How to Get the Most out of Your Family Vacation

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Preparing for a family vacation with the kids can feel like a real job, what with all the planning you have to do to make it happen, and all the excitement in the household in anticipation of your get-away from work and school. It can be a stressful period, and many decisions must be made to make sure everybody is happy during the trip. That includes making travel plans, reserving accommodations, and most importantly, choosing a destination everyone will agree on (and yes, that can even include your cat or dog!). Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your family vacation.

Pre-Planning

This may seem obvious, but it is important to take care of your finances and pay any due bills before the trip. You don’t want to miss a due date while you’re having fun, only to come home and find an important service has been turned off.  Also, decide on a fixed (or flexible) budget for your vacation so that you won’t have to max out your credit cards, and do your best to stick to it. Finally, make sure that there are plenty of activities for you and your kids to enjoy at your chosen destination. This is where a good calendar and to-do-list come in handy.

Location, Location, Location!

The first step is deciding how far from home you want to travel. If you want to visit a new country, airline ticket prices become a primary consideration and may affect your overall travel/holiday budget, especially depending on the season. Check online for any current travel deals and packages or family discounts well before your expected departure date so you can save big and make room to enjoy some extra luxuries. Search for airline discount codes, as a good one can save you a big chunk of money. There are also great deals that include flight/hotel discounts for families or groups.

Planning at least a month ahead of your trip is always a good idea so that any money you save on flights can benefit you and the whole family in countries where the cost of living is lower. For example, in Italy, you can rent an apartment or vacation home directly from the locals at budget-friendly prices rather than staying in an expensive, touristy hotel.

If you choose to travel closer to home, the planning is a bit easier. You can choose your destination based on the length of your vacation, how much you want to spend on gas and the cost of accomodations.

Finding the Right Attractions

If you stay in the U.S., traveling cross-country is one of the coolest experiences, and there are plenty of open spaces to visit. From the Grand Canyon to the Red Woods of the San Francisco Bay Area and the many nature and adventure parks, you will find there is plenty to do for both parents and kids. Once you have chosen your destination, the next step is figuring out which places you want to visit and what activities there are to do. This is where some great online resources like Musement come in. They will help you discover the best spots, including hidden gems not frequented by the usual tourist crowds, as well as provide you with a great choice of local attractions and tours. Their filters will also help you find activities suitable for the whole family, so that mom and dad can have fun too. There are also many free activities available, so you really don’t need to break the bank to have a good time.

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

Now that you know where you’re going, the next question is what to pack for your vacation. If you’re a parent, you already know what to do: Start with the kids. Figure out how many pairs of underwear, swimsuits, and clothes they’ll need. And while packing their favorite toy is a must, the entire toy box can stay at home. Making a list first will help avoid panic packing. You can find plenty of tips and ideas on packing online. Check if there are laundry services available at the hotel, or a washer and dryer if you’re staying in a home or apartment, and take a look at the weather forecast so you can be sure to dress comfortably.

Trains, Planes & Automobiles

If you’re planning to rent a car, think about what type of vehicle will best suit your trip. If you’re flying to another state and you’ll only need a car for occasional trips from point A to point B, any vehicle with enough seating for the whole family will do. If you’re taking a road trip or need to do a lot of driving when you reach your destination, comfort is essential. A good, sturdy but comfy SUV or minivan would be a better choice. Remember that kids — especially young children — need to be entertained while traveling, and a great way is to fill their time with books, toys, gadgets and game apps. This is true whether you are traveling by car, plane, or train. Everyone will have more fun if you don’t have to constantly listen to the kids complaining about being bored.

The Most Important Tip

Have fun! This is supposed to be a vacation — not a problem that causes more stress. Don’t panic if plans don’t go exactly as you’d hoped. Just enjoy the time with your family and create memories that will last a lifetime.

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