Want to know how to plan the perfect family vacation? While there may be no such thing as a perfect vacation, there is a way to make sure you have a wonderful trip.
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How to Plan a Perfect Family Vacation
Perfect is used here rather loosely. When you’re on a family trip, there just isn’t such a thing as perfect. There will be times that the kids cry, someone needs a bandaid, your activity gets rained out, etc. It’s okay though for things to go a little wrong because you can still have a fantastic time!
To have a good time, you’ve got to go into your family vacation with the right attitude. Understand that being flexible will help everyone to get along and may even lead to discoveries on your trip that weren’t even part of the plan.
1. Start with a Vacation Plan
The first thing you’ve got to do is make a plan. Yes, this might be obvious, but many people don’t go beyond picking the dates and scheduling the hotel and flights.
Your plan actually starts way before that … it has to start when you’re first coming up with ideas about where to go and stay. So, let’s see what you need in order to get started.
2. Use A Printable Planner
Your planner is the perfect place to keep everything in order — to manage all the details. It’s so common to keep a note here and there, maybe some in your phone, some in your paper calendar, some in the computer, and some printed and placed on top of your desk. Believe me, your plans end up a mess if you do it this way.
I created a printable digital planning pack just for the purpose of having everything all in one place. Put it in a folder or binder to keep from losing papers and details. This is the most amazing binder ever because it will hold everything in one place. You can even put receipts, documents, and souvenirs in it. And, this one would be great for the kids because it zips up to hold everything inside.
3. Consult the Family
Create a family travel bucket list of all the places that you and the kids talk about wanting to go. After you’ve got them written down, you can start to decide where to actually go. It’s important for the kids to have a vote in order for them to be just as excited about the trip as you are.
4. Create a Vacation Budget
Having a travel budget will really help you in the planning process. Your kids may want a trip to Disney World, but if you’ve only got $1,000 for your vacation, there’s just no way to make it happen. Let them see how much there is to spend and use that as a guide to help narrow down your options.
With a budget in hand, you can also determine what kind of places you can stay at and whether you need to drive or fly.
5. Compare and Schedule Flights, Accommodations, and Car Rentals
In my Travel Planning Pack, I’ve included printable pages to compare flights, lodging accommodations, and rental cars. You may be tempted to just track these things in your head, but having it written down will really help.
6. Search for Fun Activities and Attractions
There are so many different activities that you can participate in no matter where you’re traveling to. If you want, look up free activities in the area or use TripAdvisor to find the most popular attractions to enjoy.
Depending on how your family likes to travel, you may only want to schedule one thing to do each day or you may be the kind of family that loves to be busy, busy, busy. Just don’t overschedule your days and end up needing a vacation from your vacation when you get back home.
7. Pre-Trip Plans
Be sure to list out all the things that you need to take care of before you go. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Pet Sitter
- House Sitter
- Clean out the Fridge
- Dump the Garbage
- Water the Plants
- Gas up the Car
8. Get to Packing
You’ll want to start packing way ahead of time. It’s very common to start packing the kids and then realize that their sandals are way too small or they don’t have a sun hat. If you’re packing at the last minute, you’ll end up frazzled, running all around town trying to pick things up. Use a printable packing list like those included in the Travel Planner to help remind you of everything you might need.
9. Plan Your First Meals Home
So often after a trip, people come home to an empty refrigerator late at night. Be sure to have food in the house for your first full day home. This way, you’re not going to the grocery store on the way home from the airport … or even worse, find that you’re out of coffee and need to leave first thing in the morning after a night of not much sleep.
Some things to have at home for those first meals:
- Frozen Bread
- Canned Soup
- Frozen Lasagne
Your first week home is also the perfect time to schedule a meal delivery service like Gobble, Hello Fresh, or EveryPlate. We have enjoyed these meal kit subscriptions a ton – you can read my reviews to get more information.
10. Enjoy Every Moment
Yes, you can enjoy it all. Laugh when there are struggles, Hug when there are fights, and Love all the little moments in-between.
Take a look at the Travel Planning Pack in my shop for more details. The pack of printables also comes with Adult and Kids’ Coloring Pages, a Road Trip Scavenger Hunt, Daily Review, Kids’ Journal Page, and lots more (29 pages in all).