Travel can be stressful, yet fun. Hosting people, for us, is fun. We just said goodbye (with tears) to Lindsey’s parents and two brothers who graciously spent 18 hours traveling each way (including airport layovers) to see us. To be honest, the trip was one of the most memorable of our lives.
Before they came, I realized I needed to prepare differently than I had in the past. Here’s some of the things that worked out really well:
(1) Discuss Budget Prior to Arrival
Every person has different perspectives on money. Everyone has different amounts of discretionary income. Discussing budget expectations can reduce stress and disagreements before they happen. It takes the focus off money (decisions already have been made) and puts it on enjoying time with one another.
(2) Prepare an Itinerary
Making an itinerary and sharing it with everyone involved prepares everyone for their trip or visit. They know ahead of time which days are heavy walking days, which days will be restful, and which days they’ll need a camera for example. It also helps to know which things to pack that they might not have thought of. The itinerary is just a framework to work from—and will still give you freedom to do something else if you wish.
(3) Discuss Expectations Beforehand
This huge category is worth it. In a big family or a little family, with new friends or old friends, with a personal or a work trip, everyone has different expectations for rest time, early starts/late evenings, pricey/budget, or any one of many other issues. Your guest might also have a specific site or activity that is a MUST for them. Wouldn’t you want to make sure that happens? Asking expectations before the itinerary planning is helpful and may even give you a baseline to base the trip off of.
(4) Leave Downtime
A typical planner will seek to fill every minute of every day with a certain activity or outing. Leave some time to just hang around the house and experience daily life together. In our case, it was helpful to see what a somewhat “typical” day is like. Go to the grocery together, deliver mail, go to the pharmacy. Especially if you are with family, they would love to see what you do each day.
(5) Create a Photo Book
As you go through the trip, download your pictures every couple days and upload to a photo site such as Snapfish, Amazon, Shutterfly, or Walmart. Even better, format a set of pictures each night so that when your trip comes to a close you can send it off and have your book within a few days of your arrival home. This is a fun group activity at night, since you recall the fun activities of the day, work together, and share lots of laughs.
What other ideas do you have for how to create memorable family trips or visits? We hope to have more visitors to plan for in the future!