Have you ever returned home from a nice family vacation during the holidays only to find that you feel even more exhausted and tense than usual because you never really de-stressed while you were away? Using your holiday time off to get away is a wise move, but if you don’t take time on the trip to unwind or let your hair down, then your anxieties from home and work have won. Thankfully, with proper planning, packing, and preparation, you can enjoy a stress-free holiday getaway with your family in Pigeon Forge!
Just thinking about going on a family vacation, while still exciting, can be a bit overwhelming at first. Where should we go? How long should we stay? Will this fit in the budget? Should we take our car or fly? From in-depth research to fun-filled timetables and everything in between, planning can relieve a huge chunk of holiday vacation stress.
- Share the Load – Knock off some of your vacation burdens by sharing the load with your partner. Set aside some time to tackle the game plan together. Make some tea, download a vacation-planning app, pull out all the snacks, and get cracking!
- Research Goals – With Google close at hand, checking “Research” off your vacay to-do list won’t be too big of a worry. Knowing the Pigeon Forge area, travel route, local activities, seasonal events, best restaurants, top shops, and seasonal weather will most definitely come in handy! You can easily do that by checking out our blog for tips and event info throughout the week!
- Something for Everyone – Plan an outing for each family member, even if it’s as simple as stopping by an ice cream shop after lunch or popping in the local toy store before dinner. Additionally, involve your older children in the planning process by letting them choose their own activity — it will mean more than you know. It may also mean you do some out-of-the-box activities like ziplining, racing go karts, or indoor skydiving – and that can be fun for everyone! And don’t forget to select something for yourself!
- Book Now! – After completing your travel research, book everything (within reason) as soon as possible: the perfect Pigeon Forge cabin, popular attractions, fancy restaurants, etc. Waiting until the last minute may lead to your getaway’s undoing…
- Let It Go – As crucial as organizing is, flexibility is equally as important. Don’t get so caught up with mapping everything out that you lose sight of the main goal: quality time together. Breathe deep and let go of your worries and cares while you enjoy the serenity of the Smoky Mountains!
- Vacation Planner – At the end of the day, if you don’t have the time to plan or just really don’t want to (understandable), then work with a vacation planner to get your upcoming getaway on its feet.
- Tell the World – Let your friends, family, and workmates — not only your boss — know about your vacation ahead of time and remind them as your leave date approaches so there will be no excuses!
- Don’t Forget the Dog! – Prepare for your absence in advance by finding a pet-sitter and/or a house-sitter sooner than later. Write down the best way to reach you in an emergency, feeding and care instructions, and the secret location of the hidden house key. Also, be sure to check with the chosen sitter a few weeks before your trip begins to make sure they are still available. Or better yet – book one of our pet-friendly cabins so everyone can come along!
- Communication Is Key – Plan time for important phone calls (e.g. to check on a relative) so neither you nor your chatting companion entertain worrisome thoughts.
- Backup Budget – Build a little wiggle room into your spending budget so unexpected purchases will be not only possible but also stress-free!
- The Family Wagon – Get your car serviced before you head out on your journey, especially if you have a long drive ahead. With little ones in the car, it’s always nice to be extra prepared!
- Rest Stops – Plan your departure around nap and feeding times. Rest stops are inevitable with a family, but a little control goes a long way. (Remember this for your return trip as well.)
- What Do You Need? – It’s never too early to start packing preparations. Whip out your notepad app or go for the ole pen and paper to create a — you guessed it — packing list! Really take time to think about your family’s needs, and add more to the list as you see fit.
- These Things Take Time – Don’t wait until the night before to start packing. Give yourself a few days at least, depending on the size of your family. Underestimating the amount of time it will take to pack is one of the biggest threats to a happy start and a stress-free holiday.
- Overpacking Nightmares – Pack as light as possible to make loading the car a breeze. After all, ample space for tons of souvenirs is important, right? If you’re planning to take a plane, leave plenty of room in the suitcases to bring home treasured keepsakes!
- Washing Week – Grab your packing list and get the laundry done a week before your trip. This will ensure everything is ready when you are. Also, bring a few plastic bags for your return to keep the dirty laundry separate from everything else.
- Essentials Bag – You can’t always pack everything (e.g. shampoo, toothpaste, body wash, deodorant, etc.) in advance. However, you can measure out a space in each suitcase for an essentials bag so you can effortlessly toss them inside the morning of the trip.
- Kiddie Totes – Keeping fights to a minimum and boredom at bay, your children will appreciate their own bag filled with fun toys and traveling bits, such as a teddy bear, coloring books, car games, and a special blankie. For a teachable moment, you could set time aside for them to pack their tote themselves — with your help, of course.
- SNACKS! – Purchase your trip snacks and drinks ahead of time and place them in a secret location to keep little ones (and the hubby) from munching. Failure to remember the snacks is not an option, especially with kids!
- The Final Tip – Unplug from work and social media to be fully present and sincerely enjoy every moment in the Smokies with your family. Remember the more you give your body and mind time to truly relax, the better you will feel and work when you return. Plus, the endless smiles will be more than worth it. It will be a stress-free holiday in Pigeon Forge that you’ll remember forever!
After outlining your vacation plans, it can be tempting to simply forget about the trip to the Smokies until the day before…when you participate in an unwanted session of panicked packing — forgetting necessities, bringing random items, and starting off the vacay with frowns of frustration. Well, not this time! With these practical packing tips, you’ll be ready to walk out the door in record time — with a smiling family to boot!