Top Ten Travel Planning Tips for the Perfect Family Vacation

by Lexa Pennington / Mar 28, 2012 /
Lexa Pennington's picture

Beaches? History? Cities? Outdoors? Adventure? When you're a family, it's hard to satisfy all of these travel cravings for everyone. How DO you plan a trip that can hit all of the main points for everyone? It can be done - it just needs a little finesse. If you have kids that are tweens or older, they will be happy to be involved in the planning process. They will take ownership and be proud of their efforts - and less apt to complain about the journey!

Follow these planning guidelines for a trip that pleases everyone in your family.

 

1. Sit down and Talk. Ascertain what the top three things are for each member of the family on any journey. Ask them to be honest, and realistic. You might find some correlations - horseback riding on the beach, or ziplining while studying nature.

 

2. Research Destinations! Get everyone to brainstorm places where everyone's needs can be met. Besides being good trip planning, it teaches valuable research skills. Give each person a geographic area (state, country, or continent) and see what they come up with that matches all of the criteria.

 

3. Narrow it down. Choose 2 locations and do more in-depth research. Yes, there's a beach and surfing. Is there also good food, music, art, classes, or whatever else your family loves to do?

 

4. Budget. More research - lay out your budget and give your family members more research options. Can you volunteer for part of your vacation, and get accommodations for less? Are there classes that you will want to take and have to budget for? Will you be flying on a private jet, taking the train, or driving your car? Outline your budget for the whole journey, and give each member one part to take care of.

 

airplane

 

Once the location is decided, it's time to get some concrete details in place.

 

5. Transportation.  How will you get there? What is the most cost-effective way to arrive at your destination? Is getting there part of the journey? If you're taking the train, you will need activities (books, cards, full ipods, etc.) with you to while away the hours.

 

6. Accommodations. Are you staying at hotels, renting a home or apartment, staying with friends or relatives, or camping? Figure it out. What do you need to achieve this?

 

7. Food. Our family loves food, and exploring different cuisines. We research the heck out of a place before we go there - there's nothing worse than paltry food when you KNOW there is much better out there. Check out chowhound, urbanspoon, or other food websites. Ask your concierge, campground manager, fellow caffeine-heads in the coffeeshop. Find a market and make your own. Find a cooking school and learn!

 

8. Activities. Here's where your early planning pays off (well, it already has, but this is a very visible way). Each person has their top activities that they love. Bungee jumping? Visiting yarn stores? Swimming with dolphins? Cactus gardens? You've chosen a location where everyone has at least one thing they love available. Watch the smiles on your family's faces as they arrive back, the conversation around the dinner table, the sound sleep of the exhausted. Yes.

 

Cactus gardens

 

9. Emergencies. Plan for these, too. Always have a local number that your family can call if there is a problem (police, hotel, etc.). Make a disaster plan and have everyone memorize it. Memorize, as well, where you're staying, and who to contact back home if there is a problem.

 

10. Happiness. If everyone is happy with the vacation, you will be, too. No more squabbles over who gets what, or who gets to do what. You've cleared that out at the beginning. And who knew that your husband would like the snorkeling, or that your son would be so into the re-enactments? Who could have guessed that your daughter would be so into the modern sculptures in the sculpture park that she asks for more (and classes)?  And isn't this why you travel in the first place? To learn more about each other, as well as new places?

 

da Vinci Horse