Summer family vacations are a cherished tradition for many families, providing an opportunity for parents and children to spend quality time together, away from the stress and distractions of daily life. Beyond the fun and relaxation, family vacations also offer opportunities for learning and personal growth. Whether it’s exploring new destinations, trying new activities or simply enjoying each other’s company, family vacations are an important way to strengthen bonds and build memories.
Planning a summer family vacation can be frustrating, time consuming and expensive. To help make things easier for you to plan a great trip and stick to your budget keep these tips in mind.
Plan in advance:
Start planning your vacation well in advance to get the best deals on flights, accommodations, car rental and attractions. Check for discounts or promotional codes. Consider using travel rewards programs such as airline miles and credit card rewards to save on flights, hotels and car rentals.
Make sure both you and your children have valid passports and that the expiry date is still valid. If you have Nexus cards check those as well. Also check travel.gc.ca for the destination you are visiting to check additional documentation, visa, vaccination or ETA (electronic travel authorization) you may need. If only one parent is traveling with kids you will need a consent letter which is also available to download on that website.
Take the most direct route:
If at all possible take the most direct route available. If there is a non-stop flight versus one with a connection it is worth considering even if it costs more.
Choose a family-friendly destination:
Look for destinations that offer activities and attractions that appeal to everyone in the family. Be sure to research restaurants in the area that offer a children’s menu and make reservations ahead of time if possible.
Consider the ages of your children:
Choose a destination and activities that are age-appropriate for your children.
Set a budget:
Determine how much you can afford to spend on your vacation and stick to it. Look for free activities and attractions in your destination, such as hiking trails, beaches and museums. Use public transportation instead of renting a car to save money on transportation costs.
Book a vacation package:
Consider booking a vacation package that includes flights, hotel and activities to save money. Often Canadian tour operators like Air Canada Vacations, WestJet Vacations or Sunwing offer packages that are cheaper than booking each part of the trip separately.
Research your accommodations:
Look for accommodations that offer amenities for families, such as pool, kitchenette and laundry facilities. Consider staying in a vacation rental instead of a hotel, as it can be more affordable and offer more amenities. It will also help you save money by cooking your own meals instead of eating out at restaurants.
Make a list of items you’ll need for your trip, including clothes, toiletries and entertainment for the kids. You can avoid baggage fees by packing light and only bringing the essentials as carry-on. Each family member is typically allowed a carry-on bag and a personal item like a tote bag, backpack or large purse.
Bring snacks and drinks:
Pack some snacks and drinks for the trip, to keep the kids fed and hydrated. Bringing snacks from home and refillable water bottles can help save you money. They are expensive at airports, attractions and theme parks.
Leave some free time:
Don’t schedule every minute of your vacation, leave some free time for relaxation and spontaneous activities. And speaking of time, arrive early to the airport. Things always take longer when you have kids in tow.
Summer family vacations are an important part of family life. They offer a chance for families to disconnect from their daily routines, spend time together and make memories. These trips can be tricky to plan but the pay off can be so worthwhile because the benefits extend far beyond the duration of the trip and can positively impact family dynamics for years to come. By investing time and resources into family vacations, families can strengthen bonds, create meaningful experiences and foster a sense of unity that will last a lifetime.