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Planning A Great Family Vacation

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Planning a great family vacation can be exciting and fun, but it can also be stressful. I am sharing a few tips that may help you when planing your next family vacation. This also kicks off the Organized Island travel series in which will offer some travel tips I have discovered over the years.

how to plan a fantastic vacation

First let’s talk about what makes a family vacation great.

Elements of a Great Family Vacation

Usually it is things like:

  • location
  • weather
  • something for everyone
  • fun experiences
  • reasonably priced
We have taken the kids on many trips including road trips, International trips, cruises and even a few camping trips. Every trip has been different, some more relaxing than others, but all have been fun for the family.
Tips to plan a great family vacation

Set A Travel Budget

A budget is one of the first things that should be set for a vacation. Vacations can be expensive and knowing what you have to spend will help you make better decisions on lodging, transportation and activities. Even if you set a tight budget, there are ways to save on your trip. If you are renting a condo or have a room with a kitchenette, you can save money on breakfast and other meals. It is really easy to overspend on food in this area on vacation so I encourage you to have a budget plan.

Get everyone involved in part of the planning process

When picking a location for family travel, we looked at family friendly and fun destinations. Once we knew where we were going, we would have a family meeting with the kids to talk about and plan the trip. As the kids got older, the kids responsible for planning activities and were assigned research for the locations we were going to be visiting.

Getting the kids involved in the planning process not only helps them develop planning and research skills, but it also gives them a vested interest in planning the vacation. It also helps to ensure that every family member can explore what they would like. On one of our trips to Europe, we made sure that we went to a crepe restaurant (my son’s choice), to the Coliseum (my daughter’s pick) and Versailles (my husband’s pick). Also on the list? Having authentic Italian gelato!
how to plan a family vacation
Research the Locale

With a little bit of research you can save a lot of money. Many museums have a day of the month or week when admission is free. Festivals and fairs may be going on that can provide you with a fun day of activities for a very low cost or even free! If a city has a hop on hop off bus, it is a great way to see the highlights and decide where you want to go back and spend more time.

 Planning Trips

Consider Lodging Options

Now more than ever there are so many different types of lodging available. Besides hotels and motels, vacation rentals, condo rentals, and community lodging options are now available and easier than ever to find.

Some of our best vacations have been in a home rental where there is a kitchen, living area and in some cases, a private pool. In London, we rented a cool and cozy flat next to the British Museum with a kitchen and a family room stocked with games. We had a blast and although we had to climb stairs to get to it, we felt like were residents, at least for a few days!

renting a flat for vacation

Be An Organized Planner

I recommend starting a file or binder for each trip. Information kept in the binder included flight information, rental car/transportation details, places of interest to visit, as well as emergency information.  When traveling internationally, I also kept a copy of everyone’s passport here. In the event anyone was to lose theirs it’s a lot easier to get a new one if you have a picture photo of the one that is missing.

Keep a Flexible Itinerary  

We always plan some downtime in our itinerary. Know that they’re going to be times when someone’s stomach doesn’t feel quite right, or the weather doesn’t cooperate or someone is just plain tired. A balance of exploration and relaxation is therapeutic for everyone. This allows for local events and activities that may be happening that you did not plan for. We have stumbled upon some cool festivals and street fairs that we did not know existed and it is a great way to experience regional food and music.

Not every trip has worked out perfect, but it was not for a lack of planning. There was one trip the one trip from hell that we took where we all got sick…one by one. But, I can honestly say that all of our planning efforts have worked in our favor in terms of getting everyone involved and leaving everyone with fun and wonderful memories and that is what it is all about.

Do you have a vacation planning tip?

Betsy @ Desserts Required

Thursday 9th of June 2016

Great tips!!! Bringing the kids into the planning process sure does help with sanity on the trip!!


Friday 10th of June 2016

Thank you Betsy! It really does and gives them a chance to develop some planning skills too!

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Saturday 14th of March 2015

I can't wait to have vacations in which the kids can really help us plan!! They're just a bit too young, and our vacations are only to our house in Cape Cod or to Disney World. I want something exotic! I'm going to pin this!


Friday 13th of March 2015

These are great tips. I'm the worst at setting, no I guess keeping, a budget. It's just so difficult! There always seems to be little travel expenses that pop up!


Saturday 14th of March 2015

Thank you Madaline for stopping by! It is hard to keep a budget but it will help and makes it a lot less stressful because you don't want to end up with a big credit card bill after vacation. I am going to be sharing money saving tips in a future post as part of this series. Hope you check them out.