Have you ever gone on a family vacation and come back even more exhausted than when you left? Oftentimes, we come home feeling like we need a vacation from our vacation. We come home feeling tired, stressed, and oftentimes, broke. The solution? You need to simplify family travel so that you actually enjoy your trip and come back feeling rejuvenated after some special bonding time with your family.
I’ve heard it said that going somewhere without kids is a vacation, and going somewhere with your kids is a trip. Ha!
It doesn’t have to be that way! Although there is obviously a difference between vacationing with and without your kids, both should leave you feeling refreshed and reconnected as a family.
Is it possible to relax on a trip with my family?!
So, how is it even possible to relax when you go on a trip with kids? It’s harder, for sure, but not impossible with some (minimal) planning and intentionality on your part.
First, you can relax on a trip with your family by scheduling downtime into your day. You could look at this another way: don’t over-schedule your vacation!
Second, plan some simple activities that don’t wear you out. These could be looking for seashells at the beach or taking a long break for lunch. Think about what you enjoy doing on vacation that doesn’t leave you feeling exhausted at the end of the day.
Third, make sure all activities are family-friendly. There’s nothing more exhausting than trying to get your kids to enjoy something they don’t want to do.
How can I simplify family travel?
Alright, let’s talk about ways to simplify family travel. When you simplify your vacation plans, you will be more prepared, less overwhelmed, and better able to enjoy yourself.
1. Simplify Your Spending
The first way to simplify family travel is to create (and stick to) a budget.
Money is the number one stressor between married couples. So, it’s no wonder why all of the money being spent on our vacation stresses us out. It’s important that you set a budget and stick to it. Few things are worse than being in debt. Let me just tell you right now…it will NOT be worth it.
There are so many ways that you can simplify your spending and keep it as low as possible while still having a wonderful vacation. Make sure that you shop around for the cheapest flights (or search for the cheapest gas stations if you’re driving).
Try to travel during your destination’s off-season when it’s more affordable and less busy.
If you want to go decrease your traveling expenses, even more, consider camping or staying in an Airbnb. Consider staying somewhere with a kitchen so you can save money by eating in. If you are staying in a hotel, look for one that offers free breakfast or kids-eat-free meals.
When it comes to entertainment while you travel, you will save big money by living like the locals instead of doing all of the touristy things. Check for local discounts and free or cheap community events. Plan your day around a certain area so you can drive once, park your car, and then walk or bike to the things you want to see and do.
To save money on food, the biggest thing you can do is avoid eating out for every meal. Plan which foods or restaurants you are dying to try, and plan to buy your own food for the rest of your meals. Bring water bottles to avoid needing to stop for beverages every hour.
Plan to stop at grocery stores for snacks and easy meals instead of convenience stores and gas stations where food is more expensive. Pick up food for breakfasts if you aren’t staying somewhere that provides it. You could even plan to eat a big lunch and skip supper (since it’s usually cheaper to eat out for lunch).
The key to creating a travel budget that doesn’t feel like it’s keeping you from having fun is to prioritize. When you plan your trip intentionally and make sure you do the things that are most important and interesting to you, you will still have an enjoyable vacation.
Intentional planning will help you stay within your budget. And, that will make you feel great when you return from your trip without feeling like you need to get a second job to pay the credit card bill.
2. Simplify Your Time
The second way to simplify family travel is to simplify what you do with your time. This is where the prioritizing you did for your travel budget comes in handy.
Take a look at your priorities for the trip, and schedule those. Leave the rest of your time open for spontaneity and downtime.
Block off time for naps and meals to prevent anyone from getting too cranky. No one wants to deal with an overtired toddler or a hangry husband.
Make sure that you are taking every one’s wishes and interests into consideration. Your kids are more likely to be agreeable during your vacation if they got to choose at least one activity.
And do what you can to prepare ahead of time. For your kids, prepare an activity bag or box for them to keep busy on the plane or in the car. Even more, plan what you will do for each block of time while you are traveling so you aren’t left without ideas when the kids get antsy. If you are road-tripping it, plan to stop every few hours so everyone can stretch their legs.
Travel with snacks on hand so you don’t have to drop everything to find food. Be prepared with a change of clothes for each person anytime you go out. Things happen and you don’t want to have to buy spendy clothes or go back to your hotel early.
Finally, to make the best use of your time and help ensure your trip is as relaxing as possible, stay somewhere with at least two bedrooms. Most of the time it’s cheaper to stay in a house or condo than it is to stay in a hotel suite.
Having a separate bedroom for the kids creates enough separation and normalcy to your vacation so that you don’t return completely wiped out and sick of each other!
There are so many ways that you can simplify family travel so that you enjoy your trip, and come back rejuvenated instead of exhausted and broke. You have to find ways to simplify your spending and your time so that you can create wonderful memories while bonding as a family.