How to Actually Enjoy Your Family Vacation (Without Spending a Fortune)

Before kids, vacation is about lazy days, thrill-seeking adventures, and late nights on the town.

After kids, well, things are different, to say the least.

If your family vacations feel more stressful than staying home, you’re not alone: Most parents say it’s tough planning a vacation that everyone enjoys, and that once there, they end up ditching the itinerary just to keep the peace.

Sure, there are fancy resorts that will entertain your kids on vacation. But they don’t come cheap, and a luxury stay — not to mention the flights there and back again — isn’t in every family’s budget. However, you don’t have to spend thousands to take a pleasant vacation.

These tips might not stop your kids from complaining while you’re on vacation, but they will help you avoid stress and maybe even relax a little!

Don’t Sleep in the Same Room

Sharing a single hotel room saves money, but this is one area it’s worth spending more for a little comfort. Instead of cramming into one room, book a suite or opt for a vacation rental instead of a hotel. That way, you can put the kids to bed and enjoy time to yourselves.

Don’t assume a vacation rental will be more expensive than a hotel. In many cities, short-term rentals cost about the same as hotel rooms but with a lot more comfort for families. Plus, even if you spend a bit more on lodging, you’ll save money by cooking family meals in a kitchen.

Plan More Time Than You Think You Need

Nothing is more stressful than being in a rush while your kids dawdle or launch into a tantrum. When planning your itinerary, schedule plenty of time to get where you need to go — and once you think you’ve given yourself enough time, double it.

This often means a lighter vacation itinerary, but it’s better to take it slow even if it means seeing less. As tempting as it is to cram your itinerary full, you won’t enjoy yourself if you’re dragging cranky kids along with you. Plan free activities, such as visiting a nearby park or hitting the hotel pool, in case you end up with time to kill.

Schedule a Date Night

Date nights are a rarity for new parents, but if you ever make time to bond baby-free, do it on vacation. The excitement of being in a new place will help you forget your worries and connect like you did before having kids.

As Kindred Bravely points out, date night doesn’t have to mean dining at a romantic restaurant. If you’re eager to immerse yourself in the local culture, head to a sporting event together, plan a scenic hike, bike, or boat ride, or nurture your creative sides at a museum.

Make Time for Exercise

Hitting the gym seems like a waste of time when you’re traveling, but exercise is the cheapest stress relief out there. If your hotel doesn’t have a gym, go on a walk or run, or find a park where you can do yoga. Just don’t try to work out in your hotel room surrounded by kids, because you won’t be able to clear your mind. Put your spouse on parent duty and swap after your workout.

Family vacations might not be the stress-free getaways we enjoyed before kids, but we do it anyway. Partly to scratch our own travel itch, and partly because we know it’s good for the kids. However, just because it’s a family vacation doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself too. As you plan your next vacation, remember to make some time and space for you.

Blog Article by Leslie Campos.

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