How to Plan a Family Vacation with a Purpose

Melissa Motschenbacher

February 27, 2023

Being intentional about planning family vacations with a purpose and making memories with loved ones is something we value, treasure, and hold so dear—maybe me as the mom more than anyone! I like to call it forced family fun! I have even taken our last name and shortened it and labeled our vacation time “Motsche moments” to keep the Kodak moments in my memory and give our family vacation a fun name, declaring it will be an intentional time with purpose.

Life has so many demands. It can be difficult to find the perfect amount of time, get adequate resources or funds, and have everyone’s calendar in sync—especially as children get older.

But through the years, we have learned the art of intentionality and the importance of seizing family vacation time together.

Why Family Vacations with a Purpose Are Important

After attending a marriage seminar years ago, my husband and I came back with the goal of planning getaways together and family vacations with purpose. For nearly 20 years now, we break away every January for a strategic planning day together at a local coffee shop, park, beach, or lobby of a favorite hotel. We spend the entire day reading our Bible, praying, dreaming, planning, goal setting, and protecting vacation dates in our personal calendars and the family calendar. 

There is something calming, refreshing, and inspiring knowing you have quality time scheduled with loved ones for family vacations with purpose. 

We fight to make appointments and put so much on our calendars. We really should make it a priority to plan family vacations with purpose and intentionality too! There is nothing wrong with spontaneous getaways, but we all know how challenging they can be to orchestrate.  

How I Started Planning Family Time with Intentionality

We can all start somewhere! Early on in our marriage, when the children were younger, we had fewer resources. My husband and I would plan one overnight stay together somewhere semi-local on the weekend once per quarter. We would have family and friends watch the kids, and we would be intentional to hit reset on our marriage and have a weekend away with purpose—forced family fun. 

We took time to… 

  • Have hard conversations
  • Have fun together
  • Laugh together
  • Exercise together
  • Explore the great outdoors together
  • Go to coffee shops together

As a busy mom, I always looked forward to our time away to refresh our marriage and lean into each other. In addition, we also planned one week-long family vacation together for the year.  Sometimes we would visit friends or family that offered a free place for us to stay, sometimes we would go camping, and other times we went on a road trip. Later, we began to explore more of the world, flying to other destinations. But we always made it a priority to plan a family vacation with a purpose. I still do to this day!

The party planner in me always spent a lot of time trying to plan out the adventures!  Sometimes, EVERYTHING would be a surprise, and I would create clues that could only be opened at certain times or destinations. Other times, it was a gift wrapped up in a bow under the Christmas tree that they discovered on Christmas morning. 

I had just as much fun creating the itinerary and preparing for the family vacation as the vacation itself!  

What to Consider When Planning a Family Vacation with a Purpose

To plan a family vacation with a purpose, I did my best to think through everyone’s desires, ambitions, and personalities to create moments that would be memorable for everyone! This is where “forced family fun” came in.  

Not everyone is an adventurous thrill seeker, but we all participated for the sake of each other and our memories together. Not everyone loves being “in” the ocean, but we all swam and snorkeled together. Not everyone is a coffee connoisseur, but we all went and tried a new cup of joe together.  

I did my best to breathe life into everyone as well, knowing everyone’s love language in our family is different. I would often reference the love languages that Gary Chapman writes about in his book The Five Love Languages

  • Words of affirmation
  • Acts of service
  • Gifts
  • Quality time
  • Physical touch

I tried and still try to fill everyone’s bucket and show them love based on their specific love language. 

For example, my husband’s love language is acts of service. So, I would be intentional in scheduling gym times for him, grabbing a hot coffee for him, etc. One daughter’s love language is gifts, so for her, we did a little shopping together, and I pre-planned small gifts I took with me to give her on our trips. Another daughter’s love language is quality time. I spent time at the pool with her and went for walks with her on the beach. My son is a words of affirmation guy. He loves for you to articulate how well he is doing and how proud you are of him. 

Most of these love languages do not require a financial commitment, and even for those that do like gifts, you can find inexpensive ways to express your love for them in their personal language!

Start Building Up Your Family This Summer

Vacations with purpose and meaning are great opportunities to refresh others! Proverbs 11:25 says, “Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” I have found that to be true. The more I plan vacations with purpose, look for opportunities to love on my family, and make memories together, the more my heart is filled!

Take time to plan a family retreat or vacation with a purpose. I know it will be so valuable to your family now and in the days and years to come. You do not have to start big; just start somewhere, even if it’s an intentional “staycation”! Seize moments over summer break, spring break, fall break, winter break, or weekends. Start today, and put it on the calendar! 

Forced family fun, here we come!