This is 100% inspired by a great recent travel post from Cup of Jo: the #1 trick to enjoying family travel.
Expecting that everything will be easy + perfect = recipe for disappointment.
Some things will go wrong (extreme deep freeze in Montana; flat tire in Chicago; COVID on camp visiting day*) and some things will go right (kids enjoying ski school; delicious ice cream; cousins playing together happily).
*Okay that one actually DID kind of suck!
This is definitely a travel-heavy summer for us. In addition to Jo’s wise reminder, here are some of the things that help us (and me, personally) enjoy family travel . . .
1- Above all, remember travel is a privilege — so it makes sense to try to think/act accordingly! Just getting in a plane as a family is enormous privilege. There may be annoyances, but it’s best to remain good natured about it all. I feel like there are certain people who always seem to have a good time (example: Kae!) and others who tend to nitpick. It really is more fun when you generally take the little microdisasters in stride. If everyone is okay, then they will only add to the memories.
2- You usually get what you pay for. Someone recently commented noting that we could travel less expensively. 100% correct! And trust me – I am well aware 🙂 But I don’t always want to choose the most budget-friendly option. For better or for worse, I actually really enjoy accommodations on the ‘nicer’ side, and trying fancier restaurants on occasion. They are part of the experience for me, aaaaaaand yes — they cost more. The trade off is that maybe we will do fewer (and/or shorter) trips, or choose more adventures that are close by. And that perhaps our vacation ‘slice’ of the overall budget will be larger than in some other families. I am okay with that. I’m sure other slices are smaller (housing, home decor, and cars come to mind).
(I DO try to take advantage of things like credit card points or frequent flier when I can! They do help — every kid in our family has frequent flier numbers!).
((ALSO this is all relative. There is a ton of fancy travel that is just 100% COMPLETELY out of our price range!))
3- 1, mayyyyyybe 2, things per day. I know — this one may be controversial. But we are of the ‘quit while we’re ahead!’ mentality. We enjoy down time on vacation, and so do the kids. “Regular” life can feel hectic and exhausting, and I don’t want my vacations to feel that way! Usually one (and sometimes 2) anchor events is plenty for any given vacation day, and I love building in a day or two of very little in the way of obligation.
Things like Disney/skiing – we are never the first ones out there, NOR the last ones standing. And I prefer it that way!
4- Exercise can fit into vacation if you want it to. I know some people like to relax and take vacations as a break from working out. I felt that way when the kids were younger (maybe because at that time, it was physically exhausting to be away from home with young kids!). Now however I prefer to keep up some running/activity most days. ESPECIALLY since I often go to places with better running weather than we have here. My runs are often a trip highlight (they definitely were in San Diego + Evanston!).
5- Alcohol. I probably have something like 2 drinks per month under normal circumstances, but I do drink more on vacation — often a glass of wine most nights, especially if we are out to dinner somewhere fun. I am okay with that, though may experiment with less on our longer trip this summer just because too many nights in a row and I REALLY feel the difference in sleep quality.
6- SEE THE PEOPLE! If I’m going near where friends live, I am going to make plans (preferably in advance — people are busy!) to meet up with them. I always find it worthwhile and fun, even if it isn’t always logistically easy. I also am always so amazed how instantly natural it feels to be with old friends.
I think travel is SOOOOO individual and I am in no way saying my preference are in any way ‘right’. It’s just interesting to reflect on! If you are a person who loves cramming in multiple activities each day and recoils at the thought of an early run on vacation – totally reasonable 🙂