Family Holiday A to Z: Reflection
Welcome to my A to Z series on surviving, enjoying and making the most of family holidays. I have just returned from my own 24 day odyssey to the USA with my husband and three little bears – so I am truly living what I am preaching right now! Each post in this series is designed to cover a specific aspect of family travel and provide 5 tips for making your next family holiday more special, fun and memorable. I would love to hear your stories and suggestions too, so feel free to hit me with them in the comments!
Blame it on my former life as a public servant but I have always been a big believer in reflecting and reviewing everything that you do. Looking back over events can help shape how you respond to them in the future and can make the world of difference when it comes to planning your next event – such as your next family holiday.
Daily reflection by writing in a journal, updating your status online or sharing a moment on a travel blog helps keep those memories alive and becomes an important way to remember and celebrate your trip. Having a quick catch-up with your family each evening can also help in the process of reflecting and reviewing your day.
Undertaking a review of your entire holiday after the trip can also make planning for the next one so much easier. It allows you to identify what worked best and what could have been improved. Having this knowledge could even help you change or modify your current travel arrangements to ensure you get the most for your time and dollar.
Reflection is not always something associated with a family holiday but if you want to learn from your experiences and make sure your future holidays are even more special, take the time to undertake some reflection as you go along. Here are some ways you can do that while you are travelling as well as when you are back on home turf.
5 Ways to effectively reflect and review your next family holiday
1. Daily reflections – make regular notes as you travel
This has been covered already in my earlier post on journalling your holiday, but I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to capture your memories as you go. In this context, being able to accurately note down how you are feeling, the details of the little things that went wrong, as well as all the awesome things that went well, helps in evaluating your day. These details can shape the rest of your trip – you might feel that the planned museum outing at your next destination isn’t such a good idea after today’s disaster so this gives you the chance to change things up as you go. Also having a detailed record of each day also assists in performing that greater evaluation of the entire trip when you finally arrive back home.
2. Daily reflections – have meaningful conversations with your family
During our recent USA trip we found it invaluable to get the kids together on the way back to our room or when we were getting ready for bed so we could go over the day. This allowed us to understand what excited them the most; what least interested them; and what they would love to do again. Everyone is different and what you loved most will probably not be shared by your kids. Understanding how they saw the day will be invaluable in narrowing down the perfect holiday outings and activities for your particular family and making your next holiday so much better.
3. Holiday reflections – view unpacking as more than just a chore
We have been back now for just under a week and we are finally getting our heads around everything we experienced while we were away. This has been helped in a few ways – the process of unpacking our bags has unearthed treasures we had forgotten about in our travels and has helped put the pieces back together. The process of putting away our pamphlets and boarding passes has reminded us of the best parts of the earlier leg of our trip which had been superseded by the excitement of the latter stages. The process of reviewing our itinerary reinforced the good decisions that we made and has helped us note down things that we would do differently next time around. Unpacking can be a pain but you should also look at it as a great way to take stock of all that you did and a way to reflect on your family holiday.
4. Holiday reflections – share your experiences with others
In some ways there is no better way to get a real feel for what worked and what didn’t on your holiday than sharing your experiences with friends and family. Showing them your photos, telling your stories, describing the meaning behind your souvenirs and explaining why you bought them a particular keepsake will illustrate, more than anything else, just what spoke to you most while you were away. You will find yourself repeating the same thoughts and feelings which will go a long way to reinforcing your reflections on the good and the bad parts of your holiday. It may seem indulgent and repetitive but people will be genuinely interested in your experiences and retelling them will help you gain an appreciation for what went right and an understanding of what didn’t quite hit the mark throughout your journey.
5. Holiday reflections – put together your post-holiday thoughts
Just because the holiday is over doesn’t mean you have to stop journalling or documenting your experiences. A couple of weeks down the line, go back to your journal (in whatever form you have kept it) and note down some further reflections on your journey. Identify the best and worst parts. Write down the places you would recommend to friends and family, as well as the places you would recommend they avoid. List where you would go next time now that you have the benefit of experience and more local knowledge. These notes can form the basis of your future travel plans and at the very least give you a starting point when it’s time to start planning your next family holiday.
Bonus tip 6. It’s okay to dream – on your return, set up a travel bucket list!
Once you’re back and the post-holiday blues have hit, be bold and consciously think about your next trip. Ask yourself – where would you love to go next time around? It could be that this was the tester trip, to see if family travel was possible for you. If it was a success, start putting that Pinterest board together and subscribe to all the bargain travel email lists you can find! If the holiday wasn’t all that you hoped, use the above suggestions to identify what went wrong and start planning afresh. You may not be able to go away again right now (I know my budget has taken a serious beating after #ourUSAadventure) but thinking and planning and dreaming can be done anytime and does not require money. Give yourself a goal and start the planning and budgeting steps so you can be ready to make bookings once your bank balance is back in the black again.
Do you have any further tips for making the time to reflect and review on your next family holiday?