“Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”—Dwight D. Eisenhower
When it comes to family vacations, parents tend to vary widely in the amount of planning they are willing to undertake. Some families fly by the seat of their pants and do things like purchase their plane tickets upon arrival at the airline’s ticket counter. (Gah!)
Others (cough, me, cough) enjoy the planning of the vacation to such an extent, the actual vacation becomes the delicious icing on top of an already enjoyable adventure. I assume normal people fall somewhere in between these two extremes.
While spontaneity is great and we all need to just get up and go sometimes, there are a number of advantages—some you may not have thought of—to planning your next few family vacations well in advance of your departure date.
The Early Bird
The most obvious reason to plan your family’s next getaway with plenty of time to spare is so that you can enjoy the prime reservation opportunities available. Whether you want the best room at the best resort, the best table at the best restaurant, tickets to the brand new, popular show, and so on, only the early birds are going to catch those worms.
If there is a high demand for an experience at your destination, obviously, your family will be more likely to get in if you start your planning process early.
The advantages of early bird planning go far beyond beating out the crowds, though.
Anticipation Is a Joy in Itself
“To me travel is a triple delight: anticipation, performance, and recollection.”–Ilka Chase
Once you’ve got a trip on the calendar, you and your family can immediately dive into the joys of anticipating the adventure ahead. Bathe in the possibilities, count down the days, read about your destination, and talk to others who’ve gone before you.
If you have a bad day, you can take solace in the fact that you’ve got an adventure in store for you at some wonderful location with your wonderful family.
You haven’t gone anywhere yet, but simply having scheduled the vacation already provides so much joy. The more last-minute your trip, the more of this experience you’ll miss out on.
The World Is Your Classroom
“Experience, travel—These are an education in themselves.”—Euripides
The educational opportunities for everyone in your family inherent in traveling near and far are undeniable. From the high-level perspective of a mind-broadening awakening to the down-to-earth perspective of standing in a room where George Washington slept, an artificially lit classroom pales in comparison to world exploration.
The educational advantages of your family’s vacation can extend beyond the actual trip, however. When you’ve planned well in advance, you give your family ample time to read about where your going or the subject matter you’ll be exploring, to dive into documentaries, to search the Internet, and to learn.
The deeper you explore your destination and all it has to teach you, the more meaningful an experience you’ll have when you get there.
Vacations Enhance Your Productivity
Say, what? Stick with me here.
In his book “Getting Things Done” author David Allen describes a phenomenon we likely all recall experiencing just before setting off on vacation.
“Most people feel best about their work the week before their vacation, but it’s not because of the vacation itself. What do you do the last week before you leave on a big trip? You clean up, close up, clarify, and renegotiate all your agreements with yourself and others,” said David Allen.
Having a vacation or, better yet, a number of vacations firmly planted on your calendar provides a series of signposts for your goals, professional or otherwise.
If you’ve penciled in a few trips throughout the year, you may enjoy consistent, forward-moving progress just before you leave. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself wrapping up your work and moving forward on things you’ve been procrastinating on, so that people who depend on you have what they need while you’re gone and so that nothing hangs over your head while you’re away.
Advance vacation planning will allow you to look way ahead and get those signposts set in your schedule like little happy motivators all year long.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out your calendar and plan your family’s next adventure … and three more after that!