1. Choose the right location
There is no way to relax if you are stuck in a car or even an aircraft with kids for a 15-hour journey. If relaxation is your only concern, then your destination needs to be closer to your city. A drive of 5–6 hrs, with stops in between, is ideal for young kids.
We stayed at a beautiful home called Denisford Estate, and it was a treat for the senses, with beautiful gardens, a charming cottage, and a sprawling estate. It was around 300 km from Delhi, and we reached it in about 6 hours. The kids slept through most of the journey, and the rest they spent looking at the beautiful scenery outside.
2. Don’t try to engage the Kids
You might feel guilty and want to engage kids with toys or planned activities. Don’t! Let kids discover the joy of playing on their own. Let them think of unusual ways to find fun. A hotel room table can be turned into a tree house, a pool can be the ocean and the resort gardens can be the jungle. There is no limit to the creativity of kids.
My daughter and niece made their own kitchen with pinecones, flowers, dried leaves and other things and kept themselves busy. It was so endearing to see them make the best of everything around them and enjoy time without any external stimuli but their imagination.
3. Stop and smell the flowers
It is so relaxing to walk, feel the abundance of nature and explore a new city. Don’t deprive yourself of this joy by falling into the trap of sightseeing. Even a walk around the hotel grounds will prove to be way more relaxing than a trip to the must-see monuments.
We walked a lot around the estate, picked fresh fruits and flowers, picked up pinecones for a DIY project, breathed in the fresh air, and marvelled at God’s beautiful creation.
4. Unplug completely
It is so difficult to go off the grid given that almost every place now has internet connectivity. But we made a conscious decision to not take calls or check emails. In fact, before leaving I set my mails to auto-respond, scheduled my blog and Facebook posts and completely stayed off the internet for the duration of our vacation.
It felt so freeing to not be overwhelmed with information, and when I dove back in after the vacation, I was ready to take charge of it.
5. Sleep and let sleep
My husband has a very erratic work schedule, and despite our best intentions, we hardly ever get to sleep for the recommended 8 hours. During this vacation, we not only slept for more than 8 hours, we also took naps when we felt like it, and it felt so refreshing to recharge ourselves with some much-needed snooze.
Even the kids enjoyed sleeping later than their routine time and cuddling the parents for a long time in the mornings. Imagine if we had a planned itinerary! I doubt we would be able to take out such memorable moments.
6. Eat fresh and local food
Since we were at a homestay, we didn’t have the usual hotel food. Our food was cooked by a local cook who made dishes according to our palate. We also discovered a local cafe that had some awesome oriental cuisine and made us go back there almost every afternoon.
Our cottage had a small kitchen too, and we made some meals for ourselves, with our husband and kids pitching in. It was a treat to enjoy the local flavours and fruits. Now if you travelled 500 km and still ended up eating a pizza, what kind of vacation would that be?
7. Connect with your spouse
Vacations are the perfect time for bonding, connecting, and talking! Having unscheduled free time means you can talk about your goals, visions, and dreams as a family.
My husband and I talked a lot about our family goals, chalked out our plans for the next few years, listened to our favourite music, and had a relaxing time. If we had packed ten activities a day into our itinerary, then I doubt we would have been left with the energy to talk.
I realize that a zero-activity vacation is not for everyone, and some of us actually feel relaxed by doing high-adrenaline activities like bungee jumping, cliff diving, etc. But I think every once in a while a real relaxing vacation is a must for every family!
Which has been your most memorable vacation? Let me know through your comments.