How to survive that family vacation and make everyone happy

It always starts out as a good idea, take a family vacation. You can imagine it, everyone getting along happy, making special memories, but, it never seems to work out that way. Half the time you are glad to be home from the vacation and everyone goes to their room and ignores everyone else as everyone is mad. It doesn’t have to be that way. With a little planning, and having the right expectations, you can have a great family vacation that will be remembered for years. You will have the family wanting another one, and not dreading the words “family vacation” for the next decade.

Loosen up

First of all, loosen up, this is a vacation. If your child wants a candy bar, let them have one, they want to stay up past their bedtime, let them. Try not to say no to everything, back home, no is a knee-jerk reaction, but on vacation, you can’t enforce the rules the same, so loosen up. It will also have the benefit of making it less stressful for you as you aren’t always trying to micromanage the rules.

Book a house

Instead of booking a hotel with multiple hotel rooms, use a service like Airbnb or others to book a house with multiple bedrooms instead. It’s often cheaper than multiple hotel rooms, and it will be a lot less stressful if everyone is in the same place. You can even make food as there is generally a kitchen.

Plan some separation

Yes, it’s a family vacation, but expect that you need some separation. The kids will not want to do the same as you. Teenagers especially. So, plan on letting them do their own thing for a bit, you are still there as a family, but you don’t have to be glued together. What you enjoy is not always what everyone else enjoys.


As stated before, what you enjoy is not always what everyone wants to do, so compromise. The only part of the vacation is yours, the rest is the families, so make the effort to find things you all enjoy or at least things that are near each other.


Teenagers will definitely have their own ideas of what they want to do for the vacation. Even if it is sitting in their room with an iPad. Point out though that if they take pictures and selfies at cool places that their friends will be impressed and you will see them perk up. Use the technology, don’t fight against it.

Me time

Even if it is a family vacation, everyone needs a little me time. Especially the boss. Sometimes it might be a romantic dinner without the kids, or just sitting in the garden watching the clouds. Make some time for yourself, to relax. It won’t cut into the family vacation, and it will relax you enough that you won’t mind having your picture taken with Barney the dragon the next afternoon.

Don’t expect a storybook vacation

As we said in the beginning, you might have seen movies about happy family vacations, but the bigger reality is it is more like the comedy movies of bad ones if you don’t plan well. Expect there will be clashes of personality and people wanting or not wanting to do things. If your family is perfect at home and happy? More power to you, then they will probably be fine on vacation. But if your family doesn’t always run smoothly, then a vacation is the testing ground for that. Just plan and do the best you can.

Set expectations

Make sure you and everyone going understands what is going to happen on vacation. Everyone has expectations, make sure they are all understood. You will be able to stop a lot of problems ahead of time if you actually listen to others when they talk about what they want or don’t want. If you are telling a child they will love hiking in the woods and they are staring at their iPad and don’t want that, then when you get there, don’t expect them to change their minds. Even if they do change their minds if you made a point of it, they will not tell you. You are just opening yourself up for pain. So discuss the vacation and what you plan and get everyone’s input, as they are all going to be there, as it’s their vacation too. The vacation isn’t all about you

Family vacations can be remembered throughout life, they can be remembered good or bad, so it’s your choice. A good family vacation will bring you all closer together, and isn’t that what you really want? So adjust expectations, plan a bit and make sure everyone is on board with the plans. Don’t just force them all to your way of thinking. That never works and you will regret it more than you know. Listen and make the effort to make it a great vacation that everyone enjoys and is part of. We wish you the best.