We love to travel as a family. Typically, we talk about destinations, pick dates, and then wait. And wait. And wait. And answer “how many more days until vacation?” for months at a time. BUT – there’s another (maybe better?) way: Plan a surprise family vacation!
About a year ago, we had family move away to another state. My kids were used to seeing their cousins often, so this was a big change. They video chat and play online games together but still miss them a lot. We had a long weekend coming up, so my husband and I chatted about taking a surprise family vacation out to see them. I found some good prices on plane tickets, and we decided to go for it.
We knew the kids would be off-the-wall excited. So, we thought- what if we don’t tell them right away? And what do we need to do to make sure we can pull this off? Here are a few of our tips.
Pick a destination you know everyone will love. Seeing family we knew the kids missed was a slam dunk for us. If I was going to spend the money and time planning, I knew the destination had to be a place everyone would be very excited about.
Don’t plan too far in advance. Planning a family vacation in advance usually allows you to get better rates and more options, but I don’t think that would have worked for me. I can only keep a secret for so long! So, we planned about six weeks in advance, which was about perfect.
Keep your schedule free. I knew things like birthday parties or other invitations might come up. We also had a basketball game we knew we’d miss. We just did what we could to communicate with those who needed to know we’d be out of town and scheduled activities for after we’d back.
Tell as few people as possible. I almost let something slip so many times. So, one of our strategies was to keep the trip tight-lipped so that no one would accidentally say something and ruin the surprise.
Don’t worry about missing (a little) school. I’ve had teacher friend after teacher friend tell me they encourage life experiences like family vacations. So, while we had an eLearning day and a holiday that made it a “4-day weekend” for us, we took an extra day to make the trip more worthwhile. We didn’t receive an ounce of push-back from the school.
We spilled the beans about the surprise family vacation the evening prior. This was a good compromise for us because we wanted the kids to have a chance to pack their favorite toy, ask questions about the trip, call family to share in the excitement, and just have a day of feeling that anticipation. We kept the reveal simple, but there are lots of creative ideas to make the big reveal.
If I can pull off a surprise family vacation, you can too! Give it a try and for my biggest tip – make sure you have fun!