Hello everyone and welcome to episode 106.

At the time of this recording here in the US, we are turning the Covid-19 corner. More and more people are getting out and starting to think about taking a vacation. I hope that’s true for you in whatever part of the world you are in right now.

If you are planning to go on a vacation with your family this summer, it’s important to know that a great family vacation takes careful planning beyond how to get to our destination, and what to pack for the time away.

Great family vacations happen when we pay attention to relationships and what we can do to nurture them. And that’s what this episode is all about.

A great family vacation starts with this

A great family vacation starts with your family meeting together well before leaving for your trip.

Meet to discuss the first three of five important keys to making your family vacation the best ever. Don’t forget to include the kids. Even very young children can participate. The time spent investing in this planning stage will help build anticipation and excitement for your time together. And it will help build better family relationships and great vacation memories.

Know what you want

Spend time clarifying your expectations. Write them down. What type of family vacation do you want this to be? The more you know what you want, the easier it will be to get it. If you’re not sure what you want you leave yourself open to disappointment. If you’re clear with what you want, you can take steps to get it. Think this through before you go.

  • Lots of activity, or read books by the beach for a week?
  • Stop at historical markers on your drive, or keep those wheels rolling?
  • Visit historical sites, or spend the time at amusement parks?
  • Do everything together, or allow for some alone time?
Mind readers are staying home

Don’t expect people to read your mind, because mind readers aren’t coming with you. Tell people what you would like to make the vacation a good one for you. Share your exceptions with your family before you leave on your trip. Don’t assume the rest of your family will know what you want because they won’t. Remember what’s been said of assumptions: Assumption is the lowest form of communication … followed closely by email.

  • Do you want to stay up late to watch movies or play board games?
  • Or do you prefer to get up before dawn to watch the sunrise?
Listen to what others want

A family vacation isn’t just about you. The rest of your family has expectations just as you do. Find out what they are. Ask. Draw people out. Get the rest of your family to express what they want. The more you know the expectations of others, the less tension there will be, and the fewer surprises. Do this before you leave the house.

We used this with our grandkids on a 2-day trip to our favorite vacation destination. They surprised us with what they wanted to do. They just wanted to chill. Picnics in the park, miniature golf, and swimming in the motel pool were as active as they wanted to be.

All three of these keys are important to consider before you ever leave the house. Then when the big day arrives and you’re off on your trip, it’s time to put into place the two final keys to making a great family vacation happen.

Find humor in the disappointments

We’ve all heard that the two things that are inevitable are death and taxes. To these we can add some disappointment in a family vacation. The weather won’t be quite right. The traffic may be congested. Someone will get sick. You’ll lose something. It’s all part of life. It’s all part of what to expect. Looking for humor in what goes wrong will help create memories to laugh about at Thanksgiving dinner.

Story of the Scott Lad Motel outside of Washington, DC (Sorry – no transcript is available.)

Debrief at the end of each day

Meet as a group and share with your family what went well, and what didn’t. Each person gets to talk about the highlight and lowlight for them. What was funny, what was disappointing? Were expectations met, both yours and others? Talk about any mid-course corrections that may need to be made. Have expectations changed? What part can everyone play in making tomorrow better for everyone? Find someone to complement or affirm for how they acted today.

Make a contest out of it. Give awards. Keep score.

How can you use what we’ve considered today?

Download a copy of 5 Keys to Making Your Family Vacation the Best Ever

Make a copy for each person going with you on your family vacation. Then discuss the 5 keys well before you leave home.

If you go on a vacation with friends, people not in your family, all of these principles apply. Use them.

If you are a missionary and your family is on home assignment, most of these principles will apply. A home assignment is certainly not a vacation, for you are often subject to the expectations of others. But to the extent you have control over your time and your own expectations, the greater these principles will apply.

If you forget everything else, here’s the one thing I hope you remember from today’s episode

Use your family vacation to enjoy each other, not just the sites you see. Embrace that great quote from Walt Whitman, “We were together, I forgot the rest.”

I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode. Just send them to me in an email to john@caringforothers.org. I may share them in a future episode, unless you say otherwise. You can also share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the show notes.


I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to act. So that you will find the joy God intends for you through your relationships. Because after all, You Were Made for This.

Well, that’s all for today. I look forward to connecting with you again next week. Goodbye for now.

You Were Made for This is sponsored by Caring for Others, a missionary care ministry. We depend upon the generosity of donors to pay our bills.  If you'd like to support what we do with a secure tax-deductible donation, please click here. We'd be so grateful if you did.

P.S. You might want to check out this blog post regarding the Walt Whitman quote of the year.