness and oh yes even the occasional tantrum. The best strategy you can take is to be prepared for as many of these potential hurdles as you possibly can.
With any family vacation, usually, it’s the stress of traveling which provides the most frustration. The limited number of resources, confinement for long periods, motion sickness; these can all contribute to a frustrating first leg of your adventure. A good tactic is to bring along your essential travel supplies (tissues, snacks, water, sunglasses, etc.) in a carry-on bag or backpack that is easily accessible at all times. This way appetites can be quickly sated, needs quickly met, and tensions defeated without having to mine through the layers of luggage in the back seat for that one particular item you forgot to keep with you.
If there’s a baby along for the ride, be sure to bring along bibs, bottles, pacifiers, formula, and diapers. If you’re traveling by others such as in an airplane or train, out of courtesy, it’s best to bring along toys which won’t make too much noise and save the rattles and talking dolls for the hotel room.
Easily the most common mistake in packing for a family vacation: not enough layers. It’s far too easy to assume that a tropical destination is always going to be hot and typically colder destinations are always going to be freezing. The key rule of thumb here is to be prepared for anything. Even the tropics get their cold bouts from time to time, and the last thing you want is to have a suitcase full of sleeveless tops and above the knee bottoms when it’s below 50 outside the room. You’ll end up limiting the number of activities you can do during your stay or end up spending way too much at the local clothes retailer to compensate for your lack of planning. Windbreakers and an extra pair of pants won’t take up much extra room, and everyone will be that much more relieved if the weather suddenly takes a turn for the worse.
The opposite can also be true. Even if your destination is forecasting cold, always keep something light and breezy just in case the sunshine decides to be extra generous for whatever reason.
And Don’t Forget…
o Extra underwear
o Extra pair of eyeglasses and contacts
o Extra socks
o Sandals (for pools or beaches)
o Games for the kids (a deck of cards or a dice game always packs away nicely)
Preparing for a trip is a relatively easy procedure, but without doing so is the equivalent of going off-roading in a sedan with no shock absorbers. Keep a list, check it twice. Your family will thank you for it.