One of my duties as the mom of a family of four is I plan all of our vacations. The upside to this is that I am able to evaluate everything on our itinerary, the downside being that if and when something isn’t enjoyed by other members of the family, the blame falls on yours truly. Having planned many vacations with my kids now entering their teen years, here are a few tips to make your trip as good as it can get.
Choosing a Vacation Destination
If you are still up in the air about where to go, consider the goal of the trip. If you want to just kick back and relax together, a beach vacation may fit the bill. However if you want to be exposed to new things, a city full of museums and culture would likely be a better match. Also take a look at your budget and the timing – you are going to find better deals if you are able to take advantage of off-season rates. For example, before our kids were in school, we would take our summer beach vacation the last week in August, when it is still warm but most families aren’t able to travel due to the beginning of the school year.
For years, going on vacation meant a cramped hotel room, with everyone stepping over each other to get to the one bathroom. Fortunately there are other options these days that allow you a bit more room. If you are traveling to a popular vacation destination, there are like companies that exclusively rent our houses or condos for vacationers. Just do an online search with the name of destination and the words “vacation rentals” and you should come up with a list of companies.
If you are traveling to a city, consider staying in a suburb of that city where you will not only find a better rate on rooms, but also enjoy free parking. Many hotels offer suites for families, and with the lower suburban rates, you may be able to get two connecting rooms. Look for hotels for with free breakfast as well. Not only does it save money, but you won’t waste time each morning finding a place to eat before you begin your day.
Personally I can never get over the site of a Cracker Barrel with a parking lot full of cars at a fabulous vacation destination. Why would anyone choose to eat a national chain restaurant when they travel away from home and there are so many unique local restaurants to try?
It can be daunting choosing a place to eat, and activities to enjoy, when you are out of your comfort zone and don’t know one place from another. That is why it pays outrageous dividends if you take the time to research and plan your days before your travel. There are so many fantastic resources online full of reviews and ratings of restaurants and things to do in any location – two of my personal favorites are TripAdvisor and Fodors. Check them out before you go, compare your options, and create an itinerary. Even if you are the spontaneous type, it doesn’t hurt to have a rough idea of what you are going to do along some highly recommended places to eat.
The more time and effort you put into planning your vacation before you embark, the better prepared you will be. Planning cannot completely eliminate the possibility of unforeseen disappointments in your travels, but it will significantly increase the likelihood of smooth sailing.