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How to *Actually* Relax During Your Family Vacation

These 10 foolproof tips put the whole “vacation” part back into your next family getaway, because who needs R&R more than parents?

For many parents out there, the idea of “vacation” flies out the window as soon as the word “family” is added before it. The whole idea is to spend time with your entire crew, away from home, making lasting memories—but regardless of locale, your kids have (many, many) needs to be met (at all hours, but especially when you’ve just sat down).

Because family vacation and relaxation doesn’t go hand-in-hand, any stretch of non-stop togetherness definitely warrants some downtime. Stay covered with these tips that even your kids can’t thwart (and don’t include sticking them in front of their tablets for hours on end). Read on for 10 ways to get more R&R on your family vacay—no matter how hectic your getaway gets.

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PHOTO: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock
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Invite More Family

This might sound crazy, but it’s not! “The more the merrier” really applies here and here’s why: Aligning your vacation with other family members means you can plan to cover each other for date nights or solo outings. So call your cousin with kids or invite your in-laws, and treat each other to pre-planned, uninterrupted downtime.

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PHOTO: Olga Enger/Shutterstock
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Let Friends Tag Along

Again, adding more mouths to feed might not sound like a safe bet for ensuring a more relaxing vacation. But if you encourage your kids to bring a friend they play nicely with, it will help keep them happily occupied while still experiencing the family vacation. And if the stars really align, the friend’s parents might be inclined to take your little one away with them next time.

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PHOTO: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock
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Go Family-Friendly

You might be dreaming of five-star experiences, but let’s be real: your kid doesn’t want tuna tartare, and you don’t want the judgement that comes when they start behaving in age-appropriate ways at an over-the-top venue. Choosing family-friendly accommodations and restaurants helps ensure less stress and smooth(er) sailing. Get your fix and get your fancy on during kid-free outings.

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PHOTO: Africa Studio/Shutterstock
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Movies Are a Must

A family-friendly movie night is something the whole gang can get excited about. Whether you choose a crowd-favorite or something everyone’s been waiting to see, use it as a way to build in a couple hours of (relative) quiet whenever you need it most.

INSIDER TIPDon’t forget the popcorn; they’ll be asking for it before the opening scene!

 

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PHOTO: Tomsickova Tatyana/Shutterstock
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Do It up During the Day

This one applies simple logic: if you pack the days and free up the nights, everyone’s bound to be lower-key come evening time. The busier and more active you are during the day with whatever the area has to offer, the more ready your crew will be to crash at a decent hour.

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PHOTO: leungchopan/Shutterstock
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Think Age-Appropriate Entertainment

Some kids can play with Legos for hours on end, where others are happily occupied with a stack of books. Whatever fascinates your child, and holds their  attention (quietly), stock up and bring it along. Nothing beats, “I’m bored, entertain me” like games, blocks, and other kid-friendly activities at-the-ready—especially ones that that you know they love, or have been wanting to try.

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PHOTO: VGstockstudio/Shutterstock
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Appeal to Their Inner Artist

Create an art station for a happy distraction when they’re feeling inspired. This tip is even better if you’re also someone who likes to color or create. Whether you’re making a masterpiece together or you’re watching them glue feathers and pipe cleaners to paper plates from your lounger, art is a great way to channel their energy in a safe, happy way.

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PHOTO: Makistock/Shutterstock
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Water Works

Find accommodations with pool or beach access. If you have a partner, agree to take turns keeping your full attention on the kids at play while the other one reads or otherwise relaxes. If not, find a comfortable chair to settle into that’s in an area where they can play safely with you looking on. Bonus points for how tuckered out kids tend to be after splashing around!

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PHOTO: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock
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Negotiate Ad-hoc Naps

Just like the tip to newborn mothers goes, when you’re on vacation with your kids, nap when (and if) they nap. Even if they gave up napping years ago, it’s amazing what a bit of vacation can do. The fresh air, sights, and sounds are extra exciting and stimulating, encouraging a surprise snooze where it otherwise wouldn’t exist—or longer rests for littler ones.

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Schedule a Slow Restart

Vacationing with family is no joke. The packing and traveling itself is exhausting regardless of all other activities. If you can manage it, give yourself a buffer day—or at least a few hours—to settle back in at home before returning to your regular schedule. Arrange a caretaker so you can rest, recoup, unpack, and regroup before diving back into the real world.