Family Vacation Planning Tips


Spring has sprung and you know what that means? That means it is time to plan the annual family vacation! Part of me dreads it but a bigger part of me gets excited thinking of the possibilities of where we could go. I have been planning annual vacations for several years. My family travels well together because we have a plan before we leave. I better give my hubby credit because having an itinerary, which includes down time, helps maximize your time… especially if there is a lot to do when you arrive.

Now, I know some of you like to go on vacation and just do nothing. That is NOT my family. I have active children and a husband who doesn’t like to “sit” for more than a day or two. So, as a mom of now older young adult children here is what I want you to know as I ponder this year’s great escape out of town.

When your kids are younger keep it simple and your expectations low. I spent way too much time making sure everything was going to be “perfect” and ended up feeling like I needed a vacation after the vacation. Do you know what I mean?? Someone was always crying. Someone got sick. Someone at work quit. It was too hot. On and on and on.

I put a lot of time into researching places to go. My husband and I have always felt like if we made the trips memorable the boys would want to continue going with us. So far, we have been right. There are so many places in the USA that make fantastic vacations. You don’t always have to do the same thing.

Last summer we traveled to Denver and then headed to Wyoming where we stayed at Brush Creek Ranch. Oh my! Great for all ages. It was all-inclusive, had activities for everyone, and was also a good way to beat the heat. We had to pay extra from some activities; like golf and fly fishing, but for us, the price was so worth it. We did a ropes course too! Speaking of the ropes course. This was a first and we were all scared! After watching my fam do it I thought it is now or never so I climbed right up thinking I was going to conquer my fear only to arrive at the top and get stuck literally with fear. I made it through round one and having felt like I did all I could do then was told had to fireman drop down the rope to get to the bottom. Keep in mind I was the only female including the guides and I cried a little not gonna lie. After 20 minutes of coaxing and encouraging I did it and squealed like the girl I am all the way down! I was so proud and really glad I did it. Participating is a memory in the making! We also relaxed… sitting in rocking chairs or played pool at the pavilion. Laid back luxury! Check it out

Another idea is to have your teenage kids plan your vacation! Yes, do it! I talk about it in more depth in my book.  After taking German for 6 years we told our younger son Grant that we would go to Germany to celebrate and he was going to plan the itinerary. All I had to do was book flights and a car. Let me tell you what a treat it was each day to get up and ask what we were doing on that day. Talk about a real vacation! LOL. Empower them to work together with siblings to lead you on a memorable trip. This way they take ownership for planning and can see first hand how expectation vs. reality may or may not measure up. For Grant, this was a great life lesson that he is still using today. I also felt empowered that I let go of the lead and gave that to someone else. I have never heard of anyone messing up a vacation. It was a great parenting moment for sure to see the pride he felt.

To those that go to the same place each year I call that “tradition” and commend you for it. I am married to a man that doesn’t particularly like that. Besides, I am not quite sure where we would go if we went to the same place. I’ve often thought that perhaps we have missed out on something; not having that “special place”. But I don’t think so. Wherever you go and whomever you are with makes it special. I will be totally honest… I don’t know where to go this year! It is late March and we don’t have a plan. Club Med at Sandpiper Bay in Florida sounds nice. Did you know they have family vacations?  

While my husband and I have been to the Greenbrier in WV the boys haven’t and they seem to have a lot of interest in that place because of the history, golf, and gambling. Mom sigh… my husband has his sights set on an Alaskan cruise. Whatever the destination will be, I know that as long as we are together, making memories, spending time with one another and having fun it will be awesome and we will look forward to the next year when we choose another special place to call our own. Follow me on Instagram and Facebook to give me suggestions of where to go and see where we end up!

Anne Gaines