Plan for Success
Whether the kids are in grade school or graduate school, there are bound to be some bumps in the road when the family takes a vacation together. The goal is to minimize the rough spots and maximize the fun. Everybody can use a little help when it comes to parenting issues and planning a vacation is no exception.
Let everyone who’s interested, participate in the preparations. Create a checklist of items to collect in advance. For beach vacations, this can include buying suntan and sunburn lotions, bug spray, bathing suits and sunglasses. Cold weather destinations might require finding stored jackets, sweaters and gloves. Get the kids involved early in the process so that the excitement builds gradually and doesn’t erupt in tears on traveling day. If the family likes to play board games, pack a couple of their favorite ones.
Long automobile rides can be a bonding experience or a nightmare. Pack healthy snacks and bottles of water to keep everyone nourished and hydrated. Play group participation games and award prizes to the winner. Potential games include seeing who can identify license plates from the most states; who can name the most things (animals, fruit, countries) that start with a particular letter and who can name the most songs with the word “love” in the title. There is an unlimited number of possibilities. Use your creative parenting skills to keep the contests going.
Plane trips present a different challenge since quiet activities are encouraged by the rest of the passengers. Books, a deck of cards, crossword puzzles, electronic games and videos can keep everyone entertained. Try to get on-board pillows and blankets for long flights.
Continue to keep the entire family engaged once the traveling portion of the vacation is over. Bring out the board games if you brought them. They can be great fun after a day in the sun. Let each child choose a restaurant or type of cuisine for an evening meal. That will help to keep them from whining that they don’t like the food. If they are old enough, let each one pick an activity. Maybe a teenager wants to go shopping, and a younger one wants to go to a movie. Perhaps a nearby mall will accommodate both of them in one trip. If the hotel has a pool, Marco Polo can be fun for everyone.
Take lots of pictures and a few videos. Upload the best of them to a website that everybody can access. Add captions to help the family remember the day. The memories will last for years to come.
Family vacations can be a way of bringing a family together. However, it takes some planning to make it a happy experience. Let everyone participate in choosing activities. Then, sit back and reap the benefits of strong parenting. The low points will be forgotten, but the successes will warm hearts for years.