Hi there! Welcome to Flawed yet Functional! My name is Emily, and I like to encourage you to create your best life with healthy habits, food, and hobbies. With summer upon us and two family vacations in the bag, I want to share with you the best tips I’ve learned this summer. What is the single best tip for how to enjoy vacation with family? Click through to find out!
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How Do You Enjoy Vacation With Family?
Let’s just be honest here. Vacations with kids are not relaxing. The tasks and responsibilities are the same on vacation as when at home; however, they’re harder! Now you get to deal with the same struggles in behavior and entertainment without as many resources AND in a new place! The behavior struggles alone are enough to make a mom want to scream at the thought of a “vacation.”
BUT…it doesn’t have to be this way…
You can love family vacation if you view it as an adventure instead of a break. Yes, vacation is a break from the daily grind, but with young kids present, it will not necessarily be a time of rest for you as a mom.
However, adventures are loads of fun! When you phrase it as exploring, adventure, excursion, or discovery, who doesn’t want to do that? Work to change your frame of mind so that you are leading your family to have fun, learn new things, and overall just enjoy being together.
Expectations are everything. You are still a mom, even when on vacation! Food will still need to be cut up, boo-boos kissed, and unkindness corrected. It will still be “work,” but it can be enjoyable work! Let’s take a look at 5 practical ways to make a family vacation fun.
5 Practical Tips for How to Enjoy Vacation With Family
Look for Things to Learn
No matter where you go or what you choose to do, there is an infinite number of things for your family to learn. Check out the city’s local museum. How and why was the city founded? What is the city known for? Did any major historical events happen there? Learn about them!
Museums are great places for learning but so are gardens, reenactment grounds, nature centers, and government buildings. Use a variety of resources to broaden your learning and keep your kids interested and engaged!
Find Outdoor Space for Free Play
What’s one way to enjoy vacation with family? Get everyone outside!
No matter their age, kids can benefit from outdoor, unstructured play. If your kids are young, a local park with a playground structure or walking paths will suffice (you may even get to sit and relax on a bench for a bit! Maybe…).
If your kids are older, still get them outside but up the ante. Go for a challenging hike (the older the kids, the more difficult the hike. Perhaps sprinkle in some rock climbing!). Let them plan a bike ride around the city or to a specific destination. Spend a day at a water park. Explore a downtown area on foot.
Create a Daily Vacation Schedule
Kids love routine and knowing what is coming each day. While on vacation, create a new daily schedule that will tell the family what is going to happen when. A bit of structure will help the whole family have fun in the current activity while building excitement for what’s next.
It might go without saying, but a routine also helps Mama keep her sanity. Not only do the kids know what’s coming next, but Mama does too. You are not just winging the day, you know roughly what each time will bring. Not that you have to know the whole week’s activities in advance, I didn’t! The night before I would figure out based on the weather and kids’ behavior what activity they could handle the next morning whether that was the zoo, exploring a local park, or even just some downtime in the hotel.
My biggest tip would be not to tell the kids until the day of what the adventure of the morning or day is. Just in case the weather changes or you come down with about a sickness (like I did one day!), it’s better not to raise their hopes if you have to dash them the next day!
Sample Vacation Schedule
For example, on our recent trip to St Louis our days looked like this:
- 8:00 am-9:00 am – Breakfast at the hotel then back to room to pack a lunch and leave for an adventure.
- 9:00 am – 2:00 pm (roughly) – Our adventure would take us up to and through lunchtime and sometimes into the early afternoon.
- 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm (again, roughly) – When exploring the new location was finished, we would head back to the hotel to swim. Sometimes this was a very long swim time, sometimes not depending on everyone’s energy level.
- 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm – Back to the hotel room for “quiet time”. I didn’t do quiet time to the extent we do it at our home, but I read aloud to them while we all snuggled in the big bed or on the couch. The goal was just to be still and rest for about an hour. No, I didn’t always read out loud for an hour. My voice couldn’t do that every day! Sometimes we would color or draw, read magazines, or listen to podcasts, but this was a time my two littles needed. Even at four and five, they still need some downtime with less physical and mental activity.
- 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm – Dinner at the hotel or in our room.
- 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm – Time for one last bit of playtime for the day either at the pool or a local park nearby with bedtime at 8, like usual.
Be Prepared With Food and Water
My biggest fail for an outing with my kids while on vacation was when I didn’t check if the museum allowed food inside of it. Turns out it did, but I didn’t bring any water or food with us. As a family with allergies, it is difficult to find a hearty snack at concessions or vending machines. I ended up with a fruit cup and some gluten-free potato chips for them. They were satiated but not filled with nutritious food. Oh well, it is a vacation, but it could have been avoided had I realized I could bring our entire lunch inside the museum!
Another day we had planned to go to the Cahokia Mounds site, which I knew allowed food, as it was almost all outside. My kids are like camels; they had drunk most of their water by the time we got to the mounds so there was not much left for walking around. It was extremely hot that day. We quickly ran out of water as we explored outdoors.
Even though we had plenty of food, we were thirsty and had to return to the visitor center to refill our water bottles. In hindsight, I would have kept some water in a cooler in the car so we could have refilled them before we went on our hike.
So no matter the activity, make sure there’s enough food and water with you. It saves on time, crankiness from the kids, and poor nutrition from having to buy food on the go or from a vending machine.
Choose to Explore
Don’t we all love to discover new things? Isn’t it fun to find something interesting, new or different? Your kids are the same way! Change the way you talk about new destinations. Explain that “we are going to explore” the new site. Your kids will love the challenge to find new and different things and understand their new surroundings. Just change how you present the activity to set a positive mindset for all involved.
How to enjoy vacation with family all begins with you, the parent, changing your perspective on the trip. Choose to make it an adventure. Develop a habit of exploring new locations with your kids with curiosity and a desire to learn. Enjoying a family vacation is all about being prepared and setting the correct expectations. Our two vacations this summer have been the best family vacations yet with a change of mindset for me. I set out ready to have an adventure and explore. That is what I told my kids we were going to do, and guess what? We all had a blast doing just that! A little structure, free play, learning, food and water, and a great time was had by all!
The key to enjoying vacation with kids is to think and plan it as an adventure. Adventures are fun and active, two things kids love!
Learning new things, outdoor free play, a rough daily schedule, being prepared, and most of all: choosing to explore will create so much fun for the whole family.
No, it usually isn’t. However, an adventure with your kids is fulfilling. It creates lifelong memories that your kids will cherish when they are older. Relaxing can be done later!