Vacations are an incredible reprieve from the daily grind, until you have to take them with kids. Then the daily grind just seems to happen in another location you had to shell out money for. Today’s episode we will learn 5 tips on how to take a family vacation so that no matter the age of the kids, you too can recreate and re-create on your vacation.
Tip No 1. Vacation always starts by PREPARing YOUR HEART
- Prayer - bring it all to God; often. Offer thanksgiving, ask for your time to be blessed.
- Search the Scriptures - search keywords in the Bible like "rest" "refuge" "peace" and ask God for wisdom on how to apply truth to your life.
- Be in communication with your spouse - (and/or other adults who are taking the trip); talk about expectations and ask where each person needs help in preparing for the trip; discuss times and ways each parent can lighten the load so the other can take a real breather.
Tip No 2. BUILD ANTICIPATION
- Vacation Money Jar - growing up my brother and I painted old glass spaghetti sauce jars and glued shells and other things on them, punched a hole in the top and started filling it with all the change we could find and money we earned. Decorating the jars gave us a physical reminder that vacation was coming and that we could work hard to earn spending money for souvenirs, ice cream, floaties- you name it!
- Prayer Countdown Chain - make a paper chain with not only a countdown to vacation, but on each paper link, write down something to pray for that day as a family. This is a great way to build anticipation through prayer and go before the Lord with your trip. It teaches us to lay our requests before the Lord and eagerly wait for His answers.
- Family Planning Night - dedicate a night (or two) to dream up the adventures everyone wants to have while on vacation. Talk about what you want to bring, where you want to go, and list some activities you can do together. This is a great opportunity for parents to set some expectations for the trip.
- Plan a Surprise - it doesn't have to be anything big, but try and keep something a secret about the trip. For older kids you can have them guess at dinner one night while you give clues. For little ones, get them excited about a surprise activity or tasty treat. I know as a kid Dippin' Dots would have sent me off the thrilled deep-end; or space ice-cream?! So fun!
- Prepare Together - getting reading for a vacation can be a big task for dad and mom. Dividing up responsibilities can encourage the family to work together so they can play together. Preparing might look like a big laundry day, or preparing road trip snacks, or getting the yard ready.
Tip No. 3 Make a PLAN BUT BE FLEXIBLE
- Create a calendar of days that you will be gone and where you will be.
- Jot down some ideas of activities you could do for each of those days.
- Think through museums, water parks, zoo's, and other places that may charge admission.
- Research area attractions, restaurants, and activities.
- Plan down time and be sure to think through the personalities of each family member and what they would enjoy doing.
- Going in with a plan is a type of preparedness that can alleviate the stress of planning and deciding while on vacation. But be sure to hold plans with an open hand. If Tuesday is beach day and it's raining outside, it's a great exercise is adjusting expectations for the kids (and ourselves).
Tip No. 4 CAPTURE MEMORIES
- Take pictures and videos and put together a family slideshow to watch after the trip
- Have older children participate in the making of a digital slideshow
- Print off some pictures and have younger ones make a scrap-book or cards to send to grandparents
- Before you go on vacation, look at past vacation pictures and talk about what you enjoyed that trip
Tip No. 5 LET TRAVEL BE PART OF THE VACATION (NO MATTER HOW STRESSFUL IT IS)
- Bring a special snack reserved only for trips (one family would only buy Swedish Fish when it was time to travel - the kids would get so pumped to see those little red fishes appear)
- Make a picture book to take along (for younger children) filled with snapshots of where you're going, who you'll see, to build excitement
- Plan for special treats at the airport or rest stops. Nothing like a starbies and a giant pastry to make me smile while sitting on a tarmac.
- Practice thanksgiving - for parents write down and meditate on things you are thankful for; or make it a tradition, that every time you turn on the car (whether at the beginning of the day, or after a rest stop) have everyone say 3 things they are thankful for (thankfulness changes attitudes)
- Share pictures, videos, memories on the way back. Let each person share their favorite memory or a "rose and a thorn" from vacation (something they loved, something that was difficult).
- Have a big family prayer of thanks when it's time to travel home.