If you have ever seen National Lampoon’s Vacation (or ever taken an actual family vacation), you know that things can go horribly wrong. And even when things don’t go wrong, we can still be disappointed. It makes me really sad when I hear families say they didn’t enjoy their family trips, especially trips to Disney. So, how can we make sure we enjoy our family trips? Here are a few ideas.
1. Manage your expectations. Shakespeare said, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” And you know what? He was right. Your trip won’t look like mine. Mine won’t look like yours. And it’s not going to look like someone else’s you saw on Pinterest. And that’s completely ok! In fact, it’s awesome! You’re on vacation!
You can plan your trip to fit your family and your individual needs. You just need to make sure you keep them in mind as you plan, i.e. if your toddler naps every day at home, it might not be a good idea to plan to skip naps every day. Or if you take that calculated risk, be ready for an early evening…or pay the too-tired-toddler consequences. And though we might love to try new things on vacation, if your child only eats brown sugar and cinnamon Pop Tarts for breakfast, pack yourself some Pop Tarts (or have them delivered) and skip breakfast reservations. It’s also going to be tough for everyone to sleep together in a hotel room, so be prepared with whatever you need to make it as easy as possible for everyone.
Seriously, I cannot stress this point enough. If you can be realistic about your expectations (especially the expectations you place on your kids), your trip will be much more smooth.
2. Manage your kids’ expectations. Definitely let them in on as much of your planning as you’d like, but don’t promise things you can’t deliver. Prepare them for what they can expect, whether it’s waiting in line for rides, riding in a stroller, or being quiet in the evenings when the baby goes to sleep in the hotel room.
3. Have a good attitude. Don’t get grouchy about lines, the weather, or things you can’t control. Do the best you can to fix the things you can fix, and let the rest go. You’re on vacation, remember? As long as you have a good attitude and a good time, your kids will, too!
4. Know what’s important to you and your family. If your kid doesn’t like princesses, don’t make him or her stand in line to meet them. If you don’t enjoy table service meals and would rather just grab and go, don’t make reservations to eat at table service restaurants. If your kid wants to eat at “that dinosaur place” (as mine has asked to do…again), make special plans to go, even if it means giving up a different themed meal that they wouldn’t enjoy as much. This trip should be about what your family enjoys doing (You’re on vacation!), so know your priorities!
5. Plan and execute. I grew up hearing the saying “Plan your work and work your plan.” The same goes for family vacations. I know it’s a lot of work, but the better you plan, the easier it will be to enjoy yourself once you get there. And plan so you can make things easy on yourself while you’re there – you’re on vacation! Keep in mind that things won’t be perfect – but you can make your trip the best it can be and have an unforgettable vacation! And let’s face it…sometimes our best memories are from times things didn’t go quite perfectly.
The Real Moms are here to help you plan the best trip you can for your family – not recreate our trips or tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. We want to give you suggestions, ideas, and let you know what worked (or didn’t) for us. Information is power. Now, go and plan an awesome trip!