According to AAA, nearly 100 million Americans will have taken a family vacation by the end of 2019. People took two-thirds of those vacations over the summer. Read on to learn why these summer vacations are valuable, how to plan a successful trip and why now is the best time to start planning.
Family vacations in summer are about more than exciting camping excursions or fun trips to the beach — they are also beneficial. Family vacations boost your mental and physical health, as well as your well-being as a family.
Vacations Are Good for You
Trips are a lot of fun, but did you know they can be good for you? When you regularly get away from it all, you can reap the following benefits.
Reduce your stress levels: Escape from the hustle of your everyday life. Vacations are an opportunity to pause your responsibilities and relax.
Improve physical health: With reduced stress levels — and more opportunity to get quality sleep — vacations can do wonders for your physical health.
Boost your mood: It’s simple. When you do things you enjoy — especially with the people you love — you are happier.
Improve your focus: Regular breaks are necessary to keep yourself motivated in your work and everyday life. Vacations limit the risk of feeling the effects of burnout and let you return feeling refreshed and focused.
Improved relationships: Time spent with loved ones strengthens and improves your relationships. You can learn more about each other’s interests and abilities. You will also refine your ability to communicate with one another.
Focus on Quality Family Time
Did you know the average American family spends only 37 minutes together each day? Family vacations promote quality family time, which is essential for both you and your children. Consider these benefits of spending quality time together:
Exposing your children — and yourself — to new things: A family vacation may spark a new interest in you or your child, like learning about a different culture or enjoying a new hobby.
Tackling challenges as a family: Challenges can be daring new adventures, like rock climbing and scuba diving, or as simple as trying an exotic cuisine together. They also include any hiccups along the way, like flat tires, missing luggage or rained-out plans. Tackling these things together will teach your children valuable lessons.
Developing positive behaviors: Vacations are the perfect time to develop positive practices your family can use in their everyday life. For example, if your family enjoys ending each night of vacation watching the sunset, carry that habit back home.
Getting to know each other better: Although you live in the same home, it is easy for every member of the family to become so involved in their routines that you are not as familiar with one another as you once were. Vacation is a time to get in touch with each other’s needs and wants and learn about any new interests that have developed.
Creating lasting memories: The memories you make on family vacation will last the rest of your lives.
Start Planning Your Summer Family Vacation Now
When it comes to planning the perfect family trip, do not wait — there are several reasons to start planning sooner rather than later.
Get the dates you want: The sooner you start planning your family trip, the more likely you are to secure your ideal travel dates.
Secure your ideal accommodation: If you are hoping to book a stay in a sought-after location, booking early means you will not have to worry about the place filling up.
Let everyone get involved in the planning process: Start your planning earlier, so you have enough time to talk with your family about where to go and what to do while you are there.
Make sure to get your desired dates off: By planning your vacation now, you will have time to submit any PTO requests to your supervisor.
Reserve tickets to hot attractions or events: If your vacation centers on a specific festival or concert, start making arrangements as soon as possible.
Secure travel insurance: If you wish to take this precaution, you will want to set aside plenty of time to do so.
Give your entire family something to look forward to: The results of one Dutch study indicate the anticipation of planning a trip is the most enjoyable part of the vacation, even more so than the trip itself.
10 Tips for Planning a Successful Family Trip
When planning your family trip, stay on track by following these 10 tips.
Set — and stick to — a budget: It is easy to get carried away on vacation. There’s nothing wrong with splurging a little bit, as long as you are doing it in a way that will not hurt your family’s welfare when you get back home. Establish a vacation budget and start saving for your trip now.
Plan together and prepare to compromise: Incorporate everyone’s needs, wants and interests. These include scheduling both kid-friendly and parent-friendly activities. Is there something your child has always wanted to try? A culture or activity that someone in your family wants to learn more about? Use those interests to fuel your planning discussions.
Have a family emergency plan in place: Know what you will do if there is a natural disaster or you become separated while sightseeing. Have a first-aid kit prepared before leaving home. Understand what it takes to thoroughly equip yourself for travel. Emergency plans also include alternative vacation options in the event of inclement weather.
Pre-plan any major events:Check the events calendar for your family’s travel destination and plan accordingly. Research the cost of parking, event policies and any other information that will make your trip go as smoothly as possible.
Avoid over-planning: Although it is critical to pre-plan major events and nail down the big details, do not let yourself get too caught up in the small things. If you plan every hour of your vacation week, you risk missing out on unexpected adventures.
Book accommodations ahead of time: While sometimes it is exciting to hit the open road without a plan, when traveling with children or pets, it is best to book accommodations in advance.
Read reviews: If you are concerned about getting the most value for your money, reading online reviews can be a great way to decide if a restaurant will have a menu satisfactory for your picky eater or if an event is family-friendly. Do keep in mind, though, that sometimes the best experiences come from unheard-of places.
Do not let yourself get too frustrated: It may be easy to get upset if things do not go as planned. Instead of becoming frustrated, use these road bumps to do something outside your family’s comfort zone.
Try something new: A vacation is an opportunity to discover new things, whether those are experiences, foods, cultures or something else.
How to Choose the Best Destination for Your Family Vacation
When choosing the best destination for your family vacation, ask yourself the following questions:
Where have you been already? Explore new destinations or return to your family’s favorite home away from home.
What do you value as a family? Ocean conservation? Volunteering with animals? Learning about different cultures? Let these values help you choose a destination.
What activities do you enjoy doing together already? Maybe you are a family of avid hikers or food enthusiasts. Choose a place that offers plenty of these options.
What new experiences would you like to try? In addition to the activities you already know and love, ask yourself what you still want to do, like snorkeling or sailing.
What is your budget? Budgeting will help you prevent spending more than you can afford.
What kind of accommodation are you open to? Do not be afraid to think outside the box. In addition to hotels and resorts, you could also consider primitive cabins or tent camping.
How far are you willing to travel? If your destination requires air travel, book your flights in advance. If driving, do not forget to factor in any tolls along the way.
Remember to ask your family for their input. Create a list of everyone’s answers to these questions and use it to narrow down the best fit for your family.
Understand beach safety: Although beaches usually employ well-trained lifeguards, it is crucial to watch for riptides, strong currents and heavy winds that cause large waves. Many beaches use a system of colored flags to indicate when waves are too strong to swim in safely. As a family, learn how to identify a rip current.
The time of year matters: When it comes to the beach, early summer tends to have milder temperatures but calmer winds. Late summer is usually warmer. The Atlantic hurricane season usually lasts from May through November.
Not every beach destination is the same: Does your family want nonstop action or a peaceful paradise? If you can’t agree, find a spot that has a balance of both.
Packing for a beach vacation requires a little extra thought: Don’t forget the essentials, like sunscreen, sunglasses, beach reads, towels and a cooler for snacks and cold water. Baby powder is also useful for removing sand from your body.
Choose a beach destination with plenty to offer: The ocean can provide hours of entertainment — but keep in mind that inclement weather could impact the amount of time you get to spend at the beach. Choose a destination that has lots of things to do off the sand, like a boardwalk, bike trails, shopping, miniature golf and more.
Consider investing in a beach wagon: If your family has to haul a lot of items to and from the sand, having a way to carry it all will streamline the process and save you time.
Stay cool: This advice is especially crucial if you have young children. If your beach allows it, set up an umbrella or tent for shade. Sun hats are another smart way to protect your skin and beat the heat.
Take lots of pictures, but do not forget to be present: Pictures are a priceless souvenir you will cherish when you get home. However, be sure to spend plenty of time on the other side of the lens. Play with your children and enjoy the beauty of the ocean together, as a family.
Pick age-appropriate activities: Are you going to the beach with a baby? If your child is too young to enjoy the water or build sandcastles, be sure to bring something to keep them entertained. Some families bring a small inflatable pool for their baby or toddler to sit in and play with their toys.
Make Ocean City Your Next Summer Family Vacation Destination
If you are wondering about the best family beach vacations, consider planning your stay at America’s happiest seaside town. Ocean City, New Jersey, is a coastal spot with something for everyone. Hundreds of people travel to Ocean City, one of the top family beaches, each year to visit the Boardwalk for two and a half miles of shopping, food, amusement rides and fun.
The beach is pretty great, too. Ocean City, New Jersey, boasts eight miles of pristine white-sand beaches and gentle, rolling waves. Here, you and your family can swim and paddleboard to your heart’s content. Like to surf? Surfer.com recently named Ocean City, NJ, America’s best place to surf.
You can also feel safe knowing the beach has a full staff of lifeguards and several first-aid stations.
Eco-Tourism and Ocean City Culture
Ocean City, New Jersey, also has several educational opportunities for your family to participate in on your family trip.
History and museums: The Ocean City Historical Museum has collections showcasing Ocean City’s history, including its founders and the Boardwalk. There is also a collection about Hollywood starlet-turned-princess, Grace Kelly, who spent her summers in Ocean City.
Arts and culture: The Ocean City Arts Center provides visual and performing arts classes and displays artwork from local artists in its gallery.