Budgets are tight and families want to justify their spending, making sure that they’re getting everything they can out of their vacations. Take a look at the six tips I shared this morning on Let’s Talk Live in Washington, DC.
Taking time to volunteer while on vacation is a great way to re-connect as a family while helping those in need. If you’re going on a cruise, many lines these days, including Celebrity and Crystal Cruises, offer shore excursions where you and your kids can spend a few hours volunteering in a food bank or a homeless shelter, for example. If you’re planning a trip to the Caribbean, Central America or Mexico, check into Together for Good, which lists schools and orphanages in need of school supplies, diapers, baby clothes, etc. you can donate in-person.
Learn a New Language
If you want to get more out of a visit to a foreign country, look into language schools abroad with family programs. You can travel to Mexico, Italy, France, take classes, eat meals with local families and learn a new language as part of daily life in small town where few of the locals speak English. Many programs also take you out into the towns to learn more about what the local residents do, like tending to goat cheese farms or managing family-owned wineries in France, for example.
Embrace New Experiences
Step out of your comfort zone. Try new foods, new restaurants, new activities. It feels safe to go back to the same beach house every year, but try something new. One of my favorite books is 500 Places to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up and it’s full of museums, castles, caves, national parks that are worth visiting with your kids. I guarantee your kids will hold onto that memory of talking one-on-one with an astronaut at Kennedy Space Center or rescuing puffins in Iceland longer than the memory of riding the tallest roller coaster at the amusement park.
Look to Private Family Tours
If you’re going to a new city, look for tours designed just for families. Don’t be one of 20 or 30 people following a guide holding up a flag as he herds you around a museum. You, and especially your kids, won’t learn a thing. Tour operators, like Context Travel, for example, know that kids have limited attention spans and they design their tours to make them more fun for kids by incorporating scavenger hunts and lots of interactivity to keep kids engaged and active.
Travel During Off-Season
Right now is a great time to travel, up until Thanksgiving. There are fewer people, you can find cheaper airfares and the weather is still nice, so you actually get to sightsee, rather than fight the crowds and stand in line to try to sightsee. It’s a lot more laid back when you travel during the off-season, and it’s far more enjoyable for everyone, not to mention a whole lot less expensive.
I can’t stress this enough: give yourself and your kids a break. Don’t try to do 10 museums in two days. Seriously, you might be in the most amazing place with so many amazing things to see, but if you don’t schedule downtime, like naps, you won’t have a good time. A friend told me recently, “You’re only as happy as your crankiest child” and it’s so true.
Do you have any great tips for making the most of a family vacation? Let me know in the comments below. And if you got a chance to catch me on Let’s Talk Live, let me know what you thought!
Photo Credit: Photo Twister
Disclaimer: This post contains a link to an affiliate. However, the views and opinions expressed in this blog post are purely my own.