What to do when you never want your family vacation to end

Ever visited a place that you liked so much that you didn’t want to leave? Me too.

I have a short list of destinations that we were so enamored of, we would live there. Some of them might be on your list, like Hawaii and Southern California. Others, like Fort Collins, Colo., New Orleans, and Ketchum, Idaho, might come as a surprise.

Identifying them isn’t hard. They’re places that have it all: nice weather, friendly people, fun things to do. Getting there is the easy part; leaving isn’t. The kids are sad they’re departing the perfect vacation destination and, depending on their age, they don’t know why you can’t just extend your stay.

A recent report by Mayflower found that two in five millennials relocate to popular destinations like San Francisco and Seattle. Mayflower calls these 18- to 35-year-olds “vacation movers” because they don’t necessarily intend to stay permanently. It’s like an extended getaway.

I know what that’s like. For most of my life, I’ve lived in tourist towns. I’ve called Vienna, Austria, New York, Orlando, and Los Angeles home. (OK, so Vienna and New York don’t have perfect weather, but they’ve got a lot of other things going for them.) I have some insights into ways you can leave a popular vacation destination without the separation drama. They include setting the right expectations for your family, keeping them focused on the next adventure, and ending on a high note.

Here's what to do when you never want your family vacation to end
Erysse Elliott tosses a frisbee in Fort Collins, Colo., in 2018.

Set realistic expectations for your family vacation

One of the best ways to prevent an end-of-vacation letdown is to not raise the bar too high for your trip. You’re going on vacation. It will be fun. But don’t overplay it, even if you secretly know it’s going to be the best trip ever.

I talk to my kids all the time about the pros and cons of a given place. For example, my children loved Fort Collins, Colo., last summer. Who wouldn’t love Colorado in June? The weather was warm but comfortable. Fort Collins has a cool downtown and terrific grocery stores. There’s a lot to do, including almost unlimited hiking opportunities.

So, of course, we had a “we-want-to-stay-here” conversation about a week before we were supposed to depart. I was relieved that I hadn’t hyped up this visit, because it would have made it even more difficult to tell them the truth — we were moving on.

It helps to paint a picture of what life is like year-round in a place we’re visiting. Colorado has cold winters (all of my kids are cold-intolerant native Floridians). And having to drive into Denver for cultural events–which is an hour in good traffic–would limit our fun.

“We have to leave now,” I explained, “But we’ll come back.”

They seemed happy with that promise.

When you never want your family vacation to end
Aren and Iden Elliott in Washington, D.C., in 2013.

Wait! There are more places to explore

One way to persuade your family to leave a place they love is to tell them about the other destinations out there that you hope or plan to visit. That’s a trick I’ve used often.

“I’ll miss Hawaii,” my son said before we returned to the mainland.

“Oh, if you think Hawaii was great, wait until we get to LA. It’s got nice weather and lots of things to do. Who knows, you might even meet someone famous!”

My daughter already has her celebrity home tour picked out. She’s hoping to meet several YouTube millionaires I’ve never heard of. Kids!

The promise of adventure pushes us out the door toward our next destination. We often have no idea what it will be like, but we’re curious and open to new experiences. I also know that my time with the kids is short. They grow up quickly and move on, and soon I will be on this journey alone. I want every moment to be special.

End your family vacation on a high note
Erysse and Aren on the flight deck of Hawaiian Airlines flight 36 from Honolulu to Phoenix.

End on a high note

Plan something special for the last day of your trip. That will distract your family from the fact that the fun is over and it’s time to head back to school. My distraction was scheduled for the final day of our stay in Hawaii. I arranged for a behind-the-scenes tour of Hawaiian Airlines’ operation for an article. My kids got to tag along for part of it. The highlight was sitting on the flight deck of the Airbus A330 we were about to fly across the Pacific.

Unless you’re a journalist, you might not be able to do the same thing. But you can try something similar — a visit to a favorite restaurant, a flightseeing tour, or a whitewater rafting adventure. Saving the best for last will ensure your family doesn’t dread the end of your vacation.

There’s no easy way to wrap up a trip when you don’t want your family vacation to end. But by talking to your family and giving them something to anticipate, you might avoid a total meltdown. That’s no way to travel, believe me.

Posted in Away is Home Tagged ,

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can’t. He’s the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, and the Washington Post. If you have a consumer problem you can’t solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

Underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.