Whoever said “it’s not the destination that matters, it is the journey,” clearly never had to brave the adolescent anarchy, diner food, and highway gridlock of a family vacation.
Planning a family vacation can be a daunting task. With drastically different age groups attempting to partake in the same festivities, creating an escape that will satisfy all involved can seem like an unrealistic endeavor. So why is it that some families seem to have a great time on their annual getaways, while others can’t wait to get back home? Here are a few key things you can do to ensure a great family vacation for all involved.
Let’s say last year’s family getaway didn’t go so well. When it was finally over, you arrived home in need of more rest and relaxation than before you left. Looking back, you get the sense that your carefully-planned retreat was doomed before it ever started. But maybe that is because of where it started. Sure, you got the suitcases packed and in the car, maps or GPS ready to go, ipod charged and loaded, and the gas tank filled, but your family vacation actually began weeks before that, in the planning stages.
Whether you grabbed as many brochures as you could get your hands on, surfed the Internet, or robotically booked a week at the same place to which you go every year, if the adults took the reigns in picking the place, you can’t possibly be shocked that the kids feel like they are being dragged there. This year, get everyone involved in planning your family getaway and be willing to give on the destination.
If you followed part one of this series, you and your significant other have already had a romantic retreat for yourselves. Whether your kids are more white-sand beach or snow-capped peaks, character-themed amusement park or historical landmarks, the trick to a harmonious trip is to give them a say in the matter. You may be stunned to find them anxiously dragging you to the car in anticipation of a great time together.
Whoever said “it’s not the destination that matters, it is the journey,” clearly never had to brave the adolescent anarchy, diner food, and highway gridlock of a family vacation. There is, however, a not-so-well-kept secret to your survival—four simple words that will save your sanity as well as everyone else’s: technology is your friend.
I know, you finally have your kids away from sports, friends, and their cell phones; and the last thing you want is for them to have their ears stuffed with earbuds and their faces stuck behind a computer or hand-held video game. However, choosing the car ride as the time to engage them will likely backfire on you.
Consider it a lesson in patience, and take comfort in the fact that when the kids have grown up and have kids of their own, and computers have been reduced to nothing more than a contact lens that obeys your thoughts, they will continue the family tradition by lamenting the days of the laptop, ipod, and headrest DVD player. Choose your battles and let technology en route to your destination be a concession on your part. A family vacation is one of those rare instances where it really is the destination and not the journey that matters.
You’ve done it. You let the kids have a say in the location, you let them have their toys on the way; now it’s family time. Lock the laptops, ipods, cell phones, and DVD players away. Due to the allowances on your part, you may be surprised to find the younger set more focused on the excitement that lies ahead than their gadget separation anxiety. The next part is easy: Go. Do. Enjoy. All of the planning and work has lead to this moment. Although you may find yourself cringing at the crowds or queasy after braving the most extreme roller coaster in existence, you will find that although you may not have experienced the location you would have chosen, the real destination is the fact that you are experiencing each other in a way that you only dreamed of before.