Family vacation do’s and don’ts

The saying, “The family that plays together, stays together” is supported by research. Strong families spend both work and leisure time together. This doesn’t mean they do everything together, but a balance of shared and individual activities is important. For most families, the leisure time spent together doesn’t happen unless it has been planned.

The family vacation is an important way for families to strengthen their ties. However, you may like the beach, your spouse prefers the mountains and the kids want to go to Worlds of Fun. Relax, differing leisure preferences are the rule – not the exception. What’s a family to do so that everyone is happy?

Holding a family council meeting is a good way to reach a decision. It’s not just calling the children together and informing them what Mom and Dad have decided. Follow these suggestions so that everyone feels they’ve contributed. Start by identifying the issue. Are you conflicted on deciding where to go? When to go? What to do? Brainstorm different ideas and get suggestions from everyone. Think about it for a few days and do more research if necessary (i.e., costs, schedules, distance, etc.). When the family gets together again to make the decision, ask for volunteers to plan specific parts of the vacation (i.e., activities, schedule, food, the route, etc.). Remember kids like to DO things, most adults like to SEE things. Spending additional time together as a family can very likely create conflict. Be prepared for it. The family is not used to being cooped up in a few square feet of car space or spending all day together. It’s a good idea to plan some free time and independent time. Maybe Dad and daughter can go shopping while Mom and son look for shells.

Travel logs, postcards, e-mail postings, photographs, and videos are all excellent ways to preserve vacation memories. The recollection of shared, happy experiences can be as important in creating closeness as the vacation itself. As children grow and leave home, these memories become more valuable than the things vacation money could have been spent on. The primary benefit of family vacations should be improved communication and closeness. Memories made can fill the reservoir of family unity and caring that will sustain the family through future problems and crises.