Getting through a family vacation in one piece

Vacations are supposed to be fun, relaxing times, aren’t they? In a perfect world, they’re a chance to break away from the mundane routines of work, school and other responsibilities and enjoy being with family and loved ones. And yet each and every person reading this probably has some horror story about a family vacation that ended with everyone stressed out and eager to get away from those same loved ones. To keep your next getaway from ending in frustration, try following these tips:

  1. Plan for a longer trip
    What’s that? Google Maps says the trip from here to your destination will only take three hours? Be prepared for it to take five. There are two reasons for this; first, obviously traffic, flight delays, and other unpredictable events could add time to the trip, and making peace with that in advance can keep everyone calm. Second, it helps if you’re traveling with kids. If you have enough food and entertainment to last for a longer journey than necessary, the odds that the trip devolves into yelling and tears decrease dramatically.

    License: Michael Newsham
    License: Michael Newsham
  2. Maintain some kind of schedule
    I know vacations are supposed to mean staying up late, sleeping in, and taking the opportunity to break away from the everyday activities. But while staying out late once or twice may not be that big a deal, do it too often and it can throw your circadian rhythm out of whack, which can lead to higher stress levels. So while you don’t have to set your alarm for 5:00 AM every morning, don’t let basic things like sleep and meals fall by the wayside just because you’re on vacation.
  3. Know when to call it a day
    This is especially true if you have children. If your kids are having fun, they’re not going to notice how tired or sunburnt they are. They’ll want to spend every day of your trip to Virginia Beach visiting all the water parks they can. Naturally, letting them run rampant like this means that eventually they’ll crash, and you’ll be stuck trying to get whiny, teary-eyed children back into the car…never a fun assignment. So have a set time to call it quits, even if the kids are having a good time; it may make you the bad guy in the short term, but it’ll be worth it later on.
  4. 4. Set aside some alone time
    When traveling with a family, sometimes it’s easy to forget that you need time to relax too. Set aside a couple hours during your vacation that are just for you. Read a book on the beach, take a nice, relaxing dip in the pool, or even just go for a walk by yourself. It will give you an opportunity to recharge mentally and emotionally. Remember, this is your vacation too.

Hopefully these tips give you some ideas on how to make your next family vacation a little more enjoyable for everybody, so you can return to work and school feeling fully refreshed and rejuvenated.

Michael Newsham is a Philadelphia-based musician with oodles of nieces and nephews he’s often too tired to entertain. On the bright side, he gets to give THOSE kids back when he’s wiped out.