Keys to a Peaceful Family Vacation
Family vacations are great for several reasons. The number reason though, is that they help us form bonds and strengthen relationships with our loved ones like few things can. In a world where so many things demand our attention, a time and place dedicated to strengthening those bonds are priceless and necessary. As parents, we must collect our children. Vacations give us the ability to reassume our roles as the mentors and nurturers of our kids. They allow us to get into our children’s spaces in a friendly way. As love partners, we must also collect the attention of our lovers. Vacations allow us to rekindle the love we feel for our partner away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Vacations allow us to make our families a priority.
But peaceful vacations don’t just happen. They must be planned, as logistics and emotions can play a big part in their success or failure. Four years ago, my family went to the Dominican Republic. When we arrived at the second location on our itinerary, our hotel had lost our reservation and my husband, a strict organizer, got so distraught that it took him almost six hours to compose himself before relaxing enough to enjoy the rest of the trip. When things go wrong, our attitudes suffer, and as a result, our vacation can turn to chaos.
Here are a few tips to keep your vacation stress-free and peaceful.
The first rule for a peaceful family vacation is to plan ahead. If possible, decide where you are going and pay for things ahead of time. One year we went to the UP in Michigan, I paid for our hotel accommodations, plane tickets and car rentals beforehand. I also planned all of our hiking trips way ahead of time. It was great not to have to worry about upcoming credit card bills, which can easily ruin one’s vacation. Since nature is so pure in that part of the U.S., it was a relief to be able to choose activities that the whole family could enjoy without having to spend a fortune.
Secondly, you must be willing to make sacrifices. You need to enjoy your time together and shut up about the inconveniences or the things that may scare you or bother you. I hate water activities because the ocean makes me nauseous. But while on an extended family vacation, I went kayaking with my sister despite my reservations, and enjoyed the experience even though my first instinct was to stay on the shore under an umbrella. I may or may not have had to throw up the minute we got back to the beach, but I will never forget the experience, and how much closer and connected I felt to my sibling.
Save on Food
Third, if you are not traveling on an RV of sorts, try to book a place that has a kitchen. Most children need to eat three meals a day, and trying to coordinate all that eating and paying for it can be highly stressful. But if you can eat in at least two simple meals and leave the eating out for only one time a day, you will not only save money but also reduce the amount of stress eating out can cause.
Take Time to Relax
Lastly, if you want a peaceful vacation, don’t overbook your schedule. Doing something every second of the day is not good for the introverts in the group or the very young ones. Plan some downtime, where everyone can just relax, read, play cards or nap. That downtime will recharge you to keep going and minimize the complaints of crabby children and whiny adults.
It’s highly unlikely that you will travel as a family and not get on each other’s nerves at least once. But many of our annoyances are the result of poor planning. Learn ways to take steps beforehand to minimize those annoyances, and you will create precious memories that your family won’t soon forget, but even more importantly, you will strengthen the family bonds, and that’s priceless.
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Eva Fleming is an expert educator and curriculum developer. She has over 25 years of teaching experience and has taught all age groups including, preschool, elementary, middle and high school children and adults. When she’s not teaching, she’s cooking something delicious or driving her children around.