Family Vacation Planning:

7 Steps to the Perfect Holiday

For me, Family Vacation Planning is just about as fun as taking the holiday itself! And if you have planned well, rather than at the last minute, you minimise things going wrong. Like forgetting the tent poles, running out of gas and having the car airconditioner break down on your first day of the holiday! Yes, it has happened to me. So this is how I now plan for my family vacations.

Before reading further, get yourself a piece of paper write down the headings that follow so you can enter your own information. Alternatively, copy and paste the text into a word document and fill in your own information.

1. TRAVEL / DATES: When are you going and returning and by what form of transport? If you are travelling a fair distance with children you may want to plan and prepare some car travel games.

2. DESTINATION: Where are you going? Write down the places you are hoping to get to. It’s not always easy deciding on a place that makes everyone happy though. He wants serenity, she wants good shopping. He wants to read a book, she wants some action. To improve your family vacation planning, read through some of these different Family Vacation Ideas to get inspiration to satisfy everyone’s needs!

3. ITINERARY: What would you like to do on your holiday? Sometimes this needs to be left to spontaneity but you could at least have listed interest points of the area so when you come to a day where everyone doesn’t know what to do, you could pull out the list, compare it with the weather and decide on a fresh activity. Make sure it is a list that has been prepared by the whole family so there are activities there that everyone is interested in. If you do want to make the most of every waking moment with new experiences then definitely plan out your days. One idea our family loves that allows you to rest, be active, read books and explore new places are sailing holidays!

Another point to remember is that your kids will want to be active all day and you’ll be dying for an afternoon siesta every day! Make the most of caravan parks and Hotels or Resorts that offer kids activity programs so that you can have a bit of a break too.

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

Day 4:

Day 5:

4. COSTS: You can itemise these into the following categories and make an accurate estimation of each. Make sure you do your research well so the amounts are as accurate as possible.

For example, if you are driving, work out how many kilometres you will be travelling to and from the destination. Don’t forget to allow for miles travelled during that time. Then work out how many tanks of fuel that will be and how much it will cost.

A family vacation becomes very stressful if you run out of money before you get home. Having fun on your vacation doesn’t have to be expensive though. Check out these cheap vacation activity ideas

  • Transport:
  • Accommodation: You can get some cost effective vacation planning tips for accommodation from

  • Food: (you will probably be eating out a lot more so factor that in. Go by what and where you might eat each day per person)
  • Special Activities: (theme parks, park entrance fees, zoos, hire of bikes or other sport equipment…)
  • Spending money: (special treats like ice-creams, a gift or two, souvenir)

5. BOOKINGS: Make a list of all the companies you will need to make bookings with: car hire, flights, hotel, caravan park etc…and their contact details.

  • Company:
  • Cost Due:
  • Contact Details:
  • Address: (if necessary)
  • Special Notes: (about arrival or baggage or meeting place)

6. PACKING: Under this section, make a list for each member of the family and think about what they would need day to day from each room of the house. Less is best so learn to give items a few different purposes if possible.

Obviously the list will vary depending on your accommodation type but here are some areas to think about when planning what to pack on the family vacation. It’s good to make these lists permanent. Keep them in your Family Planner as they will make organizing your next family vacation much easier.

Family personal items:

Kitchen: (cooking, cleaning, food, matches!!)

Laundry: (buckets, pegs, ropes, washing powder)

Bathroom: (soap, towels)

Bedroom: (bedding, pyjamas!!, pillows, mattresses)

Shed: (chairs, table, stove, lights, torches, tents, outdoor gazebos)

Special Activity needs: (eg. boots & backpack for hiking), CAMERA!!

If you would like some of the work done for you then check out this comprehensive CAMPERS CHECKLIST from the Organized Womans Family Planner. An important item a friend of mine has started to always pack is what she calls her "Surprise Bags". They are a great distraction for children. This is just one of the items that I think you should include in a Holiday Travel Survival Kit.

7. CARE Of PROPERTY: Depending on how long you’ll be gone for and what you have on your property you may want to organize having your mail collected and bins put out (especially the first week when they are full or they will stink when you get back! Dad always used to have them put out so it looked like someone was around the place). Do you need pets fed, lawns to be mowed?

That is the basic family vacation plan and you can find helpful planning worksheets in the Organized Woman's Family Planner too.

Family Travel Resources

To take your family vacation planning further check out theses sites...

Excellent Vacation Ideas - Great vacation ideas to inspire you to choose your next vacation, with or without the kids! We showcase favorite vacation spots and other great ideas, tips and destination to excite and satisfy everyone in your family!

There is also a local Australian site that is designed specifically for families wanting a holiday. There are all sorts of tips and tricks for family travel from great camping recipes to how to travel with a baby! Check it out at

Kids London Guide: The Kids London Guide tells you all about the best attractions, restaurants, hotels and more for families so you can enjoy fun days out in London with children. offers stain removal advice for almost every spot known to man! Solutions are provided for clothes, fabrics, carpets and upholstery. Very handy for accidents that may occur while travelling!

All the best with your family vacation planning. If you think you would still like some more ideas to prevent anything going wrong on your special vacation then check out these great tips for having great Family Vacations! and I hope you have a lovely time together. If you learn any other survival tips along the way then let me know! We’d love to learn from your experiences too.

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