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As a mom of two kids, I know firsthand just how difficult it can be to plan a family vacation. It can be overwhelming just figuring out where to begin, let alone maneuvering through the process of figuring out where to go, securing lodging and flights, and planning activities for everyone.
Through countless trips and plenty of trial and error, I have come up with this fool-proof guide on how to plan a family vacation. The easy step-by-step guide below has helped me learn how to remove stress from the equation and enjoy planning our family trips.
If you’re wondering how to plan a family vacation without losing your mind in the process, keep reading.
How to Plan a Family Vacation: 7 Top Tips
Step 1: Decide on a budget.
The first step to planning a family vacation is sitting down with your partner and deciding on a budget. Once you’ve got your budget (or a range) you can determine how to divide it between lodging, transportation, food, souvenirs, and activities.
Without a budget, family vacation planning could easily fall apart, and we don’t want that!
Step 2: Decide what kind of family vacation you want.
Once you’ve agreed on a budget, it’s time to brainstorm the kind of vacation you want to share with your family. Think about your shared interests and vacation destinations that appeal to different types of people.
Does your family love the outdoors? A trip to a national park could be a great choice. Want a trip that doesn’t require much planning? Check out cruise options. Want to hit up a theme park? Disney World might be right up your alley. Think about your audience (AKA your family) and figure out what kind of vacation would appeal to everybody.
Step 3: Do your research.
Congratulations, you’ve picked your next family vacation spot! Now that you’ve done that, it’s time to hit the books. Or in this case, the internet. You can find tons of incredible resources online (Pinterest is a great one!) about your destination to help you figure out the best times to go, what to pack, local eats, and what to do once you arrive.
Step 4: Book your flights and transportation.
Always, always book your flights before your lodging. Why you ask? Flights are typically the most expensive component of any family vacation. For this reason, it’s important to be flexible with dates, so you can take advantage of the best possible flight deals.
This is also the time to determine whether or not you’ll be needing a rental car. Think about where you’re going, what the public transportation situation is like, and whether you think you’ll need the ability to get around on your own.
Step 5: Book your family-friendly lodging
Once your dates are locked in, it’s time to select your lodging. Think about the primary reason why you chose your destination, and how close to that attraction you want (or can afford) to stay. Choose a few options that appeal to you, weigh the pros and cons thoughtfully, and select the lodging choice that works best for your family’s needs.
Step 6: Build a tentative itinerary.
Now that you have booked your flights and lodging, the fun part can begin. Begin to build a rough itinerary that you can use as a template for your family vacation. When I first learned how to plan a family vacation the right way, this was one of the things that helped me most.
A tentative itinerary will serve as a roadmap for the excursions and activities you want to plan for the family.
Step 7: Book excursions and activities for your family
Okay, this is when really family vacation planning really gets exciting. I highly recommend letting your kids be part of the excursion planning step, as it’s a great way to get everyone excited about the trip and make the kids feel like their voices are being heard.
One of my favorite family vacation activity ideas is booking a professional photography session for the whole bunch—it’s so much fun and an amazing way of making sure you have plenty of awesome photos to remember the trip by. We love to use Flytographer, click the link to book your photography session for your next vacation.
Here’s a pic from our last Flytographer sesh in Nashville.
Step 8: Try to plan alone time with your spouse.
When you’ve got small children, alone time with your spouse often feels like a pipe dream. However, I have found that carving out a little one-on-one time with your partner during family vacations is a great way to relax, recharge, and connect with one another.
Consider bringing grandma or a trusted family friend along for the vacation to help with this. Many hotels also offer daycare options and cruises are known for offering plenty of kids-only activities, so the parents can enjoy a little downtime.
The most important piece of advice I can give to anyone planning their next family vacation is to breathe, be flexible, and remember to have fun. It’s a vacation, after all! By following these simple steps on how to plan a family vacation, you can plan all your trips more intentionally and ensure that everyone in the crew has the best time ever.
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