You often hear parents complaining that they need a vacation after their vacation when they take their kids. This can be especially true if you’re a mom, and you may feel like you’re saddled with doing all the work when you travel.

It doesn’t have to be this way, though.

There are things you can do to reduce the stress of a family vacation so that you can actually enjoy it, rather than feeling like you’ve transferred all of your responsibilities to your destination.

The following are some tips to help you truly relax on a family vacation.

Research and Plan Ahead

While you might like the idea of just throwing caution to the wind and doing whatever you want when you travel, family vacations aren’t very conducive to that attitude. It’s better, in all honesty, to plan everything you can ahead of time.

Start researching your destination well ahead of your departure, so you know what to expect and you can get a feel for things, even if it’s only virtually.

You should also buy tickets for attractions you plan to visit ahead of time whenever you can. This gives you a general itinerary for your trip, so everyone isn’t arguing over what they want to do, and you can save time that you’d have to otherwise spend waiting in line.

Know the things your family most wants to do, and plan for those, and whenever possible, you should also make dining reservations, especially if you have a larger group.

Quick ways to make everyone feel stressed and grumpy include hunger and having to wait around for everything.

Even if you don’t plan every second of your trip, having a loose plan will help you make sure you touch on the things you care most about, and you won’t feel like you’re driving around aimlessly or stuck without tickets to things that are sold out.

Skip the Airbnb

Airbnb and similar home and apartment rental companies can be a great option when you’re somewhere like a foreign country, and you want to get a true feel for the experience outside of the tourist areas.

They do have downsides, however, especially if you really want to relax.

You might find yourself cooking, washing dishes, and doing laundry on your vacation.

If it fits your budget and your family’s needs, you might be better off with a hotel rental instead so that you can have those things done for you. It can be more expensive to eat out for your meals and have your laundry done, but again, it might be an expense that’s worth it to you.

You’ll often hear just the opposite advice on travel sites. You’ll see writers saying it’s better to have a rental where you can prepare meals and do your laundry, especially if you have kids, but is that really what you want to spend your limited vacation time doing?

Choose the Right Trip for the Age of Your Children

Older kids can probably go on pretty much any type of trip and be fine. For example, they might enjoy museums, the beach, shows and all the things you also like. With younger kids, you have to be a little more mindful of what an appropriate type of trip is going to be.

When your kids are younger, it can be a good idea to keep things simple. Focus on places that have activities that will easily entertain little kids, like pools and sandy beaches.

These are things that can entertain young children for hours, and that’s the time where you’ll really be able to relax.

If you go to an all-inclusive resort, you might even find that they have kid’s clubs. This is great because they’ll have trained professionals and great activities that your kids will love, and you can sneak away for quiet time.

Additionally, you’ll need to think about what the impact of traveling in a different time zone can have on your kids.

For example, if you have a baby or toddler, going somewhere in a different time zone it requires a lot of preparation and packing of essential supplies like baby formula milk, diapers, and snacks, and can make it very difficult for them to get on a normal sleep schedule, and this will obviously affect you as well.

Don’t Look At Any Trip As Being “Once-in-a-Lifetime”

Trips are expensive and take a lot of planning, so it’s understandable that you can have a lot of expectations. You have to let those go. If you go into your trip thinking it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you’re putting pressure on yourself and everyone you’re traveling with.

Don’t look at it that way.

Look at it as something to enjoy at the moment, and if you really like it, maybe you’ll do it again. When you make your expectations too high, you’re not just going to feel more stressed, but you’re also more likely to feel disappointed.

Be realistic and know that life isn’t Pinterest or Instagram.

Be Careful About Who You Travel With

If traveling with your in-laws alleviates some of the stress on you and they can take on some of the childcare duties, then great, have them come along by all means. However, if you don’t enjoy someone’s company or maybe you have very different travel styles, it’s okay to go without them.

It’s your vacation.

Pack Several Days in Advance and Unpack As Soon As You Arrive

A lot of being able to relax on a family vacation is about how you feel.

Packing at least three days before your trip can help you start to feel in control and organized, and that can carry over into your actual vacation.

When you pack at least three days ahead of time, you have a good idea of what you need, and you have the chance to think about what you might be missing.

Then, once you arrive at your destination, unpack right away. Organize everything for yourself and, if necessary, your kids. That way, you’ll feel ready to start your trip with things in their place.

It’s tough, but you can manage to relax while traveling with family, but it takes some planning and strategizing.