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Crafting the Ultimate Family Vacation Itinerary

Updated: Oct 29, 2019

How to put together an itinerary that pleases all members of your family, and ensures your trip is filled with adventure, bonding + ample chill time.

Pinterest image for crafting the ultimate family vacation itinerary

While a schedule free trip can be lovely for a honeymoon or solo vacation, going without an itinerary on a family vacation can be a recipe for chaos.

But not surprisingly, crafting an itinerary as a family can also be a recipe for chaos, as family members will have conflicting opinions and a handful of the suggested activities will likely cause some to step out of their comfort zone.

However, working through this discord and creating a solid itinerary you’re all in agreement on before you head off can allow you to utilize every moment of your adventure for enjoyment, expansion and connection, instead of wasting those moments on “what should we do today” discussions.

And don’t think that because you have an itinerary you won’t have time for relaxation or spontaneity – we recommend building both into the schedule.

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Having a family meeting to collect ideas for the itinerary.

Maps and notebook being used to plan a family trip itinerary

Before you get together for this family meeting, have each family member make a list of the types of activities they’d be interested in trying. Parents can help little ones make this list – we’re often surprised by the activities Hudson expresses interest in.

While you’ll ideally do most activities as a family, decide if there’s wiggle room for family members to occasionally split off to engage in a mini-adventure no one else has interest in.

Researching relevant activities.

Post on beach with different travel signs, representing activities for a trip

Once you have a general idea of what everyone would like to do, research the related activities in your vacation area. Be sure to read ample reviews (we prefer Trip Advisor for this, and also offer numerous activity guides for various destinations), and get quotes for the activities you’ll need to acquire a guide or equipment for.

Crafting a tentative schedule.

Laptop, calendar and notes used to create a schedule for travel

Before you book anything, create a tentative itinerary, taking into account your family’s typical sleep and eat cycles, and ensuring you’ll have plenty of down time (if that’s one of your priorities.) Keep in mind that overloading a trip with activities can sometimes lead to burnout and arguments, especially when young children or teenagers are involved.

Scheduling time for spontaneity and relaxation.

Person sitting by the ocean and a lantern because they put time for relaxation into their travel plan

When you allow for spaciousness, and keep your eyes open for wonder and connection, serendipitous moments will wind their way into your trip. So set aside ample blocks between activities to engage in whatever you feel like.

Contacting the local tourism office.

Cell phone being used to contact a local tourism office for a trip

Tourism departments are often full of insider knowledge regarding their specific destination. If there is one in the area you’ll be visiting, reach out to ensure your itinerary isn’t missing a mind-blowing location, activity or event.

Using Google Maps to polish your itinerary.

Google Maps being used during a group vacation

Prevent unnecessary transit time by planning your itinerary according to what sights, activities and eateries are closest to one another.

Book your activities.

People on camels in the Sahara during a family vacation

To ensure tours, and other activities that require a reservation don’t fill up, it’s best to lock them in as soon as you’re sure that’s what your family wants to do. For “do we? don’t we?” activities, hold off on booking unless they have a generous cancellation policy.

Make a list of training and equipment your itinerary will require.

Person scuba diving near a sculpture during a vacation

As some activities require specialized training (e.g., scuba diving) you’ll likely want to acquire this training and necessary certifications before you depart. Not only does this prep allow you to save time during your trip, but builds anticipation for the adventure.

In addition to training, some activities might require you bring equipment that isn’t provided by the company facilitating the activity. Reach out to these companies after booking to confirm what you’ll need to bring, and add these items to your packing list.

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