When you’re planning a family holiday it can often feel like you need a holiday before you even leave the house!
As a frequent jetsetter, I know what it’s like. Mount Everest-sized mountains of washing. Never-ending shopping lists. Toddler (and teenager) tantrums. (No you can’t take 6 stuffed toys or 16 changes of clothes!) It can be tricky to see a clear path out of your house sometimes.
If you’re planning a family holiday but aren’t sure where to start, and it all feels a little overwhelming, I have four simples tips to make sure you’re set for a stress-free family holiday.
By organising as much as I can in advance I can enjoy the days without worrying what to do. I’ve been planning my own family holiday to Canada and the US for months now and have learned a few things along the way that I’d love to share with you – so grab a cuppa and get ready to jot down some notes.
You may not be a crazy list person (like me!) but when it comes to planning a trip, let me tell you, lists are simply non-negotiable.
So here’s a tick-and-flick list to get you started:
// STEP 1. PLAN THE BASICS
Work out your budget
The first thing that you need to figure out is your budget! Maybe it’s time to splurge and spoil the family or perhaps take a quick getaway that doesn’t break the bank! Go through your accounts and write out your holiday budget – whether it be an estimation on expenditure per day or a total figure. Here’s a list of budgeting apps that may help you with this!
Choose destination & travel dates
Once these figures are worked out it’s time to look at your family’s schedule and figure out the best time to go – easy for me as everything is on the Life Sorted App so a quick scan is all that is necessary! My family usually vacay in the Chrissy holidays – we’re about set off for a white Christmas this year and are BEYOND excited! If you’re having trouble pinpointing a destination jump onto Pinterest or visit your local travel agent (Yes, they still exist!) for some travel inspo.
Book the essentials
WOO we’re finally making some progress! So hopefully by now you’ve decided on a destination, it’s time to book and give that little credit card a work out! Start by booking the main priorities in order – flights, accommodation and transport/car-hire. I love a good deal so we use a combination of hotels and Airbnb when on holiday. Now that the basics are planned it’s time to flesh out the details of the trip.
//STEP 2. PLAN THE DETAILS – FROM A-Z!
Travelling with the family can be stressful, especially if the kids feel left out, or that they’re being dragged from pillar to post with no fun-for-kids along the way. Include each family member in the planning process and pre-book as much as possible – or nothing if you just want to lie on the beach. We’ve held several ‘family meetings’ to chat about the things we want to see and do on our upcoming trip. Perhaps the kids want adventurous, hands-on activities, your partner wants to catch a football game and you want to try all those great restaurants that have been recommended to you. When the whole family is involved and everyone gets the opportunity to create and experience what they want, the potential for bad moods, grizzling, boredom and fights decreases. Having trouble planning activities and things to-do for your trip? Jump onto Tripadvisor and search top attractions and restaurants at your destination. I love reading reviews – they better prepare us for what to expect! A rule of thumb when organising my family holiday is I have one busy day jam-packed full of activities, followed by a quiet day where the family can revel in downtime and won’t feel guilty leaving the hotel until midday!
You can use the Life Sorted App during the planning process to map things out. Add everyone’s ideas into the app, and once they’re booked or a day is chosen for each activity, move them to Life Sorted Calendar events. I have just booked us all to do the zipline at Grouse Mountain when we are in Vancouver, I popped all the details into Life Sorted and then notified all the family via a chat message. They are super-excited, I on the other hand, am petrified (stay tuned to see my terrified mug on IG stories @lifesorted).
FYI there are some great blog posts that explore ways to balance your children’s and your own needs into your holiday and reduce your stress. Bookmark some for later reading, like Magnets From Everywhere, Going Where the Wind Blows and Adventures In Family Travel.
// STEP 3. PACKING – ONLY THE BARE ESSENTIALS!
I try to declutter all areas of my life, so when packing my suitcase I naturally take the same approach. Firstly you must find out what the weather will be like throughout the trip to pack accordingly. If you’re travelling between countries or climates you might think you have to pack double the amount, but a great trick is to simply pack layers so you can put on and peel off as necessary. One dress, one cardigan, one pair of jeans, and a few shirts can last you a week or more in kinder climates.
To get the most out of your suitcase the Konmari method of folding clothes can be applied when packing to maximize your space. You won’t regret having neat and organised suitcases! Avoid falling into the trap of thinking you must pack for every possible ‘just-in-case’ situation. In fact, seasoned travelers advise against it, and instead recommend packing only what you know you’ll be needing. Some say that 20% of what you pack will be 80% of what you wear. I don’t know about you, but when I think back on my previous trips, I’ve always overpacked and come home with several unused items. On this trip, I’m packing only what I know I’ll need. I like to use lists on the Life Sorted App so that I can check off each item in my suitcase to avoid forgetting any necessities. I’d freak if I forgot my thermals for this upcoming trip! If you’re looking for more info to minimise your packing, check out this informative article from MammaMia!
// STEP 4. ORGANISE YOUR FAMILY HOLIDAY WITH LIFE SORTED
Sometimes I think that no matter what you need in life, there’s an app for that! Granted, not all are that fabulous and not all meet your needs, but Life Sorted has definitely streamlined my holiday planning (if I do say so myself!) It has been invaluable in bonding my family over our upcoming holiday and getting them all excited as they can see all the exciting details and activities in the app – like New Year’s in Times Square!!!
I’ve also scheduled priceless downtime for us all to relax or choose our own activities, and slotted it into the calendar for all to see, and each time I think of something I’d like to Google or remember to book/pay for/schedule, I pop it into my to-do list.
I do have a confession to make…the whole family once missed a flight! (Gasp! I know!) So this year I made sure to enter all of our flights on the app and set up reminders a day in advance – so no more embarrassing face palms from my kids at the gates. On our upcoming holiday we will need to hire a car to drive to the breathtaking destination Lake Louise, so I inputted the accommodation details and link into Google Maps so we don’t get lost in the snow! But wait there’s more! The to-do list functionality has been most beneficial as it’s where I keep track of ideas and things to do so I can tick them off as I go.. like hire a car, book activities, reminders for when payments are due, or even a tailored packing list for each member of my family.
I hope this simple 4-step process will help you enjoy a stress-free family holiday this year and for many years to come!
Here’s to happy ‘organised’ travels.
What’s something you like doing to make sure your have a stress-free family holiday? Share your ideas in the comments below.