Short or long, in the country or overseas, family trips are always fun and exciting. They can also be fussy and stressful but if you plan carefully in advance, get organised and practise mindfulness on your trip, unwanted situations can be avoided and instead of ending up overwhelmed and exhausted, you’ll have unforgettable memories of good times shared.
Here are several tips to try on your next family vacation to ensure some quality family bonding.
Packing is one of the first steps to take but most families tend to leave it at the last moment which is when the chaos starts. You need to take time away from your work and house chores to get the kids packed and it’s often done in a rush. You should do it at least a day in advance and approach it mindfully, with a pause and ease balancing out the wants and needs of everyone. With everything ready one day ahead, you can be relaxed and prepared to enjoy a change of scenery and your daily routine.
Letting go of control
When you plan your family trip, you want to feel in control but there are things you can’t affect. For instance, the weather is unpredictable, schedules are changeable and some sights and attractions might be closed for the day and you can’t really do anything about it.
This is why you need to learn how to let go of control or you’ll lose your mind stressing over it. For most people, uncertainty causes anxiety, but you need to accept the reality and make the most of what you’ve got at that moment. Create a back-up list of things you can do instead of planned activities and find the funny side of your current situation.
Be more flexible when it comes to food as well. Everybody knows calories don’t matter when you’re on vacation so focus more on the taste of food, varied sensations in the mouth and the difference in textures and help your kids notice that and enjoy it. Especially if you travel abroad away from the familiarity of New Zealand, your family will be able to experience different smells and tastes of the local cuisine.
Living in the moment
Your children will probably be on their devices most of the time and it might be difficult to get them to chuck them aside and embrace what’s happening around, but do try. It’ll be worth it to challenge them to experience something new in person. Teach them to notice little things like colours, smells, sounds and all the other things they don’t usually pay attention to.
Another way of living in the moment actually includes electronic gadgets. Being a big part of modern lives, you can’t really ignore them, so if you can’t beat them, join them! Sit with your kids and let them show you what it is that they’re currently watching or playing and do it together.
The art of getting along
Even though New Zealand families travel often, kids tend to get restless and nervous being strapped in the backseat for a longer period of time so make plans before you go to make it easier on everyone. Make sure they have enough room in the back and if your vehicle seems to be too tight, consider getting a reliable truck rental in Auckland and hire a bigger vehicle to accommodate everyone and all the car games and toys you plan to bring.
To ensure everyone gets along on a long trip, schedule frequent breaks so everyone can stretch their legs, go to the bathroom, take a stroll and just breathe some fresh air. Even if you choose the plane instead of your car, an occasional walk through the aisles can help in relieving tension.
Give everyone some room to breathe
It’ certainly important to spend time together as a family on your vacation, bond and create wonderful new memories, but it’s also crucial, for everyone’s sanity, to just do your own thing and recharge the batteries for the next big adventure that comes along the way.
For instance, it’s a perfect moment to catch up on some reading – remember those books pining away in the dark since the time your kids were born? Read them now as you let go of the parent guilt for leaving your kids with the hotel babysitter so you could catch some quiet time. It is a family vacation but everyone will be better off with a mom or dad who’s relaxed and smiling.
Family holidays are a special time in the life of every family as this is when you can give them your undivided attention without worrying about work or household chores, but this doesn’t mean it has to 100% of the time. Just like you, kids need room to breathe as well. They will know you’re around, but they will also cherish memories of playing by the hotel pool with a random kid from another state or even another country, maybe even more than remembering where that hotel was or what landmark you visited.
Much like giving everyone room to breathe, another key to a successful family vacation is allowing for downtime. If you plan a busy itinerary with too many activities and no breaks, the kids will be tired and overwhelmed and incapable of having any fun. Everyone is much more relaxed and happier when there’s time for snuggling in the bed a bit longer in the morning, lounging by the pool or just strolling in the local park. Kids will look forward to times without any rules and restrictions. You’re already pushing everyone out of their comfort zones so let them just have moments to simply hang out.
If you can keep it together enough to laugh when things go south, use the time at hand to notice unusual things, listen to new languages and exchange thoughts, you’re already winning! It’s all about focusing on your family, deepening your bonds, doing what you enjoy and creating unforgettable memories.