Take the Stress Out of Family Vacations

Nothing brings back fond memories like a family vacation. But with so much to do in so little time and so much to remember, the delight of a family vacation can be coupled with plenty of stress! Here are some ways to take the stress out of family vacations.

Plan Ahead for Your Family Vacation

Nothing can create stress faster than not having a plan. Planning ahead means that the moment you decide to take a vacation, you will begin to work out the plans. Where will you go? What can you afford to do? When is the best time to go? How will you get there? How long can you be gone? Before going any further, you should know the answers to all of these questions.

Don't forget to include the children in your plans. Although you will make the final decision, it helps children to feel more involved and part of the family if you decide together on where you will go and what you will do. Once you have those plans in place, create a budget.

Budgeting for Your Family Vacation

Vacations can easily get spoiled when you end up spending too much money, or worse yet - running out of money in the middle of your trip. If you budget ahead of time, you will eliminate a lot of financial stress. Decide beforehand what you can afford.

Save up for your trip to eliminate stress. You can this many ways; putting aside pocket change, a certain amount from each paycheck, or even having the children save up their allowance to purchase souvenirs. Once you have decided on a budget, decide that you will stick to it no matter what.

Every day of your vacation, calculate how much money you have spent to make sure you are staying on budget. If you were able to spend less money one day, then allow yourself to spend more another day. Keep aside some emergency money, however, just in case.

Confirm Your Reservations

Whether you have booked a flight, hotel or rental car, make sure you that you have confirmed all of your reservations. Keep copies of reservation slips and proof-of-payment in an easily accessible location in case there is a problem.

Plan Your Activities

Plan which activities you will do. Although you may wish to enjoy everything that is available, time and your budget may not allow for it. So choose the activities that are most important to your family. At the same time, you don't want to create such a rigid schedule that there is no room for flexibility.

Check the weather ahead of time to see what the expected forecast is. If one day is supposed to be rainy, you might choose indoor activities for that day.

When planning your activities, also take into consideration the time you have available. If you try to do too much in a short amount of time, you will only end up missing out on the enjoyment of the activity.

It's also a good idea to set aside one day during your vacation, if you can, to do nothing. This is especially true if you are going on a trip that involves a lot of walking and traveling. Having a day where you lounge at the pool or beach, perhaps in the middle of your vacation, is a great way to relieve the stress of doing too much. Give yourself permission to just relax and do nothing - after all, you are on vacation and deserve a break!

Put Together a Packing List

Packing at the last minute is a surefire way to forget something. Putting together a packing list ahead of time will save you lots of hassle and stress. Keep the list handy so that every time you think of something new, you can write it down.

A helpful tip is to set aside a morning where you write down everything you used in order to get ready for the day. This will help you to remember common items that you will need to pack. Take another look at your trip itinerary to get ideas about "just-in-case" and activity-specific items, like a bathing suit and hiking shoes.

Make sure your packing list is complete but not overboard. While it's certainly a pain to not have the appropriate clothing or enough of it, you create stress by over-packing. Lugging around a heavy, over-stuffed suitcase can put even the happiest camper in a foul mood. Pack only what you will truly need, taking into account the weather conditions and planned activities.

Put Together Travel Bags

Put together travel bags for your children or if you have teenagers, encourage them to put together their own travel bag, filled with fun things to do. Whether you are traveling by car, boat or plane, children can easily become bored. If you are prepared with some age-appropriate travel bags, the trip will be more enjoyable.

Not only do you want items that will keep them busy but you may need to pack drinks and snacks, as well.

Leave the World Behind You

A family vacation is supposed to be a time that you get away and spend quality time with one another. That means leaving the world behind you. Cell phones may be necessary in the case of an emergency but try to keep them turned off if you can. Don't take phone calls from work or friends.

Leave the computer, video games, and gadgets behind at home. Leave work behind. Leave the troubles of the world behind you. Only then will you find yourself being able to really relax and enjoy yourself as a family.

Decompress After Your Family Vacation

When you get back from vacation, you need to decompress. Allow for at least a couple of days in between your return and getting back to work and other normal activities.

You will likely be tired and want to spend time catching up on laundry, Email or phone calls. Allow yourself that extra time to do so. Nothing is worse than taking a great family vacation and becoming stressed the moment you get home. Giving everyone a chance to unwind before resuming daily activities will allow you to smoothly transition back into everyday life.