With the right blend of compelling research, creative exploration + adventurous preparation you can get your family bursting with anticipation for your upcoming vacation.
Did you know that a study published in Applied Research in Quality of Life found that the happiest part of a trip could actually occur before you even reach your destination? That’s saying something about the power of positive anticipation. And it makes sense. When you're thinking about a vacation you're going to have, it's pleasurable to fantasize about the adventures you'll have, the relaxation you'll enjoy, the dishes you won't have to clean...
Even if the reality of the trip doesn't produce as much joy as these fantasies, it doesn't matter, because you've already scored major happiness points, and the feel good hormones that often come with this happiness, just by anticipating your trip. Pretty cool. And, you can amplify the joy of this pre-trip period by being intentional with how you prepare.
First off, research the destination/s you’ll be exploring.
Discovering customs, phrases, popular activities, common foods and more of the destination you'll be enjoying will not only make you a more conscious, considerate traveler, but will get you and the family hyped up for the experience. To do this...
Read travel guides, fiction, or anything else you can find that piques your interest and expands your knowledge on the site of your adventure. For young ones, look into children’s books that offer insight into the location and its culture.
Have family movie nights where you watch documentaries or feature films about the area or activities you’ll be enjoying.
Prepare meals that include dishes you’ll likely encounter on the trip.
Find music from the prevalent culture of the destination, and enjoy family dance parties (or maybe meditation nights if you’ll be hoofing it to a place like Tibet.)
If your family has a hectic schedule, ensure you make time for this vacation prep - that doubles as family bonding time - by selecting a certain day and time each week to engage in these activities.
Next, make a plan for how you want to capture the trip.
We used to think we'd never forget the details of that pristine water fall we swam under in Costa Rica, or the eccentric Canadian couple we met in the dining car on that train trip... but we did. We have whispers of the memories, but not the full picture. The travel journals and photos on this site are the products of our solution to this issue. We've also used sketching and voice memos to help us remember the "unforgettable" moments of our travels.
This dedication to capturing special travel moments, through various creative mediums, has done wonders for enhancing the enjoyment we experience not just during and after a trip, but before we even leave. To enhance your own enjoyment...
Have each family member select a creative medium they’d like to use to capture and express their vision of the adventure. For example, someone might choose to express their experience through photography, videography, song writing, poetry, journaling, painting or sketching.
Next, begin practicing your chosen mediums by taking a mini-trip where you get to strengthen those creative muscles. Or, you can just have a staycation where you challenge yourself to experience your hometown in a new way. The beautiful thing about almost all creative mediums is that you can practice them anytime, anywhere.
As an added bonus, we’ve found that committing to this creative expression during a trip helps us stay present, aware and involved in the magic of our adventures.
Finally, receive any applicable training.
If the itinerary you created includes activities that require specialized skills, you may need to organize training and certifications for your family before you depart. For example, if you plan to scuba dive, go horseback riding, say yes to river rafting, kayaking or anything else that takes some know how, committing to the necessary prep now will minimize your learning curve on the trip.