It’s often said that the journey matters as much as the destination. We’ll go a step further: Your traveling companions count, too…and there’s nothing quite like traveling with your family. Who better to share unforgettable moments and to make memories with than the ones you love best? Whether you’re bonding with your little ones or reuniting generations, a worthwhile family vacation helps you break away from the stress of the daily grind and get back to what counts —time together to recharge and reconnect. Here are five ways to bring your family closer than ever on your next vacation together.
1. Share and Share Alike
Packing heavy, overstuffed bags can trigger overweight charges from airlines—or extra stress when you can’t see out your rearview mirror on a road trip. When a family travels together, sharing key items streamlines baggage. Eliminate your jumble of cords and AC adapters by sharing chargers, or carry a single tablet instead of multiple bulky laptops. Kids with small items of clothing can pack together in a single suitcase. If your kids are reluctant to travel without their own favorite character-themed bag, perhaps you can convince them to instead wear a themed t-shirt on travel days—even consider matching travel t-shirts for extra family bonding fun. Before you hit the road, have everyone prepare a packing list. This way, you’ll track everything you need (and bring nothing you don’t). By eliminating packing frustrations, you and your family will be able to focus on what matters—your time together.
2. Get the Little Ones in on the Action
Kids love to play travel agent, and the best family vacations let even the youngest members get involved. For instance, let the kids plan one afternoon excursion during your getaway. Arm them with brochures or steer them to websites featuring cool things to do in the area, and let them handle the rest. Give them a budget. Let them manage the maps and lead the way. As you build your itinerary, keep everyone informed of new plans and ideas; working together will be a group bonding experience you’ll remember for years.
3. Make Memories on the Road
You may have planned a special vacation, but, with family getaways, things can fall to pieces if you haven’t spared a thought for your transit days. Bring your family together through group games and activities. Prepare activity bags for every family member and fill them with trivia games, shared snacks, magnetic puzzles—anything to keep hands and minds occupied while in transit. On a road trip? Sing songs together or play games like “I Spy” or “Never Have I Ever.” With older kids, pack whiteboard markers and enjoy a rousing game of “Hangman” on the car windows.
4. Save Here, Spend There
Creating and sticking to a budget is an essential part of family travel. Part of balancing frugality and a good time is knowing when spending money actually saves you money. For instance, it makes sense to choose a hotel with extra amenities. When you stay at Quality Inn, your room will be clean, affordable, and comfy, and you’ll even get free waffles in the morning. The money saved by a free continental breakfast for your hungry horde can go toward that perfect souvenir, a goofy photo of your family on a roller coaster that captures your amazing day at a theme park, or a special dinner on your last night of vacation.
5. Advanced Planning for the Win!
Nothing can derail a good time faster than a minor emergency. The best way to keep crises from ruining your getaway is to be prepared. Keep a first-aid kit stocked with bandages, aspirin, wraps, moleskin, etc. in your travel bag. If you take prescription medications, bring extra doses. Carry a light jacket or sweater, even in warm months, in case the weather takes a turn for the worse. Along those same lines, pack ponchos or rain gear if you’ll be spending time outdoors. Not only will you have protection when you need it, but you’ll avoid paying exorbitant prices at your destination, or wasting valuable vacation time comparison shopping.