Four Ways to Survive Your Vacation

Nearly every family takes one in the summer. Will yours be successful?

By FamilyTime


Whether you are about to leave for vacation, have just returned, or are enjoying your time off right now, this year's vacation may be the best yet -- or you may succumb to some all-too-familiar problems.

Here are four universal problems vacationers commonly encounter -- and ideas for overcoming them.

1. Together All the Time
Family vacations can be stressful precisely because the family is together. Sound ironic? Face it, when you're home, every family member has his or her own routine. On vacation, the emphasis is on "togetherness." This can be wearing.

Find out what your kids want to do. If some family members don't like hikes, don't force them to climb a mountain. If a few like to shop, plan time for some browsing.

Read guide books, websites, and local newspapers and bulletin boards to discover events that everyone might enjoy. This could be a country fair or a blockbuster movie.

For historical sightseeing trips, read up on the lore. This will make the walking tour or museum far more interesting. Sign on for guided tours, which can breathe life into historical monuments. (Be sure the tour is not too long or weary for young kids.)

Make time for exercise. Kids get restless after driving around in cars and poking in shops and museums. Stop at parks, beaches, or pools to give them time to let off steam. Throw a ball around with them, fly kites, or sign up for a kayacking trip -- make it fun.

2. Money Worries
For automobile trips, some travel experts estimate a family of four should figure on spending between $300 and $400 a day -- or from $75 to $100 per person. This amount includes gas, lodging, food and miscellaneous.

Vacations that involve air travel cost more.

To avoid post-travel financial woes, plan wisely. Pay for part of the trip before you leave. This might be a few nights in a hotel or tickets to an amusement park.

If you can, pay as you go. If you don't want to stop at ATMs to replenish your supply of cash (never carry much!), use a debit card that automatically withdraws money from your account as you use it. This way, you won't be hit with huge credit card bills later.

Strike a balance between splurging and foolish spending. Don't worry if a meal costs more than expected or if the kids have ice cream cones every day.

At the same time, keep track of what you spend and put on the brakes when you begin to get anxious. Before you leave, determine not to eat in fancy restaurants more than once or twice. Reconsider that over-priced souvenir.

3. Things Will Go Wrong
You've heard about the best-laid plans going awry. Expect them to. Even the most meticulously planned vacation will encounter stumbling blocks.

Expect delayed flights, rainy weather, and long lines. Fuming is not relaxing. Instead, anticipate these sorts of hurdles, and rejoice when things go smoothly!

4. Relaxation Begins at Home
Very often, the weeks and days leading up to a vacation are fraught with frenzy. Some of us write copious memos to our co-workers, frantically clean the house, pay every last bill, and worry our neighbors to distraction about watering the garden.

Try to relax. Make lists and prioritize pre-vacation chores. The world won't fall apart while you are away.

If you leave for vacation exhausted, it will take that much longer to unwind.

And what about the problem of not feeling relaxed until the last day or two of your vacation? This is fairly common. If you feel this way after a week, try to arrange for two weeks off next summer.