Set a Schedule―But Be Flexible

Establishing a vacation schedule, with predetermined family time and down time, ensures that the children get enough rest, you get a mental break, and dinner times don't lead to meltdowns. Maybe the mornings are spent together, touring or taking a lesson, and the afternoons are free for exploring your surroundings, lying by the pool, napping, window shopping, or exercising. Tell the kids in advance what to expect each day, when and where meals will be eaten, and times when you will be off-duty (at a spa appointment, say). But be ready to make adjustments. "The best advice I can give parents is to recognize when kids have had enough," says Ann Corwin, Ph.D., the founder of TheParentingDoctor.com and a parenting consultant in Laguna Niguel, California. When they flag, "instead of trying to pack in too much, take a break or call it a day," says Corwin. "When kids get overtired, their behavior deteriorates."