Summer flies by fast, but if you're a parent, you probably feel like your kids are growing up even faster. The hustle and bustle of raising and supporting your family can make it tough to find time to get away. But if you don't start crossing items off your family bucket list, another summer, and then another school year, will be in the rearview mirror before you know it.
You can involve the whole family in this four-step process to create and organize your bucket list.
1. Research together.
Filling up a family bucket list can put your kids' internet and social media skills to good use. Encourage them to talk to their far-flung friends and family members for travel and activity suggestions. With some adult supervision, you can help them find family-friendly travel sites and YouTube channels that will spark their imaginations. You could also let them loose in your public library to explore guidebooks, magazines, and newspapers that cover travel as well as new hobbies, sports, and leisure activities.
Your personal experiences can also be a great resource. Talk to your kids about the most memorable vacations you took as a child. Show them the movie that made you fall in love with Paris as a teenager. Swipe through photos of the vacations you took with your spouse before you had kids. Reminiscing will help your children understand that your bucket list can be more than just a list of vacations -- it can be a source of family experiences that they'll treasure for the rest of their lives.
2. Sprinkle in some new ideas.
Even with an entire universe of information at your fingertips, it's likely that your family's interests will lead you to some familiar spots and activities. If your bucket lists are a bit redundant, brainstorm some things that could pull you all out of your comfort zones. Never skied before? Book a vacation at a lodge where you'll eat well even if you never make it past the bunny slopes. Looking to broaden your cultural horizons? Spend a couple of nights in a new city where you can tour museums and see plays or concerts.
3. Create age-appropriate sub-buckets.
Now that you and your family members have all compiled your lists, break out a white board or a couple of big sheets of paper and start pouring your buckets into smaller buckets based on how old your kids are. Three lists for ages 5-10, 11-14, and 15-18 might be a good place to start. Or, if your kids span a wider range of ages, you could break you lists down into time frames: Now-3 years, 3-5 years, 5 years and up.
In addition to giving your kids something to look forward to in the near and long term, dividing your bucket lists can also help you and your spouse spot any windows that might be closing. If you don't expect your middle schooler to age into the kind of teenager who will enjoy hanging out with Mickey and friends, you might want to plan that trip to Disney sooner rather than later.
4. Don't wait!
Hopefully by now your family bucket list is well-organized and overflowing.
Now, it's time to get moving!
Zero in on a couple of short-term bucket list items and have everyone put them on their calendars. Start budgeting and browsing for the best rates you can find. Build in a little flexibility and some contingency activities to account for travel disruptions. Start getting more Return on Life with your family while you're all under one roof.
We'd love to talk to you about your family's bucket list. When you’re getting ready to schedule some vacations, call us up and we can start prepping your financial plan to support everything on your itinerary.
As always, please remember, you only have 168 hours to live your life this and every week. Spend your 168 hours doing the things that only you can do – the things that are really important to you. Spend more time with the people you love. (And tell them you love them, too.) Do activities to help improve your health and fitness and spiritual life. Engage in activities that give joy to others (and see how much you benefit, too). Laugh out loud. Express your creativity. Play a game. Take a friend to lunch. Donate your time to a worthy charity. Change your routine. Get more Return on Life!