Family vacations are a wonderful time to slow down from your daily routine and enjoy one another’s company. It’s a time when school, homework, projects, jobs, and other obligations can be put on hold in order to make memories that will last a lifetime! However, whether you’re traveling around the globe or staying close to home, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed! Here are some easy tips to ensure a relaxing vacation.

Plan Ahead – Plan as far in advance as possible! By doing so, you’ll have ample time to change gears should you need to and you’ll be able to consider all of your itinerary options without any looming time constraints. Planning in advance also means you’ll also be able to take advantage of lower rates offered by airlines, cruises, and hotels. Include the entire family when planning what sights they’d like to see at your destination! If everyone is invested in the trip from the start, it will be that much more enjoyable!

Don’t Overpack – Traveling light puts weight off your shoulders and your mind! Too many choices can lead to stressful mornings, lost clothing, or a messy hotel room! Try packing articles of clothing that can be worn multiple times throughout your vacation. Let the young travelers have a hand in the packing process by allowing them to select two or three of their favorite clothing items. Little ones in grade-school and above will most likely be responsible enough to carry their own suitcases, too! But don’t skimp on packing some extra patience!

Take Your Time – Remember that children need some downtime. Scheduling too many museum visits, shopping locations, and historic sites in one day can lead to cranky little ones! Consider having breaks in between activities like a thirty-minute rest after lunch or a brief nap before dinner.

The Emergency Goodie Bag – To avoid a bored and restless tot, covertly assemble a goodie bag filled with things he or she can do during downtime: a new book they’ve been looking forward to reading, colored pencils with pages from a coloring book, a deck of playing cards, crossword puzzles, and even their favorite snacks! You can also make a grown-up version to include: wet wipes, a first aid kit, stain removers, and vitamins!

Routine Rules – Although you’ll be far away from home, sticking to some normally scheduled routines is a good idea. Schedule meal times at similar hours of the day and try not to let them stay up past their normal bedtimes, no matter how fun jumping on the hotel bed may be!

The Surprise – Sticking to a fairly set itinerary is recommended but having a special activity that you know everyone will enjoy hidden away until the final moment is guaranteed to add that extra dose of fun (and a great photo-op!)

Here are some additional tips directly from Nina Willdorf’s “The Smart Family’s Passport: 350 Money, Time and Sanity Saving Tips” that we enjoy:

When we take our kids to foreign destinations, in addition to spending days at museums, cathedrals and castles, we visit supermarkets and department stores. We learn a lot about each culture by perusing the aisles. Some food is odd to us, some is familiar and we always buy something new to try. — Gwen Gibbons, Thousand Oaks, Calif.

To avoid the “can I have … ” questions, set a trip allowance and stick to it. Upon arriving, we give our kids their souvenir money for the whole trip, and it’s up to them to spend it wisely. — Nadine MacLane, Seattle, Wash.

I write my cell phone number on the inside of rubber bracelets … and have my children wear them when we’re away from home. That way, should we get separated, they can show the number to a helpful adult. — Susan Redman, Hebron, Conn.

Remember that the goal of a family vacation is to share a memorable, refreshing, and enjoyable time with one another. Have patience, be flexible, and most of all – have fun! Happy travels

Photo via Concours d’Elegance