Summer vacations provide a special opportunity for grandparents to spend quality time with their grandchildren and children, and there is still plenty of time to plan a vacation before fall arrives. Here are five vacation planning tips to help you create family memories that will last a lifetime:
1. Have a family pow-wow. The first step is to get the entire family together to talk about where you might go on vacation and what you might do. If everyone lives in the same city or area, plan your pow-wow at one of your houses, or at a local restaurant. If not, you can have it via Skype. Make it a fun event and encourage everyone to participate by sharing what their favorite summer vacation would be like.
2. Try to plan something special for everyone. You probably won't be able to accommodate everyone's wishes - if half the family wants to go to the beach and the other half wants to go to the mountains, some are going to be a little disappointed. But you can still plan some kind of special activity for everyone, even if the final vacation destination isn't their first choice.
For example, if the mountains win out over the beach, maybe you can look for opportunities to go swimming or boating on a mountain lake. Or if the beach wins out over the mountains, there might be a tropical jungle nearby where you can plan a day of hiking and exploring.
3. Plan your vacation budget. This can be a little tricky with extended family vacations as you and your children decide how much money each of you can afford to spend. Sometimes, grandparents choose to treat the entire family to a summer vacation, but this isn't always financially feasible.
"Both you and your children should be upfront and honest about your finances and the amount of money you can realistically spend on the vacation," advises David Lerner, CEO of David Lerner Associates, an investment company headquartered in Syosset, N.Y. "You shouldn't feel pressured to plan a trip that costs more than you're comfortable spending. It's often a good idea to set your budget upfront before you start talking about destinations and activities so you keep your focus on those that fit within your budget."
4. Be flexible. The logistics of planning a vacation with extended family will be more challenging than just planning a trip for you and your spouse. The key is for everyone to try to be as flexible as possible.
If your main goal is to spend quality time with your kids and grandkids, then you should probably be willing to do more "giving" than "taking" when it comes to the vacation specifics and details. Are the grandkids are dying to go to Disney World? While it probably wouldn't be your first (or second or third) choice, consider going along anyway. Remember, it's the memories that count - and if you have the right attitude, you can create them anywhere.
5. Have fun. This may be the most important vacation planning tip of all. Of course, everyone intends to have fun on their summer vacation, but sometimes all the planning and travel details and logistics can cause stress and get in the way. If you feel yourself getting overly stressed, or sense that anyone else in your family is feeling this way, call a "time out" and remind everyone that you're there to have fun - and not to sweat the little things.