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How to Foster Joy, Bonding + Wellness on a Family Vacation

Updated: Nov 3, 2019

Must have tips for minimizing arguments, staying in the present moment, maintaining health and more on your family travels.

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We used to feel let down by most of our vacations, and could never figure out why. These trips had been fun and fairly smooth, but we always felt the same afterwards. We didn’t want “same.” We wanted to experience the travel-induced-transformation our subconscious was craving.

Since then, we’ve done some digging and found that what was missing were tools that would allow our family adventures to deepen our appreciation for one another, spark creative ideas that would be hard to come by during our day-to-day hustle, and experience whatever variety of personal expansion we were each seeking.

This realization pushed us to determine how to set ourselves up for meaningful vacation success. While every idea below might not resonate with your unique family, we encourage you to dive into the ones that do, and tinker with the ones that don’t.

Putting this forethought into the big picture of your travels, and making a plan for how you’ll provide opportunities for bonding, introspection, presence and wonder will bring the “it’s not about the destination, but the journey” cliché to life.

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Creating intentional opportunities for connection

Green sign that says throw love around like confetti to inspire kind interactions during a trip

Have you ever had a nice thought about someone, but didn’t tell them? You’re not alone. While it can initially feel uncomfortable to summon the vulnerability to share tender feelings or observations with a loved one, this openhearted expression will deepen the connection between you and that individual.

During your trip, set the intention to verbalize your thoughts when you notice how brave your daughter was when zip lining, how patient your partner was when teaching your son how to surf, or experience any other affectionate observations or feelings.

Staying in the present moment

Woman sitting on the grass by the ocean who is staying in the present moment while on vacation

On our last vacation Bailey made the observation that she was rarely present because she was almost always thinking about the logistics of the next item on our itinerary. Vacations dissolve into a blur when we don’t put in the work to stay present.

One of the most effective tools we use to accomplish this feat is tuning into the six senses. When we stop to notice what we’re seeing, hearing and smelling, what the textures around us feel like, what the air, food or drink taste like, and what emotions the current experience is conjuring, we’re able to fully drop in to the present moment.

In addition, focusing on capturing special aspects of the moment with a creative medium of choice (discussed in this article), can do wonders for enhancing presence.

Helping everyone maintain wellness

Avocado, oatmeal and fruits eaten to stay healthy while traveling

To achieve optimal levels of enjoyment most humans require sufficient sleep, exercise, and nutritious food. And beyond that, each person has their personal maintenance practices that help them stay balanced and healthy. But funnily enough, many of the things that make us feel our best (like a daily run, a green smoothie in the morning, or 30 minutes of meditation) fall to the wayside when we’re vacationing.

While it can be enticing to say, “I’m on vacation y’all! Hello hammocks and eating whatever I want!” skipping the activities that may feel like chores, but actually enhance our ability to enjoy life, can dampen our vacation.

To ensure you and your family members are all feeling your best during your vacation, have each person make a list of the daily practices that make them shine, then figure out how to integrate those activities into the daily schedule.

Engaging in nightly check-ins

Mother with two kids in a gazebo over the ocean during a family holiday

Meaningful moments often pass without much acknowledgement. To ensure this doesn’t happen on your trip, engage your family in a nightly conversation where you each share your greatest joys and challenges of the day, enabling yourselves to squeeze the juice out of the fruit your daily adventures yield.

Creating a work plan

Laptop, notebook and phone used to create a vacation work plan

If you have a job that allows you be fully off when you’re not at your place of work, awesome, skip this suggestion. But if you have a job that churns out to-dos regardless of time or place, it’s best to be intentional about how it will fit into your trip.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Carve out a set time to work. If you can’t escape the need to do a bit of work while away, set aside time first thing in the morning (our preferred time to work on vacation) or the evening. The idea is that you compartmentalize work to that block so you're not distracted by email, social media, or whatever your distraction-method-of-choice is while your family is yearning for your attention.

Give the work to someone else. If you’ll be completely off the grid, you’ll need to find a colleague to take on some of your tasks while you’re gone.

Away message. For many, setting up an email away message is a pretty sweet feeling, and essential if you won’t have access to the Wi-Fi Gods.

Train your mind to relax

Person at the end of a boardwalk over a lake in the mountains training their mind to relax on holiday

It can be tricky to switch into vacation mode. It used to take us three to four days to make this shift, and by that time the trip was usually half over. Because of this, Bailey (a Certified Hypnotherapist) created relaxation recordings we use to reduce flight anxiety, enable a quick shift into vacation mode, and promote restorative sleep when you’re sleeping in new beds. You can find them here.

In addition, five minutes of slow breathing, outdoor meditation, or a walk around whatever area you're visiting can help you leave the stressors of home behind, and flow into the peace and "in-the-now-ness" of vacation.

Minimizing arguments, and having a plan to work through them when they pop up

Two people sitting in chairs at sunset and working through a travel-related argument

We had so many ideas for this one we gave it its own page. Click here to view our suggestions.

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