New Year’s resolutions come in all shapes and sizes. Here’s a new idea for 2013: Improve relationships, expand your kids’ horizons and make family vacations count.
Need some suggestions beyond the vague notion of “we’re going to travel this year?” Check out these helpful tips.
Plan a Family Vacation Together
Studies show that moms make most family travel decisions, so make it a team effort. Pull out a map and discuss locations or ask the kids to make a list destinations the research online. The kids may surprise you and have ideas you would have never considered.
Personalize Your Activities
After your destination is set, ask every family member to choose a “thing to do” or personalize one day. Get creative. Maybe one day can be spent exploring a regional park chosen by dad, a theme park day chosen by the kids or mom’s choice of afternoon zip-lining. Allowing every family member to have a “day” or activity will build family respect and make everyone feel special.
Start a Family Piggy Bank
We all know travel isn’t cheap. Start a family piggy bank (maybe a cute airplane or cruise ship) and start contributing dollars and quarters. The kids can portion their allowance money. Create special vacation-style chores or tell them to contribute money from completing acts of kindness. When the family vacation arrives, you can use the money for activities or souvenirs. The best part? The entire family feels a sense of pride since everyone contributed!
Save Money: Plan your Family Vacation in Advance
While the piggy bank is a fun idea, it’s best for the parents to plan the trip long before take-off. Make this the year you avoid charging the trip to credit cards. Shop for travel deals and specials, weigh the cost between driving and flying and compare hotel prices.
Plan A Charitable Trip
Global Citizens Network, based here in my state of Minnesota, is just one of many organizations that invite families to travel to remote destinations and assist needy communities. Taking a charitable family vacation will be memorable, educational, and will teach your kids about the greatness of giving.
Visiting a new country, (for example Mexico,) can offer an array of opportunities for families to learn new languages through immersion classes. Take day trips to the various Mayan Ruins or learn about ocean life through aquatic adventures.
Create a Family Reunion
Sometimes extended families are dispersed across the globe. Reconnect with a family reunion-style vacation. Ensure you try new food, attend festivals and visit historic locations. Live the culture!
Smell the Roses and Slow Down
Remember, you don’t have to do everything on your family vacation. It is okay to let the kids sleep in or stay up late and it’s also acceptable to take some alone time with the spouse. My kids love resort kids clubs. If your kids are the same, let them have their kid-fun while you enjoy a few hours alone.
Try Something New
Do you always go to the same destination year after year? This year, try something different. Instead of the beach, head up to the mountains. Rather that the same theme park, try a dude ranch.
Start a Vacation Photo Collection
Finally, remember to capture your memories! Snap photos every chance you get (just don’t get obsessed) and instead of letting the vacation photos sit on your hard drive, make a cool scrapbook and share your photos. There are a number of brands that offer fantastic photo book options and they’re very user friendly.
Most of all enjoy your family! The kids are only with you for so long; so cherish every moment with them… even when you’re not traveling.
by Beth Blair
Based in Minnesota where she lives with her husband and two kids, Beth is a professional traveler, as a flight attendant as well as a professional travel writer and co-founder of award-winning blog TheVacationGals.com. Beth’s won several notable travel writing awards, including Best Travel Blog at the 2012 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition sponsored by the SATW Foundation.