Ah the Grisworld family - well meaning, loving, idealistic people with the best intentions. Still nobody can screw up a family vacation like they can!
If you do NOT want your family vacation to turn into a Griswold adventure sequel, here are some tips for you to follow....
1. NEVER bring your child's wooby on vacation - That very special item, toy or security blanket that your kid simply cannot live without. Brining it along will guarantee that it will be lost. Lie, cheat or get a conterfeit for your trip. It's better for your child to be without his beloved for a few days in order to avoid a lifetime of therapy for the whole family.
2. Overpacking - It will cost you at the airport and at the chiropractor. If you can't wear it at least twice, leave it home. If your kids are mud magnets pack easy wash in the sink - hey most hotels give you extra shampoo so why not use it.
3. Leave fashionistas at home - See #2. Guys can usually go for weeks with a couple of boxers, some socks and a toothbrush. If You have a diva in your household that insists on packing everything she owns, have her pay the extra luggage fees. You can also turn this arguement into a competition - have her carry her own suitcases up and down 3 flights of stairs ten times in a row while wearing high heels. This demonstration does wonders for changing behaviors.
4. Souvenir Regrets - If you see something you absolutely cannot live with out, buy it. Chances are you'll never be able to find that store or item ever again. If you hate it when you get home, there's always ebay for all those people who couldn't find that same souvenir shop either.
5. Buy the Right Souvenirs - See #2. Do you really want to be that person carrying that waterford crystal punch bowl over hill and dale in Ireland? If you must buy a big item then plan on shipping it home.
6. Don't Be A Target - See #3. Wearing expensive jewlery or flashing a wallet full of cash is like having a neon sign over your head that reads "Rob me, please!" Do your best to blend and be unassuming. You will be able to relax and have more fun without having to worry.
7. Do NOT Drop Your Radar - You can take a vacation anytime but you can NEVER take a vacation from parenting. You really need to be doubly invested in your child's safety and well being in a strange environment. There needs to be one designated parent for every parent at the pool bar.
8. Skimping on Ziploc bags - Make sure any liquids that you pack are safely secured in a waterproof bag. Be sure to bring extra bags for wet bathing suits and all those free hotel shampoos that you plan on robbing. It's murphy's law - if you take extra body lotion and don't have a ziploc to put it in, it WILL leak all over everything in your suitcase.
9. Expecting your kids WILL behave - HA! I see you hit that pool bar early! Your kids don't behave at home, what makes you think they will magically behave like angels while on vacation? Have frank discussions with your kids on the rules of engagement for vacation before you ever leave home. Be sure to outline the inevitable concesequences. Be prepared to make good on these consequences. See #7 regarding designated parent.
10. Be As Smart As Your Phone - Know your cell phone plan, especially if you are traveling overseas. Last thing you want to face is a $800 cell phone due to silly "whassup" pool photos emailed to every person you know. See #9 regarding kids cell phones too.
11. Being Fashionably late - See #2 and other tips for how not to miss your flight.
12. Buying the cheapest flights - We're all for great travel bargains but seriously do you really think your family can land on time, clear customs and haul "butt" to the opposite end of Chicago O'hare in 15 minutes? Does saving $50 warrant double connections with a 2 year old? Let's get real people.
13. Free is NEVER free - Be very aware of timeshare salesmen bearing free gifts and liquor. Chances are you'll wake up waiting in line for that free jetski ride and $100k poorer.
14. Hotels "near" City Center - This is hotel lingo that means the hotel you've chosen is really located in Reykjavik and the reality is it will take you hours of travel time to do any sort of leisure activities the the city you were really hoping to visit.
13. Don't be a travel cheapskate - See #12, #13 and #14. Remember there is a huge difference between getting the cheapest price and finding the best value.
16. Travel Insurance is a Scam - If you can afford to loose the entire cost of your family's vacation or pay for ANY emergency medical or surgical care they may need out of pocket then you're right...you don't need no stinking travel insurance.
17. I'm waiting for a last minute deal -These are the same people lined up on their sofa every week waiting to hear the latest lottery numbers. Believe this one and I'll tell you how to save $4,500 on your next family vacation.
18. Not printing your travel documents - Lot of good that phone app does you if your phone battery dies just when you need it. Also print back up copies, this includes photo copies of your passports too.
19. Not Alerting your Credit card Company of your Travels - You must alert your credit card company of your travel plans otherwise if they see charges comeing thru from a strange location, they will put a hold on your card in order to protect you from fraudulent charges. Nothing like trying to check into your hotel after a LONG red eye flight and finding your credit card will not work.
20. Not being Honest - Vacations are not all rainbows and pink unicorns. Sorry but your 2 year old will probably not appreciate spending hours in the Louvre even if you think your child is an artistic genius. If your 13 year old spends HOURS in the bathroom then having 2 bathrooms in your hotel suite may make your family vacation much more enjoyable for everyone else. If you're typically a couch potato do you really think you'll be able to hike for several days in high elevations just based on your good looks?
21. Listening to Everyone Else -See # 20. What's right for your best friend's family or the person who wrote that online hotel review may not be right for the needs and travel wishes of your family.
22. More means More - Trying to see all of Europe in 5 days is a guarantee for disaster, especially when you have kids in tow. Pick your priorities and enjoy yourself while on vacation. Less is often turns into much more when traveling and sightseeing. Don't turn your vacation into a military commando operation.
23. Not Doing Your Homework - Showing up for your flights or family cruise and not have the proper ID's, visas or paperwork for every member of your family could mean you won't be going anywhere. Denied boarding could cost you your vacation plans and every penny you've paid for your trip.
24 Planing for Catastrophies - Always keep necessary medication, medical histories and doctor's phone numbers on your person. Chances are if you'e prepared for the worst, you won't get caught short.
25. Don't Be TOO Social - Be careful what you say about your vacation on social media. Sure close friends and family like to see your family vacation videos posted live on Facebook. Friends of your friends, friends might just be more intersted in what stuff they could possibly rob while your home is left unattended.