How to Get the Most out of a Family Vacation

“Contributed Post”

A family vacation, if done right, should be a fantastic, happy experience to be carried around and warmly remembered for the rest of the year — and for years to come.

Of course, that’s the ideal, and the reality doesn’t always live up to it. Sometimes we find ourselves arguing more than we would have wanted on our bonding-road-trips, or stare in bewilderment as we notice that everyone’s ignoring each other’s presence to check Facebook on their phone.

Here’s a series of tips to help ensure that you avoid these pitfalls and get the most out of your family vacation.

Keep your cool

Every family, even the most harmonious, gets on each other’s nerves from time to time. This, of course, goes double (or triple) if you have teenagers to deal with.

Nonetheless, keeping your cool to the best of your ability is essential during a family vacation — even more than at other times. Vacations are times when powerful memories are formed, and you want to avoid those memories being of massive blow-ups and teary arguments.

Try and promote harmony and understanding as much as possible on the trip, and when tempers do rise, try and stick with calm communication as much as possible. Grab yourself a cooling pillow from too, if you think a good night’s sleep could make a real difference.

Play some traditional games

Board games, card games, table tennis, and any other non-digital forms of competition and entertainment you can think of can be perfect for a family vacation. They melt stress and preoccupation away like virtually nothing else, make sure that everyone remains entertained, and allows openings for laughter and fun.

While your vacation will likely be quite action-packed during the days, a game in the morning or evening is a brilliant way to keep spirits up and lighten the mood.

Avoid the usual distractions

One of the worst-case scenarios for a family vacation is if you just end up replicating the conditions of your home environment, and have everyone end up acting exactly as if they were still at home.

You don’t want your kids to hide away in their rooms, watching TV, or doing things on the internet away from each other the rest of the family.

One of the best things you can do is to setup an environment for your vacation which removes the usual distractions. Perhaps going to a place without a TV, or easy internet access, or having a (carefully handled) rule that everyone has to turn off their phones during certain hours

Try and gently introduce pressures which move everyone towards interesting, new experiences.

Try and cater to everyone’s interests

If your kids and significant other have no interest in art galleries, forcing everyone to visit a dozen art galleries over the course of a few days won’t be a fun time for the group.

As much as we all have our interests and want to do the things we want to do, a family vacation is bigger than any one individual. It’s about everyone having a good time together.

For that reason it’s essential that you practice the ancient art of compromise and allow everyone to express their preferences for the trip. What would they all prefer to do? Or see? What kinds of things are they looking forward to, and what are they indifferent to?

The more you can find common points of interest, the better. Remember that your experience as a group is what really matters here.

Do something new and exciting

Memories are formed and solidified most strongly when we’re doing something new and exciting. The human mind thrives on novelty and makes a special note of new and stimulating experiences.

If you want to test this idea quickly, try and remember the last five times you sat in front of your computer. Probably can’t do it, right? That would be because the experience is so ordinary, mundane, and repetitive, that your mind just doesn’t make a real note of it.

Now, try and remember something like your first time driving a car, or your first kiss. You probably remember it pretty well.

To ensure that you form lasting memories on your family vacation, put yourselves in new and interesting situations. Do a family SCUBA diving course, or visit an ancient monument that fascinates you all.

Get some photos

The years fly by, and we can easily forget some of the finer details of what we were doing at any given moment. Photos are like an anchor to different experiences and moments in time.

Be sure to take a few when you can.

Years later, you’ll surprise yourself by digging through the old photo album and remembering things  you’d all but completely forgotten.

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