Summer is peak vacation season for most families. In this fast-paced world, filled with a multitude of electronic devices, it can be challenging to keep your family focused during a vacation. I learned a few lessons during a recent family vacation and wanted to share them. Here are some tips to eliminate distractions and keep everyone on the same page...and happy!
1. Ditch the electronics. We allow the video systems and MP3 players on the airplane, train or car. Once we get to our destination, those things get packed until we are ready to leave.
2. Keep cellphone/smart phones and laptop usage to a minimum. I understand that my husband needs to check in each day. As an executive, it is important for him to keep his pulse on what’s going on back at the office. Schedule certain times of the day when laptops and smart phones are permitted. Otherwise, it gets out of control and you never get out the door.
3. Take lots of video and photos, but don’t let the cameras control you. I’m an avid photo taker, but I recognize that I’m a puppet on a string with my camera. It will rule you if you let it. Put it down to enjoy time with your family.
4. Keep the TV off. Period.
5. Take advantage of kids’ programs. They offer a taste of the local scenery and more often than not, are educational. Why not throw in some learning with all the fun? Most resorts offer a variety of children's programs for all ages.
6. Don’t overschedule your time. Everyone needs some downtime to relax by the pool, on the beach or curl up on the patio with a book or magazine.
7. Ask the kids to do some of the planning. Allow them to choose a special meal out or a sunset walk or cruise.
8. Bring travel board games, puzzles, and coloring books for the kids (and yourself). These games, unlike handheld electronics, offer enjoyment for the entire family. One of our most memorable moments from a recent vacation is the rainy day spent putting together Strawberry Shortcake puzzles!
9. Allow everyone time to enjoy his or her personal activities. No one likes being forced to participate in an activity that he/she doesn’t enjoy. Encourage individual participation, and everyone will be satisfied.
10. At the end of your vacation, recap your favorite and funniest moments. We like to do this during our last vacation meal. I grab a pen and some paper and note every one’s favorites. It’s fun to take a look back six months or even a year later.
If it’s impossible to implement all of these suggestions, start small and aim for 3 or 4. It’s a step in the right direction, and at the end of your vacation, every member of the family will be glad you did!