This is the 1st post in a Step-by-Step Guide to Planning the Perfect Family Trip. Subscribe to join the challenge and plan your own dream family getaway!
First things first. Why do you want to travel?
I know that’s a big question, but it’s an important one. Because in order to plan a successful trip, you need to be very clear on what you expect to get out of it.
Travel is a big expense, there’s no getting around it. It’s one of the main reasons so many of us neglect traveling for so long. Nobody wants to spend a bunch of money on a family trip, only to be disappointed in the end.
But family travel is what you make of it, and as long as you go into it with the right mindset, you’ll never have to worry about whether or not it was worth it. You’ll know it always is!
Setting Family Travel Goals
So let’s take a moment and think about your goals for this trip. Do you simply want to relax? Are you wanting to have more time together as a family? Do you want your kids to experience a new culture? Whatever it is (and it can be more than one thing), write it down. I’ve put together a little trip brainstorming worksheet that will help you keep track of these ideas and remind you of your goals while you’re planning!
Next think about what your ideal vacation looks like. Is it somewhere warm and tropical? An urban city? Outdoors in nature? How does your ideal vacation align with your goals? (for example, if you’re wanting to experience something new culturally, a trip to a nearby city probably isn’t going to do it for you). Be thinking of a few cities or places that line up with your travel goals and ideal vacation, and hold on to them for the next step.
Setting Family Travel Expectations
Just as important, this is also the time to set your expectations for this trip, especially if this is your first time traveling with little ones. Traveling with kids is not easy, and there will be times (many times) where you will feel frustrated. After all, you’ve spent a lot of money to travel, your kids better be happy all the time, right?
But you know as a parent that it just doesn’t work like that. Let’s be real, you’re probably going to have at least one bad day (Lord knows, we have). The trick is knowing how to look past those bad days in favor of the good.
I would argue you can make any city “kid-friendly”, but there are a few other factors to consider when setting expectations for your trip:
How long will this trip will be? Are you looking to do a long weekend close to home or a week or two abroad? Understand that you won’t be able to pack in as much as you did when you were traveling kid-less. You may need to either extend your trip a few more days, or cut out some key sights that you just won’t have time for. This will all play into your budget too, so decide which method you’ll aim for to make everything fit.
When will you go? Can you travel in the off-season to save money? Or will you need to go in the summer to accommodate your kids’ school schedules? Are you willing to stay in cheaper accommodations, make your trip shorter, or save more each week to make up for the added expense of traveling during the high season? Or would you rather take the kids out of school to travel in the low season?
What are you willing to sacrifice? No, I don’t mean giving up a latte a day to pay for your travels. I mean, which parts of travel are you willing to sacrifice to make traveling with kids work? That might mean skipping the museums, eating at more casual restaurants, slowing your pace…or maybe a little of each. Finding compromises will help everyone in the family have a better trip!
If you’re willing to stay flexible and change up your routine a little bit, you can absolutely make any destination work with kids. Heck, if this mama can take her 3 little kids to Machu Picchu, you can go anywhere!
Hold on tight to your ideas. We’ll take a little deeper look next week and narrow down the perfect destination!
Now tell me, how have your expectations changed since you started traveling with kids?
Check out the full step-by-step guide:
Step 1 // Setting Goals & Expectations
Step 2 // How to Decide Where to Go
Step 3 // How to Start Saving for Travel
Step 4 // How to Find Unique Things to Do
Step 5 // Using Google Maps to Plan Your Trip
Step 6 // How to Create the Perfect Itinerary
Step 7 // How to Build a Travel Budget
Step 8 // How to Save Big When Booking Travel