Planning a family vacation is great way to get the family together

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Family vacations are a great time to bond with the family and forge memorable experiences. Get your family actively involved in the vacation planning process.

Keep in mind everyone's expectations and the activities they enjoy, and you'll be better able to find a vacation destination or package that makes everyone happy. Your children may surprise you with some of things they suggest to do on vacation.

Everyone wants a trip to remember, and by obtaining input from each family member as to what they enjoy, what they'd like to do and where they'd like to go, it can be successfully planned.

Once you've got your plan mapped out, keep your kids involved by putting them in charge of at least one aspect of the trip. They may be good with landmarks and direction. If that's the case, have them be your navigator.

Maybe they love to take pictures and would love to be the official vacation photographer. You'll feel less overwhelmed by everything that needs to be covered during the trip, and they'll feel a great sense of accomplishment in tackling their assigned project.

It's highly unlikely that your time or monetary budget will allow you to do every single thing that everyone wants to do on the trip. Work together to narrow the list, and place those things that everyone would like to do toward the top.

After the location, time frame, and activities have been settled, it's time to make the to do list. Figure out what clothes need to be packed, which neighbor or friend is going to check your mail and water your houseplants, and what bills need to be paid prior to your leaving.

Put your children in charge of figuring out things like how much dog food you need to bring along for a vacation that will last for ten days, and make them responsible for locating their swim trunks, travel games, favorite books and music CDs.

Here are some tips for planning your family vacation.

1. Start planning your family vacation well in advance of the actual trip. This can be a fun and exciting process, as you talk about possible destinations, methods of travel, and activities once you get there. Visit travel agents together and gather information from agents and over the Internet. Planning in advance will give you a better opportunity to find good deals by booking ahead.

2. Planning a family vacation should be fun in and of itself, not to mention the fun you will have on your vacation. Don't turn this into a family fight, or dark cloud will loom over the whole vacation planning process, and maybe the vacation itself. If your family is grumpy or uninterested save your planning for a time when everyone feels better.

3. Let everyone have some input. Even the youngest children should get to have a say in the planning process. Planning a family vacation should be something everyone can be involved in. Not only will that be more enjoyable for them, but they will be less apt to blame you if things go wrong on the vacation, since they had a hand in the planning process.

4. Choose a family-friendly location. As you are considering different vacation spots, keep in mind that different members of the family have different interests and needs. Try to find someplace that will have something for everyone, even if they are not 100% entertained around the clock.

If you have smaller children, there are great resorts that offer kids programs that will keep your children entertained for an hour or all day. Similarly, resorts that have activities geared towards older children or teenagers can be fun if your children fall into those age brackets. Does your family have a common interest? If you like hiking, skiing, or snorkeling, consider someplace where you can participate together in those activities.

5. Ask your travel agent about package deals, promotions for traveling at certain times of the year, or discounts for families with children. Not all package deal discounts get published on the agent's website, so it pays to ask in person. You can often find good deals if you are flexible about when and where you go, so be sure to keep an open mind.

Planning a family vacation is part of the enjoyment of the vacation itself. It builds excitement and anticipation, allowing you and your children to dream about the great time you're going to have. Even more importantly, a well-planned vacation is going to go more smoothly and be more enjoyable than one that was largely unplanned.

Super Family Vacations, Resort and Adventure Guide by Martha Shirk is a widely acclaimed family vacation guide, packed with exciting family vacation ideas.

Profiling 150 family vacation destinations in the U.S., Canada, Bermuda, and Caribbean. Super Family Vacations covers a wide range of interests and activities for children and adults, dining, attractions, and geography.

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