That end of summer beach vacation is always something dramatic. Sometimes it can even seem overly emotional. No matter where you go, it’s a moment of big change, big celebrations and sometimes – big families too.
In areas to the north, the fields and trees are already starting to turn. Young kids are getting ready for another year in school, and older kids go off, sometimes a long way, to university, to life, and to all kinds of unexpected thrills and classes and jobs.
For the rest of us, watching them go makes us want to hold on – just a little longer – and for that, the end of summer beach vacation is exactly what the doctor ordered. Labor Day weekend is a big one in the travel industry. But for parents, and extended families, who’ve been running already – all summer in some cases – it can seem like one last chore before returning to normal life.
We came up with these five important tips for your “End of Summer” holiday. Consider them carefully, get planning, and go for a little bit more.
1. Stay Longer
Labor Day maybe a three-day weekend, but it shouldn’t be a three-day vacation. Making this mistake is one of the big ones that lots of harried, end of summer holiday-planners make. Spending five or seven or ten days really makes a big difference and, though it may seem hard to believe, you really won’t get any rest in anything less.
Particularly when you’re coordinating with extended family, those few extra days will make a big difference. Three days is a simply not much space to cram in everything you want to.
2. Take in Some September
It might not be obvious, but all those people leaving on the Monday of Labor Day leave a big opportunity behind. As of Tuesday most prices will drop and many heavily touristed areas, including beaches, will be almost completely abandoned. The fact is, in many beach locations, September is the lowest of low-seasons simply – only – because people stop coming. The weather is identical, the waves still crash on the beach, but now, you’ve got the place to yourself. No lines. No crowds and no excuse for putting things off.
The point is, it’s still “emotional.” People still enjoy themselves and everything will get going again when you go home. But for lots of parents, this was what summertime was supposed to be about. If you really forgot, or didn’t have time, to plan a proper vacation, September should be exactly what you were looking for.
3. Schedule Serious Down Time
Or at least plan for it. Too many plans, activities, places, things to see and do, and you’re probably running even harder than you would without a vacation.
So, even if you’re taking the kids, all the kids, and meeting the in-laws, and scheduling lots of fun, remember to leave some big blank-spots. Plan for a baby-sitter. Plan for some couple time. Bring some books, and be sure to schedule at least a few hours every day and some good half days doing nothing. Being near the beach makes doing nothing seem like you’re doing everything. Your brain will thank you.
4. Travel Mid-Week
Tuesday-Wednesday travel is still the time to go. And lots of vacations end on a sour note ‘cause everyone is trying to go back at the same time. Returning on a dime – with a rush back to work or to school or to real life – is often a recipe for disaster.
There’s already a lot here about “staying a little longer” but plan to arrive and depart on lighter travel days. You’ll find the entire travel experience much more relaxed.
5. Overlap Travel With Extended Family & Friends
But don’t match them day for day. If they’re staying Friday through Monday, then plan on arriving on Saturday and staying through the following Wednesday. Or do the bulk of your travel, the long haul on, say, Tuesday. Then spend a few slower days getting to where you’re meeting up with the lot of them.
Every family’s worst characteristics will come out under some of the pressures of travel. But even if you’re fortunate enough to have that perfect big family, then cut them a break. Share all of the above with them, but step back, too. Encourage time alone and that same down time.
The “end of summer” – like summer itself – is supposed to be fun, relaxing, invigorating and exciting. What happened between summers is, well, we all grew up. Life is full of good things, but it’s not always full of time and space to celebrate. Celebrations really can be quiet, reflective, peaceful and relaxing.
The very best part of the “end of summer” should be your chance to quietly remember. Take a little extra time. And don’t worry if it all gets too much. Life goes around this once, and there’s never a bad time to appreciate how truly memorable it’s been.
This article was written by James T., a travel and real estate writer in Mexico City.