Can you believe it’s already the Fourth of July?
Every summer seems to fly by a little faster than the one before. Now that we’re past the unofficial midpoint, you may be itching to put one more trip on the books before your kids head back to school and the end-of-the-year grind kicks off at work.
Just prepare yourself for a little bit more hassle than many of us expected when we were dreaming about summer travel this year.
Run down this four-point checklist to plan a quick trip that will give your summer’s Return on Life a big boost while keep headaches to a minimum.
1. Involve the whole family in planning.
A last-minute trip that doesn’t work for every member of the family is going to feel more like a hassle than an adventure. Make sure that everyone has a voice in deciding both when you’re going and what you’re doing. You don’t want younger children to be bored. And you don’t want older children to feel like their social and work schedules can be brushed aside so that their parents can drag them out of town.
This is also an occasion where you might not want to let “perfect” get in the way of “really, really good.” If a long weekend is going to be less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone than the perfect five-day road trip you’ve mapped out in your head, trim down your itinerary or look for some shortcuts. If an older teenager really can’t get out of work or doesn’t want to skip a day of sports camp, that doesn’t mean the rest of your family can’t go have a little fun without them.
2. Weigh driving vs. flying.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s recent Air Travel Consumer Report, consumer complaints against airlines increased 300% in April 2022. Post-pandemic staffing shortages, high demand, and the usual ups and downs of air travel have created a surge in flight delays and cancellations this spring and summer. So, if you’re determined to fly, make sure you have some flexibility built into your schedule once you do arrive, and prepare yourself for long lines and last-minute annoyances.
With so much chaos at the airports, a family road trip should be more convenient, reliable, and cost efficient … except that the average cost of gasoline in the U.S. continues to hover around $5 per gallon. And during the recent Memorial Day weekend, hotel demand reached all-time highs.
There’s no best answer when trying to plan the most efficient and affordable family trip this summer. Again, “really good” options like shorter trips closer to home or overnight visits to friends and family might hit the sweet spot between doing something together, not driving everyone crazy, and not breaking the bank.
3. Pledge to unplug.
You’re already trying to squeeze a lot of family time into a small amount of time. Maximize the value of that time by agreeing that while you’re all together, screens stay off.
If you don’t own a digital camera, designate a family photographer who can use their phone to snap some memorable moments without disappearing into social media.
If you’re driving, listen to the same radio station, a favorite album, or a podcast that interests everyone so that you’ll have something to talk about or sing along with.
Encourage everyone to be really present in every moment and you’ll all share something special together.
4. Review your budget.
Did you include an extra vacation in your travel budget for this year? Are you worried that high costs might keep your family grounded and the car in the garage?
We’d be happy to help you run some numbers and settle on a plan for one more enjoyable and affordable summer trip.