Family vacations have the potential to be rewarding, exciting, and just plain fun. But, as you begin the process of planning out your grand adventure, your pursuits start to become frustrating. With so many personalities, sports schedules, and conflicting ideas, the process turns grim and, if you don’t pull your hair out by the end, you’ve decided to consider that a success.
But, it doesn’t have to be this way. With just a few simple strategies, you’ll be ready for your Thanksgiving get-together and go home having put together the vacation of a lifetime. Here’s how:
1. Pick your ringleader before Thanksgiving. If you’re reading this article or similar ones, you may very well be the “one.” Make certain that whoever becomes the central point of contact is not only a pleaser but a doer. It doesn’t help to be stalled in inaction nor does it help to have someone that drags everyone along on a vacation that only one person or one family enjoys. By having an established ringleader before Thanksgiving, the family can ensure that any necessary information or research can be collected before the family get-together.
2. Pick your vacation destination wisely. What type of vacation, what type of location, what type of activities, etc…these are all things that need to be hashed out when considering a destination. The ringleader (before your family meeting) has already pinpointed the destinations and come up with possible itineraries that have made the top of the family list. Once you find yourselves all gathered around the living room, it’s time to make a decision. At this point, you lay out the different ideas on the table, let the group discuss pros and cons, and then you, as the ringleader, need to pipe up (once the group has had ample time to sift through each destination) and steer the family toward a decision or vote. Keep in mind that the most enjoyable vacations are those that offer a variety of activities, the flexibility for the group to do things together but also do things separately, and the ability for each entity or family group to afford the vacation.
3. Organize the money earlier rather than later. Everyone needs to be on the same page with regard to how and when the money obligations will be distributed. Certain vacations, such as all-inclusive resorts, cruises or guest ranches, are easier since you don’t have to break up the cost of meals, hotels, and activities at every step. Whichever type of vacation you choose, organize it fairly and upfront, so that everyone is well aware of their responsibility and there are no surprises.
4. Anticipation is your friend. After lots of thought and preparation, your tickets are booked. The book, Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, mentions that “anticipating good things produces a distinct pattern of neural activation in the nucleus accumbens, a region of the brain linked to the experience of pleasure and reward. And training ourselves to envision a fantastic future has real benefits.” To get yourself in the right frame of mind, don’t be shy about ‘stalking’ out where you’ll be staying and sharing pictures and articles with your family via email. Half the fun may very well be looking forward to your vacation.
Happy Thanksgiving from the Elk River Guest Ranch Crew!