Visiting family as a vacation can be anything but relaxing. We love visiting family, but we often end up far more tired after our “restful” vacation time than we were before we headed out. Our vacations back home consist of visiting house after house and planned event after planned event so we never get to fully enjoy everything. This time we tried something a little different so I’m sharing my tips for a less stressful vacation.
Usually for vacation you have a few activities planned so you know what you will be doing and you fit in everything you want to before heading back home. While being organized can be very helpful in getting things done, it can also add extra stress so this time we decided to just go with the flow. While our family wanted to know our schedule ahead of time, being unplanned has helped us to really enjoy more and stress less.
Of course, being under the weather most of our vacation so far has helped to stay unplanned, but we have been trying to let each day plan itself. No alarms. No obligations. Just family time and fun. We may not get everything done, but we will have enjoyed vacation as it was supposed to be enjoyed.
Below you will find my top 10 tips for a stress-less vacation visiting family:
1. Come prepared. From diapers to snacks to proper clothing, make sure you have everything you need before you head on vacation. I always write a list as I think of things and after I use items every day starting from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep. If we have everything we need, we don’t have to worry about going without something we forgot or making trips to the store. Things like baby gates and toys, extra blankets, and shoes for multiple occasions are what we often forget about the most so they are the first items to be added to my list.
2. Bring along anything that will help you get a better night’s rest. I always bring my special pillow with me because I sleep better and have less neck pain in the morning than with other pillows. My son and husband always bring a favorite blanket. Good sleep is important to a stress-free trip, so make this a priority.
3. Go with the flow. You can schedule a few things, but for the most part just enjoy your time.
4. If you have multiple families to visit, try to split the time evenly. If you do this you will not miss out on one side of your family. We have a handful of houses we visit on both my husband’s side and my side of the family when we travel back home, so our trips consist of three or four short visits. Usually each has a larger family gathering then the rest is downtime.
5. Don’t set an alarm unless you have to. Now, I’m not saying waste the day away, but don’t force yourself to get up like you do for work. This is your vacation; you will probably be staying up a little later than usual and this is a great time to catch a little extra sleep. If you have little ones, you will probably be up bright and early anyway so why set an alarm?
6. Plan time with just yourself, your spouse, and your kids. While it is great to visit your extended family, you should take a day or two for just your immediate family to bond. Whether it is a trip to the local zoo, strawberry picking, or a factory tour, find something local to your hometown that the whole family will enjoy and learn from. Take your kids to do things you used to do growing up. Where we live now, there are not as many opportunities to do the fun activities I did growing up, so visiting back home is a great time to do something special with your children. This trip, our son tried fishing, shooting a rifle, eating kringle, making s’mores, and that’s just the start. We are planning a trip to the lake as well so he can swim and ride on the boat.
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7. Get some quality couple time. You’re visiting family, right? Leave the kids with your relatives! Even if it is just for a quick trip to dinner, a little time alone with your spouse is important and something you may not get on the average day. Where we live, we never have date night so visiting family back home is a prime time to make it a priority and your family will enjoy the quality time with the kids.
8. Eat home-cooked food. Going out to eat may be easy, and sometimes it is fun to visit restaurants you grew up enjoying (for us it is Culver’s,) but eat as many homemade meals as you can. Not only is this healthier, but it is also nostalgic enjoying meals you grew up eating and sharing those traditions with your kids.
9. Get outside. Fresh air is something you should enjoy on every vacation. In the everyday hustle and bustle, sometimes you are too busy to get out and enjoy the beauty of nature so take the time on vacation. For you it may be going on a hike, fishing on the lake, heading out to the park or playing sports with your family. Whatever it is, make time every day if you can.
10. Limit electronic usage. In the age of smartphones, laptops, and tablets, it is so easy to get wrapped up in devices when you have down time. I am not saying do not use them at all, because you may have to; we use our GPS to get around, phones to take pictures, get important notifications, and do quick research. What I am encouraging you to do is to put your games and unnecessary work on hold. If you get bored, instead of pulling out your phone to play Words With Friends, as fun as it may be, grab out the real thing, Scrabble, and play it with your family!
As a military family, we try to visit “home” as often as we can. With these tips, our current vacation has been the most stress-free vacation yet. We usually plan everything ahead of time and our schedule is jam-packed, so this vacation has been a breath of fresh air.
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-Do you take vacations to see family? What are some of your tips for making your trip less stressful?