Family holidays are supposed to be times full of fun and family bonding. Yet there are so many mistakes that people make that family holidays gone wrong are a whole movie genre in and of themselves. In this article, we’re going to expose seven mistakes people make when planning a family holiday. We’ll also discuss how people end up making these mistakes and how to avoid making them yourself.
You’ve planned an eight hour drive but failed to consider where bathrooms will be along the way. You’ve packed clothing but forgotten swimsuits despite picking a hotel with a pool. You’ve packed inhalers and sunscreen but forgot a first aid kit, resulting in the holiday being disrupted by a trip to the emergency room. You didn’t do enough checking of the venues’ schedules, so you arrive on the day they are closed. You arrive in town without doing due diligence and end up in a hotel without a room available for you or have to pay much more than expected. You can avoid all of this by planning your holiday properly in the first place.
You’ve planned the family schedule down to ten minute increments. If anyone wants to stay longer to appreciate the view or enjoy the amenities, you’re yelling at them to keep to the schedule. If anything unexpected happens like an illness or oversleeping, your entire day is ruined because the schedule is shot. You set a budget so tight that you’re micromanaging expenses while the family is frustrated at the constant supervision. You can over-plan your holiday by taking too many extra items for every contingency, making logistics a nightmare. When looking at Niagara Falls hotels, for example, do select one with a price and amenities you like and a view you appreciate, but not one in which you have planned in 15 minute increments when you’ll spend time in the gym or doing laundry.
Too Many Activities
The corollary to over-planning is cramming in too many activities. This does not necessarily come from over-planning, though trying to set a schedule to do everything does create a hectic, less fun holiday. Not planning what you’ll do when you arrive at a destination and then trying to do everything actually occurs as a result of under-planning. The ideal case is picking one to three major activities to do per day like museums, theme parks and tours.
You’ve arranged a family holiday and expect everyone to instantly get along because you’re going on holiday. Then the children fighting in the backseat or older children complaining of boredom spoils the whole mood. You expect to instantly heal rifts with teenagers or a distant spouse and become distraught that the holiday doesn’t solve all your problems like it does in the movies. You expect your children to be awe-struck by natural wonders and become disappointed when they don’t. You set standards for the holiday that are so high that normal setbacks like asthma attacks, illnesses and injuries become disasters instead of annoyances you plan around.
Not Involving Children in the Planning Process
You need to involve your children in the planning process if they are old enough to have an opinion. They don’t get to set the budget or determine every aspect of the trip. However, they should have a say in which attractions you visit. A one hour visit to a petting zoo in town could be as thrilling to your toddlers as that natural attraction, while planning to visit a toddler-friendly exhibit at the museum preserves everyone’s sanity.
If you have young children, you must take their routines into account. Fail to schedule quiet time for the toddler’s nap, and no one will be happy. If you’re traveling with young children, plan routes with more potential rest stops in case they say they have to go to the bathroom an hour after leaving lunch.
Not Deciding on the Rules
You should decide before you go on holidays which rules remain in effect and which literally stay at home. What will bedtimes be? What time will everyone get up in the morning? Are certain behaviors still off limits?
Not Planning Ahead for the Lost and Found
Take maps in case GPS doesn’t work or the battery in your phone dies. Pick up maps of locations you visit. Discuss with your children what to do when separated from the family. Ideally, plan on a buddy system so an older child or assigned parent is supervising a younger child. Label your bags with names, addresses and contact information so you can be reunited with lost luggage. Discuss stranger danger with your children and which strangers they can approach for help when lost. If you have pets, make sure they have ID, too.
Plan your holiday down to the places you’ll stay and activities you’ll do, but don’t over-plan. Don’t stuff the schedule, and have realistic expectations of the holiday. Involve your children in your plans to a reasonable degree. Know what rules you’ll enforce before you leave home. Plan for what happens if your children are separated from the family and have alternative ways of finding your way around both the amusement park and the state you’ll be in.