Getting the Most Out of Your Vacation

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When we go on vacation I spend a lot of time planning. I like to research everything from the accommodations to the restaurants and area attractions. Now you might think I’m crazy, but I will literally spend hours searching for coupons and ways to get more bang for our buck while we are away on our trip. You’d be surprised what just a little phone call can accomplish. Call the destinations you wish to visit ahead of time and ask them if they are running any specials or have any sort of discounts coming up. Maybe you can plan your trip around these?

Parents Magazine recently did a study that concluded that families are only dabbling with vacations and are taking shorter trips. As a matter of fact, 56% of families classify themselves as “vacation dabblers,” stating that they take small vacations here and there throughout the year.  Twenty-seven percent claim to be “vacation extenders,”  meaning that they often tack vacation days onto holidays when they already have time off of work/school. The study showed that only 13% of families are “vacation maximizers,” meaning that they take bank up their vacation days for one long trip. Only 4% classify themselves as “vacation accumulators,” meaning they hold onto their vacation days until the very end of the year when they have to “use ‘em” or “lose ‘em.”

Families seem to be taking shorter vacations. Studies show that 48% of families haven’t taken a medium length trip (3-4 nights) over the past year, and 51% of families haven’t taken a longer trip (5+ nights) over the past year. With that being said, families are still finding time to use up their vacation time–before they lose it. More than 3/4 of families make sure that not one vacation day is lost or given up, and on average just 1.3 vacation days are left on the table.

The most common reason that people confess as their excuse not to take vacation is “Time.” Making time with busy work schedules and other obligations can be an obstacle. Twenty-two percent of people state that they are too busy at work to take time off. Another Twenty-two percent state that they can not make the time due to children’s obligations to school or other extra-curricular activities. And twenty-two percent state that it is just too difficult to coordinate a time that works well with both spouse/partners schedules.

I think in the past I would have classified my family as “vacation maximizers.” We used to try to get as much out of our vacation time as possible. We would take a trip that was a week long and would try to fit as much into the trip as we possibly could. However, this year I would consider us “vacation dabblers.” As much as I would love to fall in the “vacation maximizer” stats, we just can’t make that possible this year. Between the boys’ baseball schedules, my husband’s work schedule and all of our other obligations we have at the moment, we just can’t seem to get away for more than a couple of days at a time.

Where do you fall?

Are you a Vacation Dabbler, Maximizer, Extender or Accumulator?

Vacation time is very important to our family. It’s our time to relax and enjoy each others company with no interruptions. While I do spend a lot of time preparing for the vacation, it’s still very exciting–start to finish for us. The boys love helping pack and get things ready. We typically start washing things and packing about a week before vacation. I like to make a list to be sure we have everything. The boys make their own lists as well simply because they like to be involved–it makes it more fun for them. I like to get the boys involved in everything. They are excited to help out and get things ready. They are so excited that they will even help get our house all nice and tidy before we leave.  Not just that, but it’s the one time that they will actually go to bed early without asking. Although, I can’t say they actually fall asleep early because they are typically so excited they can’t sit still and talk and giggle for a while before they finally fall asleep. We like to leave pretty early in the morning. This makes it nice for the little ones because they tend to sleep in the vehicle–which means less pit stops for us! Stopping for a nice meal before we get to the destination is always part of our plan. The boys love getting out and stretching their legs and we love trying out new restaurants. We have made some wonderful memories during our vacations that I know I will hold onto forever and I hope our boys will as well.

I’m all about trying to get as much out of our vacations as possible, especially when they are shorter trips like we have been taking lately. Below are a few tips that I recommend to get the most out of your vacation.

1.) Have the vehicle loaded down the night before and leave as early in the morning as possible. This will allow less stops (since the kids will sleep some of the trip) and will allow more time in the day to fit things into your schedule.

2.) Call ahead and ask for discounts and promotions that are going on while you are on your trip.

Dr. Susan Biali, a health and happiness expert  and the author of Live a Live You Love: 7 Steps to a Happier, Healthier, More Passionate You wants to help families get more out of their vacations this summer. She wants you all to “more-imize” your family vacations by following the simply steps below.

  • Dr. Biali says that looking forward to a vacation can improve your mood and makes it easier to get through work. She recommends you plan trips in advance so that you can look forward to them and enjoy the benefits of “vacation anticipation.”
  • If you are a “vacation dabbler” be sure to use your vacation days to relax and do something fun-not to run around and do errands all day. Vacation is about relaxation and recharging.
  • If you are a “vacation maximizer,” be sure to schedule a transition day between when you get back home and when you go back to work. This will allow you some time to catch up on the work and errands that await you when you return from your trip. (We all know when returning from a week long trip there is a lot of laundry to catch up on!)
  • If your family can’t get away for a long vacation, but you have to travel for family obligations, turn that trip into a mini getaway. Try looking for local family-friendly sightseeing opportunities and try treating yourself to a nice family dinner while you’re on the road.
  • Rather than spending a whole morning traveling to get to your vacation destination, try leaving the night before. This will allow you the pleasure of waking up and already being “on vacation.” This allows you to maximize the first day away.
  • Make your vacation budget go further by choosing a hotel that offers more, like Embassy Suites. Embassy Suites offers two-room suites for your family to spread out, free cooked-to order breakfast each morning and an evening reception with complimentary drinks and snacks for your whole family to enjoy!
  • Find the perfect balance of activities and relaxation for your family. Be sure to schedule time for naps and down time according to your families needs. Maybe even let the family sleep in while on vacation so you can get the most of your day, without interruptions with naps and cranky family members.
  • Want to hold onto that post-vacation rejuvenating feeling? Try creating a scrapbook or photo album with vacation photos and memories. Look at it often so you can recall the fun and relaxing time. This can rejuvenate you when you are stressed and need a burst of energy.
  • Sign up for special travel rewards programs so your vacation can pay for itself. The points you rack up can translate into special perks, including preferred reservations, complimentary services and even free stays!

Be sure to check out Embassy Suites on Facebook and Twitter.

Also, Enter the “Get MORE Vacation” Contest sponsored by Embassy Suites on Facebook. Between now and July 20th fans can upload a photo of their family’s “vacation face”–that look of excitement and joy when that much-needed vacation is finally booked–and a caption explaining how their family plans to get the most out of their summer vacation–before, during and after–for a chance to WIN one of five week-long vacations at any of the 200+ Embassy Suites Hotels across the Americas plus $10,000 in spending cash!

“I wrote this review while participating in an Ambassador Program by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Embassy Suites Hotels and received a one-night complimentary stay at an Embassy Suites Hotel to facilitate my reviews and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”
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