The other day my sister asked her two kids where they wanted to go on vacation as a family next summer. She held her breath as she mentally imagined her bank account quickly draining into the dismal Disneyland abyss.
However, without hesitation, they quickly responded with, “Camping!”
Wait … what?
No, they didn’t want to go to Disneyland. They had done that before. They had also gone camping before. So why did they choose camping over the happiest place on earth?
It’s simple. Affordable and fun family vacations are more about quality time with your family and less about where you go. Don’t get me wrong. Disneyland is fun. I loved Disneyland as a kid and I still do as an adult, but when I think back to my most treasured times as a child on vacation with my family, I usually find myself in the mountains somewhere around a campfire.
I know, you’re saying to yourself, “Well, I hate camping.” Don’t stop reading yet. You don’t have to be a camper to have affordable and fun vacations with your family.
I looked up the definition of family vacation in the dictionary and it was a lame definition (sorry, no offense to Webster). So I created my own.
fah- ma-lee vay-kay-shun ❘ noun/verb
- A period of time during in which loved ones give their undivided attention to each other (and their kids if applicable) doing something they don’t do everyday, in a place they don’t usually go on a daily basis.
- Laughing, amusement, happiness and joy
- Does not include electronics and does not require loads of money
I think sometimes we get caught up in the idea that family vacations are expensive, far away and stressful. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s a few tips that might help you the next time you sit down to plan your next getaway with the people you love.
TIP #1 – Keep it simple
If you are experiencing brief moments of extreme panic and rises in blood pressure every time you think about planning your next family vacation, then maybe you should take a step back. Sometimes all that your kids need is some sand and water or a campfire and fresh mountain air and they will be entertained for hours. And then you can finally finish that book you started three months ago.
TIP #2 – Vacation starts when you pull out of the driveway
It’s amazing how long a three-year-old can be entertained by his very own box of Avengers bandaids.
Wherever you decide to go on your vacation, you still have to get there. Why not make the trip entertaining for your kids so you still have hair left on your head? Here’s a few of my fave road trip car activities:
- Wiki Stix (get them here)
- Boogie Boards (get them here)
- Pipe cleaners (get them here)
- Bandaids (get them here)
- Kids’ maps
- Rubber bands (get them here)
- Cookie sheet (get one here)
- with magnets (These magnet animals are awesome)
- License plate game – 50 states license plate activity
TIP #3 – Create a theme
Each year, my family has a photo contest to see who can take the best nature, best animal or best person photo during our vacation. Then we all vote on them at the end. Everyone loves participating, even the kids and it gives everyone something to do together throughout the entire trip.
Or you can try going on an “ABC Vacation”. Just hop in the car and each destination along the way starts with the next letter in the alphabet. You never know where you’ll end up but I can almost guarantee it will be fun. Check out the FREE PRINTABLE link below for more road trip car activities. Ideas on themed vacations, more car activities, websites and MORE
Putting the fun back into family vacations
There’s a something empowering about freeing ourselves from the cyber chains that drag us down unsuspectingly. When our children turn off their tablets, their imaginations turn on and when we turn off our Smart phones our children have faces and names again.
So, just remember, when you’re on vacation with your family, it can wait.
TIP #5 – Time off doesn’t have to be a factor
In a perfect world, you could drop everything, take off for a month and come back and your boss would welcome you back to work with open arms. In reality, there’s a little thing called Paid Time Off.
But don’t let that keep you from spending quality time with your family. If you have a free Saturday, take your spouse and your kids and explore. Go somewhere you’ve never gone before. That is a still a vacation in my book. If you live in Utah, check out the awesome FREE PRINTABLE below for a list of “day vacations” or provide comments below of some cool places chez-vous.
Day vacations in Utah