So, you’ve just finished doing your income taxes for 2017, and you’re getting a hefty refund this year. If you don’t need the money to pay bills or replenish your savings, you may be thinking about using it for that family vacation you’ve been thinking about for some time. After all, spring break is right around the corner. The kids will be out of school, and you’ve got some time off coming to you, too.
If an impromptu spring break vacation sounds like a great idea about now, start planning right away. Spring break (officially the period between February 24th and April 9th, says the LA Times.) is one of the busiest travel times of the year, so make your reservations for air travel and a vacation rental as soon as you can. Then get the family together and decide on some of the things you’d like to do.
Sounds simple, right? And with the dozens of travel websites and apps available today, it actually isn’t that much of a chore. But we all know that the planning isn’t finished until everyone is packed on their way. And those last minute preparations can be the most taxing and stressful of all. That’s why we’ve put together a couple of tips to help you get the family out the door with everything they need.
Tip #1. Start Early
Many people think that packing for a family vacation has to happen right before travel day. But, especially if you’re leaving winter weather for a warmer locale, a lot of packing can be done well in advance. If you’re heading to Atlanta from somewhere up North, you can leave your heavy sweaters and woolen caps behind. The average temperature here in March during the daytime is about 65 degrees, and it dips to just about 45 at night. So pull out the family’s spring wardrobe and start organizing now. If your children are old enough, have them sort through their clothes and decide what they want to take. Then you can cull through the selection and make necessary changes later on.
Tip #2. Buy extra
Another early packing tip — buy an extra set of toiletries for the family and pack them up now. You’ll wind up buying them eventually anyway, so why not pick them up ahead of time and put them aside for the trip? If your children are teenagers with individual preferences (what teen doesn’t have a favorite shampoo?) buy a travel-sized set of toiletries for for each one, and put them in plastic bags labeled with their names.
While you’re out shopping, pick up some extra batteries (AA and AAA are usually all you’ll need) and a couple of extra mini-USB chargers for phones, Kindles, tablets and the like. And put them aside in your “packing pile” too. Lastly, buy some pre-packaged snacks, like raisins and other dried fruits, crackers and granola bars and set them aside for the trip.
Tip #3. Plan Some Fun Activities
The wonders of modern technology can keep kids entertained for hours these days. Just hand them an iPad with some age-appropriate apps and games, and they’ll be glued to the screen for quite some time. But if you’d like to interact with your children while you’re traveling, or if you think limiting screen time is a good idea, try to plan to play some fun, interactive games as well.
If you’re driving to your spring break destination, ask school-aged kids to search for license plates from all 50 states, or find as many different kinds of cars as they can. (You can print a list here.) Or play 20 Questions, Hangman, or Tic-Tac-Toe with them on a plane. If you’re traveling with a toddler, pick out a few books, some blank paper, crayons and a package of stickers, and set them aside. Better yet, put them in a backpack that you grab as you run out the door. Teenagers? Just make sure they have their phones and chargers, and you’re all set.
Tip #4. Make a List
After you’ve packed everything you can think of in advance of your trip, make a list of all of your and the family’s last minute needs. Start with the items you typically forget on every trip, whether that’s a toothbrush charger, reading glasses, baby wipes or a contact lens case. Then go through a typical day in the life of your family, and make a list of essentials that you’d rather not buy on the road. Do you need to a hairdryer or an iron? How about running shoes? Do your kids wear braces and use a Waterpik? The last thing you want to spend your money on while on a family vacation is high-priced items that you forgot at home.
Tip #5. Have Fun!
When all is said and done, the most important thing to remember about a spring break vacation is that it’s supposed to be fun! Planning ahead to take the stress out of the preparations is a great idea. But leave some room for improvising and spontaneous changes in your plans. Sometimes the best laid plans go awry anyway, due to things like weather issues, travel delays or unexpected snafus. Approaching your vacation with an open mind and a relaxed attitude will go a long way towards helping you deal with those little surprises too.
Are you coming to the Atlanta area for business or pleasure? We at Atlanta Family Vacation Rental offer comfortable accommodations in some great locations at outstanding rates. Give us a call to learn more about what we have available, or visit our online scheduler to view properties and availability, or to book online.