Plan A Fun Family Vacation

Vacations enhance the bond among family members and provide an opportunity for fun, relaxation and new experiences. Prepare your family and save your sanity with organization and planning for the best vacation possible.

Children Packing Suitcase

The plan

Figure out what your family is looking for in a vacation and plan your budget. With the rising costs of gas and airline tickets, transportation easily can be your biggest budget-buster.

When packing your carry-on and hand luggage (a backpack works best because it frees up your hands), the general rule is to be prepared for delays and messes. Once your luggage is checked or placed in the trunk, your carry-on transforms into a veritable magician's hat!

A travel checklist

Some things to have with you when traveling by plane, train or automobile are:

  1. A change of clothes for your child. It's cold in airplanes, so pack a sweater or jacket, too.
  2. Any medicine your child is taking. If meds are packed in a suitcase, flight delays may keep you from reaching it at the scheduled dosage time. Bring medical and doctors' information as well.
  3. Coloring books, word games and puzzles are also good ways to pass the time. For little children, colorful toys that make noise are often a good distraction.
  4. Portable DVD players (many cars come with built-in DVD players, too) can be lifesavers on long trips.
  5. Electronic handheld games are ideal for older kids.
  6. Children's books on tape. In fact, bring along the most beloved books (those that the kids ask you read again and again) and pop into the CD player to let someone else do the reading.
  7. Resealable plastic bags to hold dirty clothes, trash and so on.
  8. Snacks with minimum mess potential and ease of distribution such as fruit, granola bars and chewing gum to help relieve ear pressure during descent.
  9. A color photo of your child for ID purposes in case you become separated.

So you're there -- now what?

A happy, content family can make any place seem like Shangri-La. Plan different activities that appeal to different family members and one activity a day you know the whole family will enjoy. You may want to look in to resorts and accommodations where trained and certified nannies or kids' programs are available so that you can indulge yourself while your kids have a blast with others around their age.

All-inclusive destinations have tons of activities and recreation for kids and a variety of restaurants to keep even finicky eaters happy. Even drinks are sometimes included, so you can enjoy the convenience of never having to carry cash or credit cards.

Returning home

Kids are creatures of habit, so while the vacation meant an escape from the usual routine, coming home brings back the routine and security.

Here are three steps to ease into this transition:

Step 1 -- Leave on a good note. Prepare for your homecoming before you leave for your trip.

Step 2 -- Schedule extra time. If possible, take an extra day off to tie up loose ends, rest up, sort through the mail and deal with any issues that came up while you were gone.

Step 3 -- Unpack right away. Ask everyone to help unpack for a specified amount of time (maybe 30 minutes) and deal with the inevitable mountain of laundry.

Whether visiting museums an hour away or flying overseas, your family can survive any vacation with a little planning and enthusiasm!

More fab family travel tips

10 Must-haves when vacationing with kids

8 Great destinations for making memories that last

Save money on your next family vacation

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Comments

Comments on "Stress-free family travel guide"

Shannon January 18, 2013 | 12:48 PM

Great read! It's hard not to stress when traveling but I remind myself that getting there is part of the actual vacation. Enjoy yourself!

James E Crawford December 27, 2010 | 11:34 PM

A getaway would be a great 40th ann present

Rhonda Baker December 26, 2010 | 6:03 PM

I haven't had a vacation in so long I can't remember the last one. My husband is on disability and I have alot of different autoimmune disorders and am just about there myself. A vacation would be a Godsend for us. We have been married almost 40 years and these last few with this economy have been rough, as almost everyone can attest to. I lost my job of 20 years as a layout artist on top of everything else. To have a vacation and get away for even a little while would be absolutely WONDERFULL!!!

Jacqueline Fisher December 20, 2010 | 7:54 AM

We desperatly need a getaway. Home life can be stressful, but there is hope for 2011...I've got my fingers crossed!! :) Jacque (mom of Jude)

Alejandro December 16, 2010 | 7:45 PM

Hope i win! Need money dont have a job

Roxsand Comer December 16, 2010 | 1:14 AM

Found out I have breast cancer (again for 2nd time!) and a week later found out I also have lung cancer and cancer of lymph nodes in chest. Would love to be able to go home to see my kids & grandkids again.

Lauralee Hensley December 08, 2010 | 1:28 PM

All of our family trips were taken on much less money than this. Well, actually all our trips were emergency type trips, e.g. family member sick, family member died, family member in coma from car accident, family member needs rescued from crazy friend that is kind of holding her somewhere she shouldn't be. You get the drift.

patricia Y Russell December 05, 2010 | 8:19 PM

My granddaughter in Florida just called for me to send her money. She got a speeding ticket coming home from work.

Joe December 04, 2010 | 5:16 PM

Been going through some tough times financially like most people. Would love a vacation for wifey and the kids.......

Trish December 02, 2010 | 9:42 AM

My husband passed away on Nov 7 after a bad fall that resulted in severe brain injury. I really, really, really need to getaway. I am only 55 and disabled and can't afford anything, especially now. What a geat Christmas if I could see my family.

Cheryl Pharr December 02, 2010 | 5:19 AM

After the financial hardship these past few years taking my family and children on a vacation would be a blessing for my children who haven't been able to have a vacation in years due to the fact that my husband and I are disabled and are not financial able to give them a vacation.

R. Gwendolyn Owens December 01, 2010 | 9:43 PM

I have 13 grandchidren,2 greatgrands and another greatgrand on the way,dont you think I need a vacation. OH! I would bring them too.

KathleeenS. Guillot December 01, 2010 | 7:40 AM

Need a Lung Transplant and need to get away before it happens

Leslie Graham November 29, 2010 | 6:38 PM

My 2 daughters (Logann 22 and Lindsey 25), along with my sister Sue, are my best friends! We agreed as a group to always make time to travel together and to make each trip an adventure. The Chicks adventures so far have been to a local restaurant to sample their food, a fun ride on the Go-carts in Greensboro, NC., to attend a cousins wedding and family reunion in Boston, Mass., and other adventures include a trip to the movies, window shopping amd pedicures for all in Raleigh, NC. My daughters are in college with very limited budgets and Sue and I work long hours to make ends meet, so we are all much in need of rest and relaxation. I would love to travel with The Chicks to a spa for The Works!!! I know we will find the most economical trip and have more than a great time!!! Thanks for the opportunity!!!

Dennis November 29, 2010 | 10:45 AM

I was forced to retire from the Highway Patrol due to a rare lung disease (sarcoidosis), which has encompassed 3/4 of my lung capacity. I also only have limited use of one hand, due to injuries from performing my police duties. I would like to take my wife on a vacation, but can't afford one as we are surviving on my small retirement. We are blessed in sharing our love for each other, and I just wish I could give her more. She is the most loving person I have ever met. God bless you and Merry Christmas.

YVONNE HANSON November 29, 2010 | 8:37 AM

Enter me in your vacation give away please

Jan Deno November 28, 2010 | 3:55 PM

I, first of all would like to wish everyone the best! This isn't for me..it's for my daughter (who just had a ft. of her intestines taken out from CROHNES) & her 5 yr. old son that has SPINA BIFIDA. She's always dreamed of going to Calf. She's in school to be a nurse so she might have something some day, instead of being on disability herself. She's doing 4.0..doesn't drink or smoke...a good mom with another son 9 mo. She's very deserving. My prayers for all!

Priscella Zieminski November 27, 2010 | 8:29 PM

A relaxing vacation would be welcome after a stressful year

Karen Dorcey November 27, 2010 | 3:17 PM

let's goooo....

Elaine Morgan-Brabec November 27, 2010 | 8:57 AM

My daughter and grandson haven't been on a vacation in 8 years. We are having tough times as everyone else is. I lost my job in January down sizes,my daughter lost her hospital job in Sept 09, grandson in high school oh yes I also lost my father 3 years ago and lost our home. Living on unemployment is tough just not enough for all bills one month you pay Paul next you pay Peter. We would love to drive in a motor home to Yellowstone in the summer.Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones. Love your show. Elaine

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