Imagine a vacation filled with fun and laughter, unforgettable adventures, and many cherished memories that will be embedded into the hearts of everyone forever. A vacation that will surpass all others will be one for the books. But, like the others, it would require careful planning.
Some will stay in the United States, opting for road trip exploration. Others will be looking at exotic, far-flung getaways to explore different countries and cultures. But whether families are vacationing by ground, air or sea – one thing is certain:
2022 was the year of the GOAT – “Greatest of All Family Trips” per Expedia and
Expedia Group Calls 2023 the Year of the “No-Normal”
In fact, American Express survey this past Fall highlighted that 68% of consumers were happy to forego gift exchanges with their family to go on a vacation with them instead, and more than half of parents surveyed said they would book a trip even if they might have to cancel or modify it later.
But before you start planning your next big family vacation, it’s important to look at what has changed – and what has stayed the same – when it comes to family travel.
1 – COVID travel tips
While much of the US is “green” per the CDC (meaning masks are no longer required indoor), there will likely be places you visit where visitors are still asked to wear masks, and of course mask regulations are still active on planes. Many young children – and lots of adults – struggle when wearing masks for long stretches of time. Glasses get foggy, ears get sore, and masks slide up and down. Be sure to take time to find masks that fit comfortably.
Many parents have turned to adjustable lanyards like this one which allow kids to keep their masks close even when not worn, and which can take the pressure of a child’s ears. And they work for grown-ups too!
2 – Pandemic puppies!
So many families took the pet plunge over COVID – bringing furry friends into their homes to help make lockdown more fun and memorable. If you want to travel with your new fur baby, you need to ensure the hotels you choose allow pets, and be sure to plan a trip to a pet-friendly destination where little Rover can join you as you head to the beach or pool, or even when you are grabbing lunch or dinner.
Be sure you have all the travel essentials for your pup – including a way to ensure he stays hydrated while on walks. Spleash® is a fun new all-in-one dog leash handle that attaches to your favorite leash, and you can quickly refresh your pet with a squeeze of your finger without having to grab or carry anything other than your leash. It holds up to 12 oz of fresh drinking water and it provides a great defense against off-leash animals approaching, with a 14-foot spray distance!
3 – Self-care
Many parents are taking a little extra time to ensure they include a little self-care in their family vacations. When looking at hotels or resorts, perhaps consider one that has a kids’ club that allows time for grown-up massages or spa treatments. If not, parents could each take turns having a special Spa Day during their trip. It is so important for parents to take time to recharge! If you can’t book a spa treatment, pack one along with you – like these massagers from Spice of Life.
You may even request to have the masseuse visit you in the room. It won’t offer the same serene experience, but you won’t have to worry about the kids.
4 – TSA Pre-check/CLEAR
Even when traveling solo, the security line at the airport could be an unpredictable point of stress. Shoes and belts have to be removed; electronics have to come out of bags; and kids definitely get impatient. Consider applying for services that allow you to cruise through airport security. When you have been TSA Prechecked, you need not remove shoes, belts, laptops, liquids, and light jackets, providing a smoother screening process for those flying solo or with children. In addition to the TSA Precheck, CLEAR is a fairly new airport security system which is an expedited way to enter the security lanes at many major airports. CLEAR members scan their iris as well as boarding pass to proceed directly to the front of any security queues. For more information about these, visit TSA PreCheck or Clear Me.
5 – Get The Perfect Accommodation
The best accommodation will be your family’s home away from home. A comfortable accommodation doesn’t have to burn a deep hole in your pocket. Research places beyond hotels and resorts. Even vacation rentals can offer a hotel-like experience and will have amenities rivaling those of five-star resorts. All you need to do is spend a few minutes doing an internet search.
You may look for them in travel booking apps. Just make sure to scour through reviews, and if your guts say no, please listen. Thoroughly check the uploaded photos and message the owner with any queries you want to be answered.
6 – Keep the kids entertained
Whether you haven’t been away for years, or you travel regularly, one constant is that engaged and entertained kids are far happier than those who are bored. Cranky children can easily ruin the family vacation vibe. We recommend always having easy travel activities on hand to keep kids of all ages occupied.
One mom recently shared a story about how she went to the dollar store and purchased various items for her four kids – age 2, 6, 7 and 8. She wrapped them as gifts and every hour on the plane, each child received a new gift to unwrap. It didn’t cost much – and the reward was massive. Four very entertained kids who did not ask “How much longer? Are we there yet?” every five minutes. Instead, they eagerly awaited each passing hour and wished the flight was longer. Melissa & Doug has some amazing, easy travel activities and games.
Many parents also pack pintables so kids can solve puzzles and math activities while waiting. It’s better than giving them electronics and is very educational. They can even keep up with their math lessons.
7 – Be flexible
All the planning in the world can’t foresee an unexpected COVID outbreak (or other illness), or flight delays. It is critical when planning family travel to know going in that there will likely be changes to the plans along the way. Learn how to roll with it. And perhaps have multiple backup and contingency plans so when bumps in the road (or in the air) occur, you’ll feel more secure.
Since most families function better with organization, and planning a successful family getaway can be a seemingly overwhelming task, manypeople turn to travel planning apps. The right app can truly take the stress and anxiety out of your next family trip.
One such app that allows you to plan, store, and share all things trip-related in one easy and aesthetically pleasing place is Bublup.
Bublup allows you to beautifully and seamlessly save links, documents, notes, videos, photos, GIFs, music, and more with customizable pictures, titles, and descriptions for at-a-glance navigation. With unlimited folders (and subfolders), your organization opportunities are infinite, and it always looks good no matter what you are collecting.
While all of your folders are private by default, users can invite friends and family to share folders making them collaborative, or roll your folders into instant web pages that you can easily customize with a few clicks and share anywhere! So if you’re planning a large family reunion on a cruise or organizing a small family getaway to the Grand Canyon, you can plan it all – and include pictures, videos, hotel links, airline info, and more. You can invite others to collaborate with you or you can plan it all yourself and then take your folder and almost instantly “roll” it into an attractive, easy-to-share, easy-to-read web site – and then send it to the entire group! It is fun and easy to use and plans range from free – $9.99/month.
It’s been said that “Traveling in the company of those we love is home in motion.”