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Tips for Making Vacation Memories with Your Family

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A few months ago, I was visiting with some friends about our children and how quickly they are growing up. One of them mentioned something she had recently heard along the lines of —

“You really only have 18 winter breaks from school or summer vacations with your child.”

These words have stuck in my head, especially since my son is now 10 years old. In eight years, he will be away at college and it is highly likely that summer vacation with the “fam” could be the last thing he wants to do.

For the record, I’m already scheming to make sure that he ALWAYS wants to hang out with us. Besides bribery, one of the big ways that I can assure my scheme works is to make sure that our family vacations and events are packed full of fun memories. Here are some suggestions to make sure everyone has a great time and your family vacations are successful.


What does it mean to relax on vacation and how can you do it? Simply close your eyes, take a deep breath and think about how much fun you want to have with your family. Now, put a big smile on your face, open your eyes and make it happen.

When you are traveling, you will have the opportunity to meet people from other areas. Remember, everyone doesn’t do things exactly the way you do. Remember to be patient, and when you slow down and relax you will be able to make sure that everyone has a great time. It’s an unwritten law that when you travel, something usually doesn’t go the way you planned it. But if you remember the ultimate goal is making memories with your family and you find a way to relax, those interruptions will not interfere with your fabulous vacation.

Become “Unplugged”

I admit, I’m one of those moms, the “Smart Phone Moms.” Between my job, blogging, taking pictures and keeping up with family activities, it seems my phone is in my hands as much as it isn’t. That really is not what I want my family to remember about me. I want them to know that I was able to run and splash in the waves, do an incredible cannonball and participate in the water balloon toss at the Kid’s Club. It’s real simple, “Step away from the phone” and know that the world will make it a while, without you being “connected.”

Take Pictures

Take lots of pictures. Let me rephrase that, take lots of pictures that have YOU and your family in them. While pictures of scenery are nice, they would be nicer if they included your family in them. When your children get older, pictures of mountains might get tossed to the side, but they will certainly smile when they see pictures of your family together.

I went through a phase where I didn’t want to be in pictures, I had every excuse to not be. I didn’t like my hair, I didn’t like my leftover baby weight or my clothes did not match. One day I realized that my son has unconditional love for me and he deserved to be able to look back one day and see us as a family in these pictures. My dad passed away a couple of years ago; those pictures of my parents playing in the swimming pool with me are priceless. Remember that, the next time you try to hide from the camera.

Go With the Flow

What do cancelled flights, tropical storms and snow blizzards have in common? They can all alter even the best made vacation plans. My husband had spent months planning our engagement. It included a surprise trip to the mountains and a dinner cruise along a scenic shoreline where he planned to drop down to one knee, tell me how wonderful I am and how he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. All was going according to plan until the ski village we were visiting was hit with a winter blizzard. The boat was frozen to the shore, roads were closed, restaurants had shut down and our fine dining options were reduced to enjoying the only open “convenience” store in the area. He went with the flow and that night taught me a valuable lesson. Even being bundled up like a mummy to stay warm and eating a bag of sour cream potato chips for dinner, none of that changed one of the most spectacular moments of my life.

I was able to use that same learning experience when a three day torrential downpour tried to interrupt a recent vacation with my family. Instead of allowing it to ruin happy memories, we played cards, enjoyed the hot tub in a downpour of rain, simply enjoyed “Going with the flow.”

Be a Kid

At what point in our life do we forget how to play? On our recent trip to Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, families were looking for shells, catching waves and simply enjoying each other. Just listening to the laughter along the beach made me smile and reminded me why we were there. Most importantly, watch your kids play and imagine the world through their eyes. Your biggest worry should be how to determine the optimum sand and water ratio when considering how to construct a massive sand castle.

Involve Everyone

When you are planning your vacation and once you arrive at your destination, make sure you listen to everyone and try to include things that they want to do. While my husband loves relaxing in his beach chair and listening to his favorite music, he also knows it’s just as important to build sand castles and wrestle the inflatable alligator with our little boy. Flexibility is a very important aspect of a successful family vacation, you may be in a hurry to get somewhere, but when you hear the ice cream truck and your son gets excited, time stands still.

Take the time ahead of your next trip to think about the tips that I have mentioned and you will be sure to come home with more than surf shop souvenirs.

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Marti resides in rural northeastern Oklahoma where she works with corporate, association, and government clients as a meeting planner. She enjoys traveling, whenever possible, with her husband,…

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