Any links in this post to a merchant may contain an affiliate link, which means that if you click on that link and then buy something, I may earn a commission from it. However, all opinions in this link are 100% mine and 100% honest. If I didn't believe in a particular product, I wouldn't recommend it to you.
Have you ever come home from vacation disappointed because it didn’t live up to your expectations? Ever been too stressed out during a trip to even enjoy it? To prevent this from happening again, here are 10 common mistakes to avoid on your next family vacation!
I can’t tell you how many times I have come home from a family vacation feeling deflated because it wasn’t as good as I had hoped it would be. Usually, when this happens, it’s because I made one or more of these mistakes.
- Mistake #1: Overscheduling Your Days
- Mistake #2: Not Giving Your Family Any Down Time
- Mistake #3: Forgetting to Let Your Kids Play
- Mistake #4: Not Checking the Weather
- Mistake #5: Not Researching Restaurants
- Mistake #6: Cutting It Too Close at the Airport
- Mistake #7: Poor Time Management on Road Trips
- Mistake #8: Forgetting to Pack Something
- Mistake #9: Not Paying Attention to Your Family’s Personalities
- Mistake #10: Not Going With the Flow
Mistake #1: Overscheduling Your Days
The biggest culprit ruining family vacations is overscheduling. When you try to cram too many things into your trips, you end up with cranky kids and exhausted adults. And usually, you end up feeling like the trip was a failure.
On our first trip to Disney World, I tried so hard to do it all. I spent the whole time rushing my family from one thing to the next. I was so focused on checking things off the list that I didn’t really enjoy any of it. And, by the last day, we were all so tired that we were at each other’s throats.
Instead of trying to do everything possible, make a list of your family’s must-do activities. Try to limit yourself to no more than three activities per day. This will allow you to have fun without feeling like you are pressed for time.
If there are more things that you want to do than you have time for, save them for another trip. This is a great excuse to go back again!
Mistake #2: Not Giving Your Family Any Down Time
Next on my list of the common mistakes to avoid on your next family vacation is not giving your family any down time. This goes hand in hand with overscheduling your days.
To allow everyone to rest and relax some while traveling, build in some down time. Allow your kids to sit and watch television or play games. Let everyone sleep in some days. Schedule some time to chill at the pool.
Allow your family (and yourself) to unwind while on vacation. This will enable you all to have a better trip and come home feeling like you actually had a vacation!
Mistake #3: Forgetting to Let Your Kids Play
Another mistake that leads to less than stellar vacations is forgetting to let your kids play during your trip. Sometimes, we forget that kids need to be kids every once in a while.
We get so caught up in showing them the sights and exposing them to new things that we forget to allow them to just play and run around freely.
To avoid this mistake on your next trip, take your kids to a park or playground. Let them play around in the pool or on the beach. Give them some time to run around in the yard of your vacation home.
If you take some time to let them burn off their excess energy, you will find that they are much more cooperative with you when it is time to visit a museum, wait in line, or sit still at a nice restaurant.
Mistake #4: Not Checking the Weather
Another mistake that can lead to disastrous vacations is not checking the weather for your destination before leaving home.
If you encounter weather that you were not expecting, you may be ill prepared for it. This can leave you feeling miserable. It can also make you not want to go outside and do anything.
So, to better prepare for your trip, be sure to check the weather before you start packing for your trip. This will guide you on what clothes to pack so you will be ready to tackle whatever comes your way.
Check out my tips to prevent bad weather from ruining your trip in the event the weather takes a turn for the worse while you are on vacation.
Mistake #5: Not Researching Restaurants
Next on the list of mistakes to avoid on your next family vacation is not researching restaurants. This is another mistake that people commonly make during the trip planning process.
Over the years, I have found that when I take the time to research restaurants in our destination, we eat so much better. When I skip this step of my trip planning, we end up settling on whatever food we can find when we get hungry.
Take some time before you leave home to make a list of restaurants your family will enjoy. Then, when you get hungry on vacation, pull out your list and choose one of them to try.
This will allow you to try some of the best local restaurants in your vacation location.
Mistake #6: Cutting It Too Close at the Airport
Another mistake that can cause a lot of unnecessary stress is not arriving at the airport soon enough.
If you get to the airport too close to your departure time, you risk missing your flight. Even if you make it to the gate in time, you will stress yourself out which will have a negative impact on the rest of your vacation.
So, start your vacation off on the right foot by giving yourself more than enough time to get to the airport. Assume there will be long lines at the check in counter and at security. Then, you can navigate the airport in a relaxed manner.
Not only will this keep you relaxed, but it will also keep the rest of your family calm as you make your way to your departing gate.
Mistake #7: Poor Time Management on Road Trips
If you prefer road trips over flying, there are some mistakes that you need to avoid on those trips too. The biggest one is poor time management.
Plan your road trip poorly and you will find yourself stuck in rush hour traffic in the middle of a city. Leave too late and you will be rushed to arrive on time.
To prevent arriving late, check to see how long it will take to drive to your destination. Then give yourself an extra hour or two for stops.
In order to avoid rush hour, plan out your route. Think about how long it will take you to reach any cities you need to drive through. Plan to leave home and plan your stops so you can avoid rush hour in those cities. Alternatively, change your route to avoid going through those cities all together.
Mistake #8: Forgetting to Pack Something
The eighth mistake to avoid on your next family vacation is forgetting to pack something that you need for your trip.
On our honeymoon, my husband forgot to pack his sneakers. We ended up spending half a day in a shoe store to buy him some new ones. This simple mistake cost us a half day of sightseeing.
So, how exactly can you avoid this? Use a packing list! A packing list will remind you of everything you need for your trip.
Whenever I get lazy and skip the packing list, I always forget to pack something! But this never happens when I use my packing list.
I recommend creating a family packing list that can be used for any and every trip possible. Save it to your computer. Then, when you get ready to pack, print it off. Cross off anything that you won’t need for this particular trip. And start packing!
Mistake #9: Not Paying Attention to Your Family’s Personalities
One of the biggest mistakes that can ruin your family vacations is not paying attention to your family’s personalities.
Don’t try to create some so-called perfect vacation that you see in the movies or on social media. Plan (and have) the vacation that is perfect for your family.
Plan things that your family want to do or are interested in. Go eat food that your family enjoys. Travel in a way that makes your family comfortable.
If your kids prefer sports to art, spend your vacation time going to ball games instead of art museums. Do you have young kids that have trouble sitting still? Then avoid Broadway shows and fancy restaurants. Go to children’s museums and parks instead.
Work with your family’s personalities and interests instead of against them. This one thing will greatly improve your family vacations more than anything else.
Mistake #10: Not Going With the Flow
Last on my list of mistakes to avoid on your next family vacation is not going with the flow. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned on vacations. Sometimes, you run into unexpected obstacles.
When this happens, you have to be able to adapt. Being flexible will help you have a great time even if your plans get completely messed up.
Remember, the purpose of family vacations is to spend quality time with your family making memories. As long as you stay calm and go with the flow, you will have an amazing vacation regardless of what happens.
Just enjoy your family and the time you have together and have fun!
We all look forward to our vacations, but they sometimes don’t live up to our expectations. Usually, this is because of mistakes that we make along the way. Be sure to avoid these mistakes on your next family vacation.
For more trip planning tips, see how to take an amazing vacation on any budget, how to plan an epic vacation, and my ultimate guide to travel with kids. Also see my tips to improve your family vacations.
P.S. Need help finding the best places to go on your family vacations? My Ultimate USA Bucket List for Families will instantly give you 60 of the best vacation destinations for families in the United States! Get it for FREE in the box below and start planning your next trip today! Plus, as a bonus, you will receive my weekly email newsletter full of family trip tips and inspiration!