Summer is fast approaching and it's time to plan your next family vacation. Although family vacations can be a little frustrating at times, they’re the source of many comical and pleasant memories. Whether you plan to go to the beach, the mountains, or even the big city, you can take a memorable family vacation that’s low-stress and fun for everyone.
Keep these tips in mind to reduce stress on your next family vacation:
1. Plan ahead. Planning is a very important part of any vacation. Take into account the individual needs of your kids and arm yourself with whatever is necessary to take care of them while on vacation.
For example, if your four-year-old takes naps, bring along the stuffed animal they sleep with at home as their “comfort” item. For your teen, ensure they have their favorite hand-held electronic device to pass the travel time.
2. Set up a flexible schedule for each vacation day. When you have a day-to-day plan, kids can look forward to things they want to do. Plan a special kid activity for each day.
Work in an hour or so of swimming in the hotel’s pool each day or going to play miniature golf. Exercise keeps stress levels low and expends excess energy, especially for kids. Think of play time as de-compression time for kids.
To see some sights, consider taking a bus tour. Everyone sits down, which relieves aching feet from walking, while still exploring the new surroundings. Also, every third or fourth day, plan an easy day where you sleep late, hang out at the hotel, or take short walks around the area. Plan some low-stress days.
3. Expect the unexpected. It’s a positive experience for kids to learn that, sometimes, even the best planning is affected by weather, mistakes made by the hotel, and other events out of your control. Talk to your kids in advance about these unplanned possibilities.
4. Delegate responsibilities to each child. Maybe your twelve-year-old can be assigned to keep the eight-year-old occupied while at the airport. Or your teen can be in charge of watching over Mom and Dad’s luggage when they go to the restroom or magazine shop before take-off.
5. Before travelling, brainstorm with your kids about how to solve potential challenges. Ask ten-year-old Johnnie what he can do to ensure his fourteen-year-old sister, Corrina, gets along well with him. Talk to Corrina about what she might do to make Johnnie happy.
Tell your kids that you’re counting on them to make the trip as enjoyable as possible.
6. Change seating arrangements during travel. Whether you’re flying, taking a train, or traveling by car, switch up the seating every half-day or so. Sit in the back seat with your five-year-old daughter while your eleven-year-old son sits in the front with Dad until lunch.
Then, change seats after lunch. Consistent seat-changing can freshen up conversations and ease tensions between the kids.
7. Take surprise items. For each child, pack new, unseen items to thrill and distract them from the monotony of travel. Trinkets like sticker books for younger kids, word puzzles for eight- to twelve-year-olds, and magazines for teens help time pass.
A book about a child’s favorite subjects or even a new game for their hand-held device can be a godsend when stress starts to trickle in.
Apply these strategies on your next family vacation. Everyone will be happier and your trip will be virtually stress-free. Start planning a family get-away now.