15 Things that would make family vacations better

Mar 4, 2014 at 3:00 p.m. ET

When asked what would make family vacations better, a good friend of mine answered, "no kids!" In lieu of leaving the children at home, here are fifteen ways that you can make your family vacation even better than last year.

Family going on vacation
Photo credit: Flying colours Ltd. / Photodisc / Getty Images

Don't skimp

When in Rome, right? Once you've made the trek to your destination, go ahead and do what you want to do in terms of activities. It's often the small expenses of vacations — like restaurants and drinks — that will break your budget, rather than the big activities.


Use a cash system

Speaking of breaking the bank, you can avoid vacation regret by taking out a pre-determined amount of cash each morning for your variable expenses, and stop spending when it's gone. This will help you avoid the sinking feeling of frightening credit card statements once you return from vaycay.


Break a few rules

Even if you're a highly-structured mom, vacation is not the time to enforce all your rules from back home. Let your kids eat Cheetos and go to bed late. They'll be OK.


Look fabulous

We all have those vacation pictures that are regrettable, at best. Get spruced up once or twice so you can look fresh-faced and fabulous in at least a few photographs.


Forget expectations

You're doomed if you go into your vacation expecting it to be the best time ever. Soak up each moment and forget your overarching expectations.


Make it adult

Sorry, but a family vacation isn't relaxing unless you get a few date nights. Check into lodgings that offer child care so you can reconnect with your spouse.


Expand your horizons

Diverge from your family's norms to try local foods and cultural experiences. Even if your kids whine, they'll eventually thank you for making them so well-rounded.


Go light on activities

Fun activities are great, but only in small quantities. Pick just one big activity for each day so you and your family can actually relax and enjoy.


Give yourself "me" time

Mama, you deserve a break every now and then. Give yourself time to read or go to the spa without your kids or spouse.


Splurge on a landing spot

The place you rest your head at night makes a huge difference to the overall feel of a vacation. Splurge on a hotel that has great bedding and amenities for restful nights. It's also wise to book separate rooms for kids and adults.


Imbibe with joy

Unless there's a reason for you to avoid alcohol, go ahead and drink up. Stop counting calories and enjoy a few glasses of wine with dinner to further set the mood for relaxation. It might even lead to fantastic vacation sex (but only if you book two rooms!).


Cook family meals

Cut your expenses by cooking at least a few meals in your hotel room. You'll save a ton of money, and you'll also be able to enjoy the natural rhythm of life with no rush.


Check your bags

Warning: the siren song of free carry-on bags is a death trap when you're traveling with kids. Your carry-on bags need to be filled with supplies to survive the flight, rather than supplies for the actual vacation. Go ahead and check your big luggage to avoid a giant headache.


Forget ambition

Especially with young children, give yourself permission to vacation in destinations that are close to home. Schlepping cross-country just may not be worth it.


Limit your snapshots

Take just a few pictures each day to document your travels. If you take too many pictures, you risk missing out on the actual memories.

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