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.
Do you love traveling, but hate the planning part? Are you tired of taking family trips that are just ok? Do you want to take a vacation your family will be talking about for years? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Today, I’m going to show you how to plan an amazing family vacation in 10 easy steps. This simple method for trip planning will get your family excited about your trip, while keeping you from getting overwhelmed by it all. So, let’s get started!
- Step #1: Decide on a location.
- Step #2: Determine your budget.
- Step #3: Do your research.
- Step #4: Pick your dates.
- Step #5: How will you get there?
- Step #6: Discuss must-do activities.
- Step #7: Pick a convenient place to stay.
- Step #8: How will you get around at your destination?
- Step #9: Make a list of must try restaurants.
- Step #10: Plan a splurge.
Step #1: Decide on a location.
The first step in planning an epic family vacation is to decide where to go. For some people, this will be a no-brainer. For others, it will be more challenging.
If you don’t have an immediate location in mind, talk to your family about where they would like to go. Pick a place that everyone can agree on. If you can’t agree, then put everyone’s preferred location into a hat and draw out a winner. Alternatively, you can vote on the two most popular destinations.
Regardless of how you decide, the important thing is to get everyone in the family on board with where you decide to go. The first step to having an amazing family vacation is to get everyone excited about where you’re going.
If someone in the family is not quite as excited as the others, find something about the trip to highlight to help lift their spirits or plan one aspect of the trip just to please them.
Step #2: Determine your budget.
Next, you need to determine the budget for your amazing vacation. This is important because it will help guide the rest of your trip planning decisions. Also, by giving yourself a budget and sticking to it, you will avoid getting stressed out by spending too much money on your trip.
Nothing will ruin a vacation or cause an argument faster than running out of money or being worried about how much you are spending. So, set your budget early and stick to it. Plus, this will allow you to know early on in the process how much you need to save up for the trip.
Step #3: Do your research.
After you set your budget, start doing some research. Now, I know that doing research can be a pain, but trust me, it is the key to improving your family vacations! The more research you do ahead of time, the better your trip will be.
Your destination and whether or not you have been there before will determine how much research you need to do.
You will continue to research your trip throughout the planning process. But, for now, start with a general overview of your destination to get an idea of what there is to do, how much things cost, how much time you will need to explore, and when the best time to visit is.
Later, you can focus on more specific aspects of your trip. Read blogs, look at Trip Advisor, talk to friends and family who have been to that location, watch YouTube videos, and read guide books.
Start a trip planner and jot down your findings. Make a list of things that interest your family. Make a note of how much things cost.
Wrap your head around the basics at this point so you can make better decisions as you go forward.
Step #4: Pick your dates.
The next step to plan a family vacation is to pick your dates. I know what you’re probably thinking: shouldn’t we have done that before researching? But, surprisingly, the answer is no. This is because doing some research can save you tons of money simply by showing you the prime dates to visit.
So, definitely research the best time to go (in terms of weather, crowds, and special events), but also check out the cheapest dates to travel. Then, pick the dates that will best suit your schedule and budget.
Step #5: How will you get there?
Now that we have the basics out of the way, it time to plan the fun stuff! First up is transportation to your destination. How are you going to get there? Will you be driving or flying?
If driving, will you be taking your own car or renting one for the trip? If you don’t trust your car, want to give your family more space while on the road, or just don’t want to put the extra miles on your vehicle, getting a rental car can be the perfect solution.
Once you’ve decided on what you will be driving, pick a convenient route and decide what time you are going to leave. Decide if you will make the drive all in one day or if you are going to split it up. If you will be stopping for the night, decide where you will stop and make a hotel reservation.
If, on the other hand, you are going to fly, then look at flights and buy your airline tickets. If you are looking for cheaper seats, see how to save money on airfare.
Step #6: Discuss must-do activities.
Remember when I told you earlier that the key to having an epic family vacation is getting everyone excited about your destination? Well, one way to do that is to discuss must-do activities with your family. Find out what they want to do.
Tell them about some of the things you have discovered in your research. Make a list of the top two or three must-do activities for each person in the family. If everyone wants to do the same things, great! If not, make sure you plan on doing at least one thing on each person’s list.
Go ahead and book as many of these must-do activities in advance of your trip as you can. This will lock them into your plans and may even save you time waiting in line later. And sometimes you can save money by booking tickets online.
Also, at this point, decide if you will all be sticking together during the entire trip or are you going to divide and conquer. If your husband and son want to play golf, but you and your daughter would prefer to go to the spa, split up and do both during the same time. This will allow you to do more during your trip and keep everyone happy.
Step #7: Pick a convenient place to stay.
When people ask me how to plan a family vacation everyone will love, I tell them to pick a destination that everyone can agree on and then spend as much time as possible having fun. A simple way to do this is to pick a convenient place to stay.
By planning what to do before you decide where to stay, you can minimize the time you spend getting from place to place and maximize the time you spend having fun. This will make it much easier to find a hotel or vacation home that works for your family because you can immediately narrow down where to stay.
Step #8: How will you get around at your destination?
Now that you know what you will be doing and where you will be staying, it’s time to figure out how you will get around while at your destination. Will you need to rent a car or can you take public transportation? Or better yet, will you be within walking distance to all of your planned activities?
Is there an alternative, yet fun, mode of transportation that you can take that will add to the experience? If you will be driving, be sure to look into parking options.
If you will only need a car for a portion of your trip, save yourself some money by renting one only for that portion or your trip. Then, you won’t have to worry about parking the rest of the time either.
Step #9: Make a list of must try restaurants.
The next step in the process to plan a family vacation that everyone will love is make a list of restaurants you want to try. Like with your activities, spend some time researching options. Look at their locations, prices, and menus.
Find places to eat that appeal to your whole family. Look for fun and delicious restaurants that have something for everyone. If you have younger kids, check to make sure the restaurants you are looking at have kids menus.
Make a note in your trip planner of these restaurants, their locations, hours, and contact information. This will save you the time and hassle of trying to find a place to eat at the last minute when everyone is cranky and hungry.
Step #10: Plan a splurge.
Lastly, to take your family vacation over the top, plan a splurge for your trip. Depending on your budget, this could be something as simple as getting a popular dessert one night or something as big as booking a private tour or staying in a fancy hotel. Whatever it is, choose something you normally wouldn’t pay to do.
The act of splurging on something gives your vacation a sense of being special. If possible, keep your splurge a secret and surprise your family with it during your trip. This will make it even more memorable for them.
Trip planning can be overwhelming for us all. But, it doesn’t have to be. And you don’t have to settle for mediocre trips. The above method will help you plan your family vacation in an organized and fun way.
I use these steps to successfully plan all of our family vacations. If they work for my family, I know they will work to make your family vacations epic too. Enjoy your next awesome vacation!
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!