15 Little Ways to Ensure Your Family Vacation Is Relaxing

Yes, traveling with the entire family can—and should be—a breeze. 

1

mother-daughter-hammock
Photo by Kaz Mori/Getty Images

“Start off close to nature. Each year, my in-laws generously and graciously organize a summer family trip to a national park. Over the years, we’ve found that the most successful trips start off “rugged” and end in a fancy hotel with a delicious dinner served on white linens. One can both enjoy and endure the outdoor plumbing, bugbites, and breathtaking landscapes knowing that the lap of luxury (and a hot shower) is right around the corner.” —Tara O’Leary, Beaver, Pennsylvania

2

“Leave all expectations behind.” —@DURIANFAN

3

“No cell phones. Instead of capturing special moments with my phone, I’ve started to capture them with my heart and mind. Leaving the phones behind allows us to be present in the moment with those we love.” —Nikki O., Arizona



4

“We always invite grandparents to join us. Everyone gets a chance to catch up, but the best part is that we have double the adults to keep an eye on the kids!” —Lesley Poulton, Ridgefield, Connecticut

5

“For a road trip, lots of snacks and children’s audiobooks. Make the journey just as much fun as the destination. We’ve listened to The Secret Garden, Matilda, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, and all the Ramona books. Everyone is entertained, and no one is crabby from car sickness or hunger.” —Darci Jablonski, West Bend, Wisconsin

6

“I bring my own pillows. If I don’t sleep well, then nothing else on the trip is going to go right.” —Tori Lyle, Hughes Springs, Texas



7

“Connecting hotel rooms. Parents on one side and kids on the other. And I make it a point to never look in their room. (I’ll only want to clean it up!)” —Karen Stahl via Facebook

8

“Before we go, I clean out the fridge and make a list of what will be needed when we return. Then, on the drive to the airport, I place an order for grocery delivery and schedule the house to be cleaned while we’re gone. This cuts down on anxiety when we return, since I know we’ll have a tidy home—and food arriving an hour after we’re back.” —Jodi Reynolds, Austin, Texas

9

“A date night! My husband and I always make sure we pick one evening during the week when we can sneak off and have fun.” —Naomi Gill, Columbia, South Carolina



10

“Allow plenty of space. I can almost always find a rental property for less than or equal to the price of hotel rooms. The extra space lets us sprawl out, prepare meals or snacks as desired, and even get away from one another once in a while to decompress.” —Leeann Niccolini, Ellicott City, Maryland

11

Take the first nonstop flight out. It almost always leaves on time. With two small children, I can’t be stressed about making a connection or dealing with an increased risk of lost luggage!” —Anne P., Charlotte, North Carolina

12

“Commit to less. We took our five kids to South Dakota for a week with only one must-do on the itinerary: Mount Rushmore. We got up when the kids awoke, spent lots of time at the pool, and took in the Badlands at our own pace. It was our favorite vacation yet reminded me that time together is better than rushing around to check off everything from the travel brochure.” —Tawnda Andrews, Mankato, Minnesota



13

“Plan the packing. I make lists of what to bring in my list app from Cozi [owned by Time Inc., which also owns Real Simple] and modify it for each vacation. I even label what everyone will bring in their suitcase or carry-on. This helps keep us from leaving items behind.” —Emily Kriech, Brownsburg, Indiana

14

“Know when to let go. As our daughters embarked on careers, it became too difficult to find vacation dates that worked for us all, and I put an end to our annual family vacation to Hawaii. Fortunately, “aloha” means hello and goodbye, so last fall my husband and I went by ourselves and had a blast!” —Susan Kerr, San Francisco

15

“The promise of happy hour every late afternoon. Shirley Temples for the kids, booze for the adults, snacks and chill-out time for all.” —Marisa Oppenheimer, Sioux Falls, South Dakota