Essential family vacation tips

Family vacations can be the most magical time of our childhood, and they can be quite magical for parents too – when they go right. A family vacation gone wrong can be a nightmare of spoiled adults and creepy children. Here's how you can secure magical memories instead of ones you'd rather forget:

Involve children in the planning phase

If they are old enough to talk, then they are old enough to talk about your vacation plans. Children should be asked what their expectations for the holiday are and what they would like to be able to do. They should know where they are going – try to delight them about the location. You should have already thought about why this would be perfect for the whole family, so tell them. Communicating expectations well in advance can later avoid uncomfortable attitudes and disappointment – it can also help you build excitement about your very special adventure.

But don't let kids make all the decisions

Of course, children (even bolshie teens) should not be allowed to direct you into something you do not want to do. A common mistake people make is to put pressure on children and end up on vacation (say in a theme park) they never wanted to be on. Of course there will be some compromise on all sides, but the best family holidays are those that everyone, adults and children, can enjoy. And children, of course, do not always know what is best. They may mourn on active holidays, hiking or biking, but when they go outside, they may have the time of their lives. That's why parents sometimes just have to determine the law.

Be ready

Make sure you have done the basic research. Make sure all documentation is in order. Always have water, wet wipes and snacks on hand. Be sure to get a first aid kit for all small emergencies. Use basic common sense and pack accordingly. Allow your kids to pack their own bags, plug them in and be active to take part in them, but be sure to check on the toddler bags to ensure they don't just have their toys packed and have basics.

Keep the kids busy

Don't give them space for thinking or boredom. Children who have fun and active activities on vacation are far less likely to be surprised or naughty. Remember to turn them on so they don't feel like they are being dragged from one place to another. They would just be too tired of all the fun they were having fun with. Get things moving and everyone is far more likely to have a good time. A busy mind and body make for a happy child and happy parents.

But factor in vacation time

Make sure, however, that there is plenty of time to rest and relax the kids – no one would enjoy a rhythmic beat. This is a holiday too, so be sure to have plenty of time for rest and relaxation between fun activities and trips. Even if they don't know they are too busy – you will undoubtedly!