In the fall, our attention inevitably turns to the holidays and the season of gift giving. It’s supposed to be a time of festivities and fun, but choosing the right gift for each person can actually turn into a stressful experience.

Not to mention that clothing goes out of fashion and toys run their course on popularity, often quickly after the holiday season is over. It’s easy for children, regardless of age, to cast aside a “thing” they receive for the holidays when they tire of it or it goes out of style.

There’s a way to give a loved one a gift they’ll always remember as well as lower the stress of gift giving. Instead of buying things for your family for Christmas, consider the gift of a vacation.

“Travel is one of the most rewarding gifts one can give,” said U.S. Travel Association (USTA) Senior Vice President of Communications Greg Staley. “Too often, we don’t take the necessary time off we need to recharge, experience something new and connect with loved ones. And the memories we make with family and friends during vacation last a lifetime—in a sense, travel is the gift that keeps on giving.”

There are numerous benefits to choosing the gift of vacations over things.

Growing Stronger Relationships

According to Dr. Lotte Bailyn, a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science, low-stress opportunities such as vacations are critical to parent-child relationships. “Good relationships emerge out of simply having interactions with the people in our families under conditions that are not highly stressed,” Bailyn reported in a USTA report called “The Work Martyr’s Children. How Kids Are Harmed By America’s Lost Week.”

Strengthening family bonds is a major benefit of vacation experiences. With parental work stress seriously affecting children (six in 10 report feeling upset when their parents prioritize work over family time), taking a vacation gives families the opportunity to put aside stress from work, school and day-to-day responsibilities. This ultimately leaves parents and children feeling happier.

Michael Gurian, a marriage and family counselor and author of “Lessons of Lifelong Intimacy,” said vacations help reassure children of the secure family bond and help them understand what he calls “the family story.”

Children whose families spend time sharing the family story during low-stress vacations will be more stable in the long run, he added. “They are going to have an easier adolescence—less drugs, less alcohol, less crime. That’s how visceral this is,” he said.

Gurian added a vacation spent with family can actually provide a sense of bonding and attachment that feeds the rest of the year.

Further, involving the children in the vacation planning process can teach children empowerment and to voice their opinions.

“Planning shows there is a feeling of ‘jointness’ in the family,” Baily said. “Particularly if children are involved in the planning, it creates or reflects a well-working family structure.”

Bragging Rights For Teens

According to the report, 82 percent of children want their parents deeply involved in their lives, even teenagers. Parents might question whether teenagers even care about spending family time together, but teen children who vacation with their parents said they particularly enjoy the time together and later being able to share their vacation stories with their peers.

“Teenagers want bragging rights when they talk to their peers,” said Dr. Gilda Carle, who holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from New York University, with a concentration in psychology, sociology and social psychology.

Memories That Last Forever

According to USTA, 62 percent of adults say their earliest memories are of family trips, showing the lasting impact vacations can have.

Vacations help improve parents’ moods once the pressure of working is off, giving children the opportunity to remember these relaxed times with their parents instead of recalling stressful times at home or the activities their parents missed due to busy work schedules.

Surrendered Vacation Days: A Terrible Gift For Your Boss

A 2018 USTA study found American workers left 768 million vacation days on the table last year, with more than 55 percent of American workers reporting they did not use all their allotted time off.

Most would agree that “gifting” time that is due to them back to their employers is illogical.

The study reported that of the unused vacation days, which were up 9 percent from 2017 to 2018, 236 million were forfeited completely, equating to $65.5 billion in lost benefits.

Early Planning For Maximum Enjoyment

USTA also reported that those who spend time planning their vacations tend to use more of their time and take longer and more impactful vacations than those considered “non-planners.”

“Year after year, the evidence shows that Americans who plan for their vacations at the start of the year take more time off to travel and are healthier in many aspects of life,” Dow said.

National Plan for Vacation Day is always held in late January, and is a great reminder that the first of the year is ideal for reserving a vacation spot for the family, especially when reserving a spot in or around the Gulf Shores area.

Better still, why not beat the rush after the holidays and book your family’s favorite beach house or condo before Christmas. Here are some ideas for properties families love. These are among the most popular vacation rentals that book very quickly, up to two years in advance.

Condos With Private Fishing Piers
Condos With Indoor Pools
Houses With 7+ Bedrooms
Ground Floor Vacation Rentals
Condos With A Lazy River
Gulf-Front Vacation Rentals
Higher-Floor Vacation Rentals
Budget-Friendly Vacation Rentals
Dog-Friendly Vacation Rentals
Houses With Elevators
Wedding-Friendly Houses
Houses With Pools

A gift that always "fits" is a beach vacation gift certificate. Order yours today and give it to a loved one at your next gift-giving opportunity.