You began learning how to properly plan a vacation for the children in your family in Part 1 of this article. Applying your traits of diligence, thoroughness, and creativity, you clarified who would be going on this vacation. You considered the individual needs and interests of each person going. You and your family searched the many activities you might enjoy doing. You listed at least five viable activities and discussed them together. Finally, you applied great diligence and thoroughness to leave no stone unturned in discovering the best places to enjoy those options.
Now let’s finish learning how to properly plan a vacation for the children and you.
The next question we need to answer is this: When will you go?
In your discussion of what you wanted to do on vacation, you may have decided on warm weather pursuits, but you are not limited to those. “When” does not have to mean summer. You are not necessarily bound to that calendar. Show diligence in understanding your family’s needs to come up with the best time for vacation. Give it your full attention until you know you’ve nailed down the best time possible.
Many people plan a theme park – in the sun. They talk about building sandcastles on the beach – in the sun. They anticipate ending a long, invigorating, but hot hike – with a dip under a cool waterfall. That’s fine. Summer may be just the “when” that your family needs for your favorite activities.
If your family members are such snow fanatics that you can’t get enough, however, your “when” might be winter. You might want to extend an already-long weekend or use the winter school break for your vacation. If your budget will expand, you might increase the excitement by taking your family to a southern hemisphere nation in July. It will be warm in the United States, but you can ski and make snowmen to your heart’s delight in New Zealand! Try July dogsledding in Alaska! A scenic helicopter ride will land you high on a snow-covered glacier for summer dog sledding!
Exercise creativity. Step back and be sure the vacation time you’re considering meets the needs of your family. If it does not, act to research and plan a new kind of vacation time that will meet the needs.
Don’t ask how to properly plan a vacation for the children unless you’re willing to answer this question: Why are you going? Are you just keeping up with the Joneses? Are you going on vacation because everyone in your circle of acquaintances goes? Did you decide to plan a vacation for the children so they would have something “cool” to tell about when they return to school in the autumn? Is a vacation for the children a rite of parenthood to you?
Why are you going on vacation? You could save money by staying home. You could take time away from work and enjoy activities in your own neighborhood – a complete change of pace. That would save money, for sure. It would go far toward saving your sanity, as well, since you would not have to engage in often tiring packing and life on the road. Take time to thoroughly reason why you are planning to go on vacation. While reasoning, read about vacations. You may be surprised.
If you are a workaholic, read studies such as the one by the State University of New York at Oswego. It surveyed 12,000 men ages 35 to 57. The results showed that men who go on vacation every year reduce their overall risk of death by 20 percent (20%). There’s a reason to plan a vacation for the children (and you). A Wisconsin Medical Journal published discoveries that women who take two or more vacations a year reduce the likelihood of becoming depressed, tired, or unhappy with marriage.
Answering the “why” of your vacation will help you get the complete picture – and prepare you for the practical “H” question – how.
How will you handle the logistics of a vacation for the children? Logistics are the things you must do to plan and organize a vacation that involves your children. You have decided the who, what, where, when, and why of your vacation. Now how do you make it happen?
- Reservations – Make reservations early for airlines, other transportation, accommodations, and all activities that allow it. Print e-tickets when possible – and boarding passes. Confirm everything in writing. Don’t assume anything or leave anything to chance.
- Home Security – Ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your home, and give them a key. Close and lock all windows and doors. If you have a home security unit, set it. Stop mail delivery. Place a hold on other regular services. Hire someone to maintain the lawn. Put away bicycles, etc.
- Packing – Plan what needs to be in each suitcase or backpack. We recommend ultralight backpacks for those old enough to carry them. Engage each family member in packing his or her own. Parents Magazine’s Child’s Packing Checklist will make the task fly. It helps you pack by age and by destination. Adapt it for older children and adults. Fodor’s Travel site has another excellent checklist that saves the step of adapting it for teens. You as well as the children should practice packing early to be sure everyone has necessities. Do final packing (parents, too) a day or two before departure, leaving room for last-minute necessities. This plan will reduce stress and increase enjoyment for the whole family.
- Miscellaneous – This website has a list of 14 Things You Forget to Do Before Leaving For Vacation. It’s worth checking.
- Pre-game Routine – You don’t need an actual chant to launch your vacation, but do take time for a little pre-game routine. Talk with the children before it’s time to leave. Be sure they know what to expect. Be sure they know your expectations for behavior during the vacation. Let them know that the greater everyone’s cooperation, the greater their fun will be.
Now that you know how to properly plan a vacation for the children, squeeze into your own bag the best of character traits, love. Dispense generous helpings of it as you travel, and your whole family is sure to come home refreshed and happy.