More Work, New Place? 5 Ways to Avoid an Exhausting Family Vacation

No family wants to return home exhausted, wishing they could take a vacation from their vacation. Amie O’Shaughnessy, founder of the leading family-friendly accommodations guide Ciao Bambino, offers these 5 tips to ensure that your family trip runs as smoothly as possible.

1. Choose Wisely

It is essential that your family chose a destination that fits with the amount of time allotted for the vacation. If you are traveling to Europe, for example, you should plan on staying at least 10 days due to the time difference and the travel hours. If your children are very young, creating simple itineraries with no more than two location changes will help the trip run smoothly. And if your children are of different ages, make sure that you choose an accommodation that will be suitable for all. Babies and toddlers are often easily entertained, while older kids are more discerning about what activities they deem enjoyable. Don’t forget to factor in your own idea of what constitutes a good vacation. There are plenty of family-friendly accommodations that cater to parents, offering a spa, fitness classes or a golf course onsite.

2. Understand the Range of Accommodation Options

Accommodations vary quite a bit by destination. Condos and apartments can be stellar in some locations but low quality in others. Also, you will need to know the level of responsibility you want to take for your trip. If your family requires a range of amenities and onsite services, then double-check to make sure that your accommodation provides what you are looking for. If you’re more independent or see your family being out and about every day, then make sure you aren’t going to be paying for property features you will not be using. Many properties can recommend babysitters, but be aware that there is a range of rates. If babysitter rate information is not available online, ask the concierge to confirm it for you so you can understand how this will impact the budget for your trip. Many beach hotels offer kids clubs, but be sure and understand any age restrictions before you commit to a property, as it would be frustrating to show up and find out your kids are too young to participate. Goals vary from trip to trip, so it’s a good idea to make a list of your family’s priorities before you make final accommodation decisions.

3. Plan but Don't Overplan

Vacations run smoothly when families combine structured activities such as guided tours and classes with pure, unadulterated time to relax. Overly scheduled trips are stressful, more reminiscent of work or school than a vacation. Leave some open time for your family, but make sure that the activities that are part of your priority list—popular museums and guided tours, for example - are booked well ahead of time. If you’re traveling to a beach, your family could benefit from the all-inclusive set ups offered by some resorts and hotels, saving you the stress of piecemeal activity pricing.

4. Understand the Trip Participant Dynamics

It’s important to take a close look at your family’s interactions and dynamics. How does everyone get along in close quarters? Some families adapt easily to a single house, while others are better suited for separate accommodations in a resort setting. The latter works especially well for single families, while a villa rental might be the best option if you’re traveling with a larger group. Many full service resorts now offer onsite villa rentals, combining the best of both worlds. Traveling with more than one family can be tricky, so make sure that you know each other’s traveling preferences and living penchants beforehand.

5. Maximize Use of Online Resources

With the proliferation of online resources for family travel, finding a great vacation property has never been easier. Dedicated family travel resources are growing on the web. Ciao Bambino publishes a comprehensive guide to family-friendly accommodations highlighting the features families need to consider when making travel and itinerary decisions – www.ciaobambino.com. Delicious Baby offers city guides and a wealth of tips, articles, and information for families – www.deliciousbaby.com. TravelMuse is a new website that publishes original articles and information around a number of international destinations - many of their articles are about family travel related topics – www.travelmuse.com.

A well-planned vacation can be the highlight of the entire year! There is no need to fear traveling to dream destinations with your kids in tow.