5 Tips for Planning Your First Family Vacation

Written with love, by Felicia

One of the things my husband and I have wanted to do since we got married 3 ½ years ago was to go on a family vacation. We’re blessed with families that get along, which is kind of half the battle. What our family was not blessed with is proximity. We’re spread out all along the East Coast – from New York to Georgia and almost every state in between. While we do get to see our family members who live in town almost every week, the rest we only get to see once a year, usually at Thanksgiving, minus the occasional weekend trip here or there throughout the year. So, getting everyone together for a family trip was something we planned on doing for a while.

Planning a family vacation is kind of like planning a wedding in the sense that there are lots of moving parts and the need to get everyone (like your vendors) available at the same time. Here are my top five tips if you and your spouse plan on hosting a family vacation:

1)      Plan as far ahead as possible – Just as with a wedding, the further out you plan, the easier it becomes. Send an e-mail or an e-vite to let your family know the event is coming up. More time allows people to make plans, put in for the vacation time at work, save money for the trip, etc.

2)      Give date choices – A wedding is more of a “must-do” event: You tell people when and where to show up and then they decide if they are coming or not. A vacation is a very subjective and personal thing. Some folks like to vacation in the winter to get away from the cold and snow; others can only vacation in the summer, when kids are off from school. By giving a few date choices (three tops), you give family say in their vacation planning.

3)      Expect to become the expert – If you and your spouse are the ones planning the vacation, expect to get a lot of phone calls or e-mails with questions or concerns people have. Be prepared to answer them. Do your homework and make it as easy for your family as possible. If it gets too complicated for someone, you diminish the chance of them going.

4)      Do not expect everyone to go – Because this is a vacation and something that is optional, you are always going to have people who, for whatever reason, don’t want to go. Perhaps you’ve chosen a destination that doesn’t appeal to everyone. I, for one, would pass on any trip that required hiking or camping; the Great Outdoors and I are not a good combination. Perhaps people have gone to that location before and don’t want to go again. Maybe it’s just out of their price range, or they really can’t take the time off. Whatever the case, expect some people to pass.

5)      Plan an open-ended vacation – While this is a family vacation, and you are all going to be at the same location at the same time, it does not mean you have to spend every waking hour together. It’s still a vacation and people need space to unwind and relax. Plan maybe one or two big family meals or outings, but then let everyone plan their own time and do what they want to do.

So, tell us, have you ever planned a family vacation? How did the planning process go? What tips do you have?