The best part of a family vacation is the chance to escape from your daily routine, explore far from home and have fun with your favorite people. You can accomplish all of this with a simple plan crafted to fit your budget. These tips for how to plan an awesome family vacation can be customized for any location and any length of trip!
Plan Your Itinerary in Advance
Some people are natural planners and others aren’t. We’ve learned it’s very helpful to have some sort of plan before you leave on a family trip. A simple plan primarily helps minimize frustration and will likely help you save money.
Start by choosing a destination and how you are going to get there. If you are planning a cross country road trip, you may need to reach specific towns each night to maximize your driving time. If you are flying, it’s important to figure out if you will rent a car at your destination and where you will stay. This may sound silly, but we’ve experienced flying to Hawaii only to discover that renting a car upon arrival was not as simple as we’d thought. If you don’t need a rental car, plan how you will get around using other methods such as public transportation.
Make an Activity Bucket List
Your family or travel group may have different ideas about what they’d like to do on your vacation getaway. While mom tans on the beach, your teenagers may want to hike to the local waterfall. Make a list of all the activities you’d like to accomplish on your family vacation. The list can include everything you hope to do on your trip such as snorkeling, swimming with the sting rays, wilderness hiking, zip lining, fishing, boutique shopping, going to a museum, or visiting a botanical garden. Once you’ve created your activity bucket list, you can schedule the most important activities on specific days and fill in other more flexible activities around them.
Summer Vacation Essentials
You may need some specific gear to conquer your activity bucket list. We recommend bringing quality quick-dry shoes for hiking and walking in water, as well as your go-to pair of flip flops.
Also, it’s essential to wear a good quality hat on outdoor adventures to protect your face from the sun. Tenth Street Hats is a resourceful outlet for finding your perfect hat. You can choose from hundreds of designs in all styles, materials, colors and shapes.
This Taos hat is made in America using a hand woven Ecuadorian Panama design. The braided jute band is a classic touch to this Scala Classico Panama straw hat. The wide brim shields the face from the sun and keeps you cool. The Taos hat is both stylish and very functional to wear on summer adventures while exploring a new city or relaxing at the lake. It fits well and is lightweight enough to be comfortable while also secure on your head.
Wearing a hat helps prevent sun burns and shields your face from UV rays which cause wrinkles and aging over time. It’s important to find a favorite hat style that provides effortless sun protection, which you feel good about and can put on and go.
Finally, sunscreen is a basic summer vacation essential for all ages. It’s helpful to get into the habit of applying sunscreen every morning, especially if you know you will be out in the sun. We love the Bare Republic shimmer sunscreen lotion, shimmer sunscreen sticks and tinted face sunscreen. This shimmer sunscreen is fun to put on top of daily makeup for a little extra glitz that also protects the skin from the sun. The shimmer is derived from mica flakes that stay on your skin all day long. Bare Republic reef-friendly sun care products use cruelty-free ingredients, plant extracts and non-nano mineral actives Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide to scatter and reflect UVA/UVB rays.
Plan a Flexible Vacation Schedule
Your activity bucket list can help you plan your vacation schedule. Whether you’re staying on an island or in the city, it’s most efficient to do the activities that are near each other on the same day. Other activities may only be available on certain days, which you don’t want to miss! A flexible vacation schedule can help you get an idea ahead of time of how you will accomplish all that you hope to do. Don’t forget to schedule in time to relax! Time on a sunny beach is never overrated.
Look for Deals Before You Leave
Many hotels and tourist attractions may offer discounts on vacation activities if you inquire in advance. You may be able to find a Buy One, Get One Free activity pass with a quick Google search for things like snorkeling or an ocean day cruise. Local restaurants and ice cream shops may have coupons available online for discount entrees and limited time offers. You can save a lot of money by looking for deals, which you can pocket or designate for additional family vacation activities.
Book A Unique Place to Stay
If you choose a resort area for your family vacation, it may be a no-brainer to book the all-exclusive resort experience. But if you are traveling with a large group or just enjoy unique experiences, it’s often worth skipping the conventional hotels and booking a personal vacation rental.
Airbnb is a great resource for finding unique short term vacation rentals all over the world. Prices are generally lower than a standard hotel room and you can find accommodations with multiple rooms and extra amenities. It’s easy to get on the Airbnb website, enter your vacation rental criteria and browse the many options available for rent. We’ve stayed at a beachside townhouse on the Oregon Coast and booked a multi-room condo in Vancouver, Canada. We’ve even stayed in someone’s beautifully renovated basement guest quarters through Airbnb. We always choose vacation rentals that have great ratings and more than one room to accommodate our kids and ourselves. Sometimes we have access to our own kitchen, hot tub or backyard for our kids to play in; much more than a standard hotel room can offer.
If you are on the road in an RV or travel trailer, you can be equally as creative with interesting places to stay. Harvest Hosts is a great program which allows RV travelers to stay overnight for free at local wineries. We’ve stayed in some awesome places beside gorgeous vineyards. Often Harvest Host guests are required to spend a minimum (generally around $30) at the winery gift shop. However, we’re always eager to buy (and sample) a bottle of local wine.
Overall, family vacations are a great way to spend quality time away from home. You can easily save money in many ways as you enjoy some unique experiences together. We hope our tips inspire you as you plan your next family vacation.
Katie is a writer and influencer based in beautiful Coeur d’Alane, Idaho. She enjoys DIY projects, photography, decorating and going on family adventures. She feels blessed to be a wife, a stay-at-home mom to three kids and a Pacific Northwest lifestyle blogger.