The importance of vacations to our physical and mental health lies with every person’s need to break the stress cycle by taking time to relax and gain perspective. Additionally, The Importance of Vacations, for Stress Relief, Productivity and Health lies in their ability to promote creativity, prevent burnout, help keep us healthy, promote overall well-being, and improve job performance.
For families, vacations promote bonding, provide unique teaching opportunities, and model the value of adventure and new experiences. Just as important, vacations allow for enjoying children while they are young and before time takes them into adulthood.
While the importance of vacations seems clear, the United States along with five other countries are still vacation deprived. The top reasons for skipping vacations?
- Money (38%)
- Failure to plan (20%)
- Work (10%)
Money and work are deeper issues needing more time and space than a blog post can give. So, let’s focus on failing to plan since it’s probably the easiest one to eliminate as an excuse.
Planning for Family Vacations
The following tips for planning for family vacations work for short (e.g., weekend) trips as well as longer trips. While they do require thinking ahead, the results are ones you’ll be endlessly grateful for.
- Buy a travel book specific to your destination. A good travel book highlights must see attractions and locations as well as hidden treasures. Tips in a good travel book also include the best time to go, money-saving tips, and lists of what to bring. Not only does a travel book provide all the information you need on your destination, it also saves time searching for the information online. You can take this resource wherever you and maybe be motivated to leave your phones in your bags or vehicle.
- Involve the whole family in planning. While this proves easier as kids get older, even younger kids can participate. For example, we sometimes began our planning with a yard sale to “raise money” for the trip even if we didn’t need the extra money. We also encouraged our boys to research the destination and make lists of what they wanted to see and do. They also packed their own suitcases and carry-ons and helped clean the house before we left. Preparing for vacation can be a family event, and making it so takes a lot of stress and pressure off mom and dad.
- Make lists. Even at a very young age, kids can follow lists and usually enjoy doing so. We made lists on what needed done before leaving, what we wanted to bring, and what to do at our destination. We even made lists of activities for the journey there. The lists were written down – on paper – and accessible to everyone. My boys especially enjoyed marking items off the lists as a countdown of sorts to when we left.
- Pack minimally. We take or buy laundry detergent and do our laundry when we’re on vacation. This way, we can pack lightly and save the hassle of dealing with lots of luggage. Packing the essentials and favorites is the key.
Intentionally being systematic about planning and preparing for vacations allowed me and my family to not only look forward to getting away together but also to truly enjoy the time away and be able to come back closer as a family.