Summer is here! School is out and it’s almost time for the family vacation. Excitement and adventure await. Though in reality, the build-up to a family trip can often be rather challenging. We seem to spend the colder months counting down the days and looking forward to some much-needed warm weather and time off work, yet as summer approaches, this can bring a little anxiety, as thoughts of preparing for and being “disconnected” start to replace those of the day-to-day grind. The sense of responsibility on what to pack, what to do, how to manage the inevitable hiccups, and thoughts of how to deal with fears of flying and traffic, over-excited and over-tired little ones, all while feeling the need to be in control, and present an image of blissful calm.
We put pressure on ourselves to present the image that we, the family gatekeeper, is calm and unflappable in the face of chaos and uncertainty. Likewise, the pressure that everything must be perfect; all that time planning for every eventuality and striving to make sure the holiday is one to remember for everyone, often leaves us too tired and wired to enjoy it ourselves… or leads to feeling a little deflated when things don’t turn out exactly as planned. Yet it really doesn’t have to be that way, maybe it’s time we gave ourselves a little break…
A vacation is for everyone to enjoy – you included – and getting everyone involved in the planning might be just the thing to make your next trip one to remember - for all the right reasons. It’s all too easy to shoulder the weight of planning and preparation ourselves. Yet sharing the load can be something fun, educational and help bring the family together. Getting everyone involved can make the transition in to vaca-mode calm, smooth and seamless, leading to a trip filled with personal touches that are unique to your loved ones. All of this + taking the planning load off you = a real win-win.
First, encourage the family to get their thinking caps on early; not only will this help to generate excitement and enthusiasm, but also give everyone time to come up with ideas and inspiration and reduce the likelihood for last minute panic. Once the destination has been planned and the travel booked, ideas can be shared, with roles and responsibilities agreed between the family. Perhaps one of your brood is a whizz with trains, or your partner fancies themselves a foodie. Play to each other’s strengths and agree who will do what, how, and by when.
Here are a few ideas that might help to get the family working together to create the perfect travel plan for a calm and happy vacation:
Planning what to do
Assign one of the ‘team’ with the task of researching things to do close to your hotel or rental. The best beach? Wet weather activities? ‘Must see’ attractions? Encourage creativity with the added challenge of throwing plenty of free activities in to the mix.
Food glorious food – your foodie’s trip
Your resident foodie will relish the task of researching the local specialties. Perhaps the town is famed for a particular delicacy? Be sure not to miss out, with a little homework you’ll be sure to find the best place to try it, and where to learn more. A chance to sample the local delights at the cheese museum? Delicious! Make a shortlist of cafes, restaurants and street food stalls to sample. If you’re self-catering, then find out what cooking facilities are available and where to buy ingredients for meals that can be rustled up and enjoyed together.
Your calm journey on the way
Whether your journey is by plane, train, or automobile, delegate the task of ensuring “how” you’ll get around to make sure it’s smooth and enjoyable. What maps and apps are needed to navigate? What games can be played, landmarks to look out for, and picnic stops.
Packing it all up together
Ask everyone to write their own packing list, with some guidance on what can be shared, for example toiletries, and what’s needed individually. Invite the team to develop a ‘shopping list’ of things that need to be purchased, while ticking off items they already have.
Tests and triggers
What are the things that might cause problems? A little one with a fear of flying? Grandad’s back seizes up after sitting for an hour? With the rest of the team busily working on their tasks, and you can make plans for healthcare essentials and tips for a calm holiday.
So, get the team onboard for a calm, shared approach to vaca preparation. Calm travelers lead to a calm, enjoyable and memorable trip. Wishing you tranquil travels.