When planning a family vacation or a weekend getaway, it can be tempting to create an itinerary full of events and activities so that you feel like you're making the most of your time, but what if I told you that could be ruining your vacation?!
Something I learned the hard way is that you don't have to have every moment of a trip planned to a tee, especially if you're traveling with kids!
I know this can be hard to accept, especially if you're a Type A spreadsheet lover, but through trial and error, I've found that some of our best trips are where we leave room for a little bit of magic and intentionally plan for downtime!
Why Intentional Downtime On Vacation Is So Important (Especially When Traveling With Kids)
After vacationing with our kids for several years, we realized that the secret sauce to a fantastic trip is downtime. It's through these moments of intentional downtime that some of the best memories are made!
Often, this intentional time looks like lazy mornings sipping coffee on our Airbnb patio or afternoons snacking on a charcuterie board while the kids burn off some energy in the pool.
In the past, I would've been tempted to schedule an itinerary with breakfast at a local cafe, which would require waking up early and rushing to get ready so that we could beat the crowd.
But now I know that moments like that don't serve our family, and it causes more stress and chaos that can easily be avoided!
Instead, we can wake up later, start the day slower, and enjoy our morning as a family without any hard-set plans.
If we feel like going out, we absolutely can – but it's not scheduled as a "have to."
In addition to having downtime in the morning, we've found that downtime is especially crucial later in the day, especially when your children are little. For us, this time is after dinner and before bed, and the kids can choose to read, play a game quietly, draw, or watch a show on Netflix.
This gives us a chance as parents to also wind down after a day of activities and lets the kids have a routine that's as close to normal as possible so that they can get a good night's sleep and be ready for the next day!
Ways To Create Intentional Downtime While on Vacation
I fully believe that by scheduling a bit of downtime into each day, you can keep your family rested and more excited for the adventures ahead.
If you're not sure what downtime would look like for you, I encourage you to consider the following:
Write down your "must-dos."
Before heading out on your adventure, take a look at your priorities and write down your "must-dos" for the trip – these are the things that you want to happen!
Once you know those, schedule them into your days, plan when you will do them, and let everything else happen by chance.
Block off time for naps and meals.
We've all experienced those moments where we've been in "go, go, go" mode all day and forgot about eating, right? NOT FUN! Especially when kids are involved.
In addition to your "must do's" for the trip, block off time for naps (if needed) and create a plan for all your meals.
Will you eat breakfast at home? Will you pack lunches? Are you going out for dinner? Should you make reservations?
Try your best to answer all of those questions before you leave for vacation so that you aren't scrambling when the time comes.
And when you decide on having breakfast at the Airbnb, grab all the necessary ingredients for this delicious brunch board.
Book accommodations that will allow you to relax
We choose Airbnb rentals over hotels or resorts for almost every vacation. The ability to have separate bedrooms and plenty of space to spread out and relax is a non-negotiable for us!
Here are a few other reasons we choose Airbnb over other accommodations when possible!
Walk around and browse local spots with no agenda.
Some of the most magical moments are found in the times when you're simply walking around and exploring the local area with no schedule or agenda.
While there's, of course, a time and place for structure, make sure you create a balance between the two so that your vacation doesn't feel so rigid.
Take everyone's wishes and interests into consideration.
If you're planning the vacation, it's tempting to only think about what YOU want to do. But if you're a parent, you know the importance of also doing what your kids want to do.
To make a vacation enjoyable, consider what the whole family will enjoy and ensure it is at the forefront of your planning.
Overall, scheduling downtime into your vacation and being more flexible will enable you to have MORE fun and leave the trip with beautiful memories you'll cherish forever.
I know it can be tempting as a parent to pack your days to the brim so that your children experience the most, but I can promise that simply spending time with you – whatever that may look like – is more important to them than what you do!