stress free family vacation

How NOT to Plan a Stress Free Family Vacation-1 Real Tip

Everyone loves a good family vacation, but the best idea is to have a stress free family vacation-and they are elusive! At least they seem to be, in my case.

Can You Plan a Stress Free Family Vacation?

In my family, I am always the vacation planner. To be honest, I hate it. Just the planning process alone is enough to make me want to just stay home. Am I the only one who feels this way?

Literally every aspect of planning a stress free family vacation, stresses me out! Not a great way to start the process.

The Planning Process Begins

stress free family vacation

I realize that there are so many different options for vacations that families can choose, all the way down to an all-inclusive resort type thing. However, like many families, we have a variety of issues to work around. For one, the only way I could get my husband onto an airplane would be to drug him and I’m fairly certain that the FAA would frown upon that. So, that leaves us with the continental US.

Our boys, mostly the youngest one, really HATES long drives so we typically try to keep that down…if we can. That narrows us even further. Then we have to consider what each of us enjoys doing. …So, we have to take turns getting our way.

This year, we chose something that the whole family enjoys (typically). We haven’t been snow skiing in 8 years and this would be the year that we go back. Everyone was quite excited.

When we knew the activity, choosing the location wasn’t hard. Having had a cold weather injury before, I can’t take extreme cold weather, therefore a lower elevation is what I need. We have skied Purgatory before, in Durango, Colorado, and really enjoyed it. So that’s where I looked.

Location, Location, Location

I hate searching for hotels. There are way too many options and price variations. The pictures and ‘amenities’ never tell the real story and in the end, it just makes me sick at my stomach. We’ve used Airbnb before but this year my sister told me about VRBO and that worked out great!

I found a place that fit our needs right away. (Shout out to @bearybasecamp for a great condo!) To be completely honest, having found good accommodations so easily, my expectations for the rest of the ordeal may have been a little high.

The Necessary Details

My next task was to book our lift tickets and reserve our ski rentals. The internet certainly helps with research but it’s still a lot to go through. I’m a tough consumer and want to ensure that I find the best deal for my family, which takes time and effort.

By the time the bookings were complete, I needed a glass of wine to soothe my nerves.

At this point in the process, most of my family had no clue what was going on.

They were completely oblivious to my struggles. So, at least they were still in stress free family vacation mode.

I will stop here and point out that my main goal in life is to give my family a good and happy life. I tend to take on all of the stress load so that they are as carefree as possible. Basically, I do it to myself. *insert eye-roll here

On to the Next Phase of Planning a Stress Free Family Vacation

With all of the reservations handled, you would think the hard part would be over, right?

You would be wrong.

Especially in my family. I like to save expenses in every possible way, especially at these times, economically.

One of the ways that I save money on vacation is to prepare our meals in our room. We always book a room with a kitchen, to make that possible. But the other thing that makes it possible is the preplanning that I do.

I always make and can or freeze most of our meals in the week or two prior to leaving for our stress free family vacation. …however, at this point, it’s still not stress free for me, but at least my family is clueless.

Are you feeling a pattern emerging? Stick with me, it will be apparent soon.

Due to my personality type, by about 2 weeks out, I have multiple lists prepared of everything that I need to pack for our stress free family vacation, plus the lists of everything that needs to be done at home to make it ready for us to be away for a week. And of course the list of everything that my adult daughter needs to know since she will be taking care of the place while we’re gone.

There is always a lot to do to make sure that everything is in place so that the vacation can be stress free.

I feel like I should stop here and mention that since Logan, my 17-year-old, is about to be an adult, this is feasibly our last ‘family vacation’. As a mom, I probably put more emotional emphasis on this vacation, therefore, putting more added stress on me…in my mind. As a side note, my family …did…not…care.

I always feel like it is my duty to take on as much as possible to make my family’s lives easier or happier or better in whatever way that I can. I see that as my job. I conjure up visions of utter happiness for the whole family and try so hard to make that happen–to make it perfect.

Perfection is an illusion, at best.

Amy Bell

When we arrived in Colorado, it was in a snowstorm and we were immediately snowed in. So crazy for a Southern Okie. We got settled in, ate some food, and went to bed. Everyone was exhausted after the 13-hour drive.

(By the way, none of my visions of car karaoke or trivia games, etc, came true… what was I thinking?)

And so begins the first actual day of fun?

Day 1 on the slopes was definitely less than perfect. It was deep powder (which I’ve never skied) and my skis were wrong.

Way Wrong.

I tumbled down the mountain the whole day and I’m not exactly as young as I was the last time. My last time down the hill was …a real mess and, sadly, the final straw for me! The video below details the situation.

From the video above, you can probably see how that day went for me. I was so frustrated by that point that I sat out the rest of the afternoon while Kris and the boys burned up the mountain.

In my mind, I kind of thought I had failed my family, but I hoped that I could save the day by playing some family games after supper that I brought along, compliments of my planning process.

That was a no-go as well.

Everyone was tired and movies were apparently the entertainment choice for them. Again, I felt like a failure. In my own mind.

To shorten the story of the rest of the week, it all went much the same. I did get them to play a game a couple of times, after a little coercion. I did get back on the slopes a couple of times as well, after changing my skis. However, it was mostly just Kris and the boys having all the fun.

By the end of the week, I truly felt like I had brought my family on a vacation and, despite all my hard work and planning, ruined it for them.

It wasn’t until the end of the week, when my husband (having pity on me because he is a dear man and loves me despite my shortcomings) took me out for a mountain drive and hike through the snow, that I finally felt good again. I was able to spend some time relaxing and taking a few photographs… decompressing from all of the angst that I had created for myself.

After working so hard to create a stress free family vacation for the family that I love, I stressed myself out so much that I barely enjoyed it at all.

THE ONE TIP YOU NEED for Planning a Stress Free Family Vacation

So…Here’s the key to a stress free family vacation.

Don’t try to plan a good time.

Don’t try to plan fun.

Don’t work really hard to create a marvelous experience.

Don’t follow my example.

Just experience the moment. Let the time that you have together with your family be the whole thing, regardless of what you are doing.

I hope that I have learned my lesson.

In fact, I think I will set an alarm for next year, to come back and read this post again so that I can be reminded of what NOT to do!

After years of research, I have come to the conclusion that you simply cannot plan spontaneity, and spontaneity is where stress free fun begins.

Amy Bell

Am I Alone?

Surely I am not the only neurotic mom out there, trying desperately to give her family fun and wonderful memories to carry with them…and then falling short. I would love to hear your stories. What do you do to create a stress free family vacation? And does it ever work? Help a sister out!

Til next time, Love to all!

How NOT to Plan a Stress Free Family Vacation-1 Real Tip 1



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stress free family vacation

One Response

  1. ChristianeJune 27, 2023

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