Vacations are meant to be a time to relax and recharge our batteries, but more often than not, we end up overscheduling activities, overspending, and fretting over traffic and airport delays so that by the time you get home, you need a vacation to recover from your vacation. The following tips will help to reduce stress and maximize the fun of your next family vacation.

Plan Activities as a Family

Choosing which activities and attractions to visit while on vacation is one of the major sources of disagreement and stress during any family trip. Be sure to include the entire family in the destination discussion, and let each family member choose at least one group activity for the trip. Limit your time to just a few things for each person. Over scheduling is sure to put a cramp in your schedule.

Allow for Downtime

Even though it may be tempting, resist the urge to schedule activities every minute of the day. If you have younger children, try to arrange for breaks around their usual nap times to avoid temper tantrums. Teens will appreciate the chance to check in with their friends online and take a break from the activities as well. Many families find that a vacation rental house or condo is more relaxing and comfortable than a hotel, and this way there is more space for everyone to spread out and have a little peace and quiet during downtime.

Transportation Woes

Navigating a strange city can be nerve wracking. Consider using a local Yellow Cab service or airport and hotel shuttles to get around town. The cost will likely be less than what you would spend on a rental car and you will save yourself the aggravation of trying to find your way around a new place. You may even get some insider tips on great places to eat and some must-see attractions.

Decide When to Splurge

A family vacation can easily top $3,000 with the majority of the money going toward food and accommodations. One way to reduce cost is to book a hotel or rental with kitchen facilities. Instead of eating every meal out, you can have cereal, sandwiches, or other inexpensive foods on hand, which saves both money and time. You should also avoid purchasing your souvenirs at major resorts and theme parks. You can usually find the same items at shopping centers a few miles away at much better prices.

Finally, allow yourself to be flexible. Some of the most memorable moments occur when you decide to be spontaneous. For example, if your youngster is not in the mood to wait for a seat at a restaurant, consider grabbing items for a picnic at a nearby park or ordering pizza and having a game night at your hotel. Don’t let your vacation stress you out and use it as a chance to truly relax.