Many families are gearing up for their annual summer vacations, whether that be jetting overseas or road-tripping to the beach. But often these trips don't play out exactly as envisioned, especially when the whole family is in close quarters—constantly. On this week’s episode of "The Labor of Love," one of Real Simple’s podcasts, host and RealSimple.com editor Lori Leibovich hears from travel expert Wendy Perrin and writer David Valdes Greenwood about how to take a family vacation without pain, stress, or complete loss of sanity. Perrin and Greenwood, who speak from personal experience, share their best tips for smooth sailing this summer.
1. Decide on a mutual trip goal: Whether it’s relaxing on the beach, exploring a new destination, or learning a new skill, the purpose of a vacation can take many different forms. Agreeing on a mutual trip goal before leaving ensures that everybody’s on the same page.
2. Allow for everybody’s temperaments: Think beforehand about what it is that throws somebody off, whether that be needing adjustment time upon arrival or having a bed to themselves. Planning the trip with everybody’s dispositions and skill sets in mind can prevent bad behavior and grumpiness from both the kids and adults.
3. Find meaningful time with your spouse: Brief moments of alone time with your partner or spouse can help the trip as a whole feel more therapeutic. Choosing a family-friendly resort or a cruise with a kids club is one way to work in couples time, and tiring the kids out during the day can mean alone time—or even a date night—later in the evening.
4. Limit screen time: Deciding as a family to limit screen time on vacation will ensure everyone is present and engaged during the trip. Adults should tell their Facebook friends they'll share photos when they return, and kids' electronics should be limited to long flights or car rides. If the kids are antsy during down time on vacation, encourage them to write or draw in a travel journal.
5. Don't sweat the small stuff: There will inevitably be hiccups you can’t plan ahead for, but acting out and dramatizing it will only add to disappointment. "You want to be the kind of person who figures out how to turn lemons into lemonade, but we all get handed lemons when we travel, so you figure out how to make the best of it, and turn it into something good," Perrin said. "I think that teaches your children good lessons about how to do that."
For more advice, listen to the full episode below. Don't forget to subscribe and review on iTunes!