Little girl, dad, mom, and little boy holding hands and walking on the beach.
The trick to taking a vacation that is actually relaxing is planning ahead.
Photo Credit: Mom with a Map

Fun in the Sun: How to Get the Most out of Your Summer Vacation

How to Maximize on Summer Fun

I love the expression “failing to plan is planning to fail.” Recently my husband and I were sitting in church when that phrase came up. I had to elbow him with a smirk. It’s fun to be right. And it’s even better when backed up by your pastor!

Later that day I brought up the topic hoping to draw out the full concession speech from my husband. You see, since I met the man, he’s resisted my need for a plan.

I will admit, I can be a tad extreme. This type-A girl loves nothing more than a well thought out itinerary. And while planning seems to stress out my spontaneous husband, I really can’t function without a schedule.

For years we butted heads. But recently, I think the idea has grown on him. In fact, he surrendered full control (yep, I LOVE that!) over our travel schedules. Though he won’t admit it, I think he’s realized how much smoother things run with a plan. He’s a big believer that vacations should be relaxing.

And while I do a agree to a certain extent, it’s hard to relax when you miss a flight or show up to a restaurant with an hour wait and two starving children.

I can certainly respect the fact that my husband doesn’t want to have every second of his vacation scheduled. But the reality is that things just go better when I spend some time planning. Even a rough or tentative plan is better than none at all!

Whether you’re heading out to various summer vacation destinations in the USA or skipping over to the other side of the world, you want to make the most of your holidays. Here are a few tips you can use when planning your summer travel.

Low Expectations

I lead with this tip because it’s one I’ve learned the hard way over the years. Traveling with kids is awesome, but it takes work.

Thinking my children will entertain themselves while I read three books on the beach is not realistic. Likewise, expecting them to behave perfectly for 6 hours in a museum where they can’t touch anything is laughable.

Kids have energy. They get cranky when they aren’t fed regularly. They always need the bathroom at inconvenient times. Their attention span isn’t great. (And if I’m being honest, I could say all of those statements about myself too!)

Going into your summer vacation with low expectations will make you feel like a rock star when things go well!


I cannot emphasize this enough: be realistic. Overestimate the amount of time it will take you to do anything.

If it takes you 30 minutes to get to the airport on the very best day, don’t give yourself 35 and plan to drive through Chick-fil-A! (Yes that happened, and no we didn’t make our flight!)

Also when planning to make stops or visit destinations, don’t over-book your time. What can you actually do in a given amount of time?


Pack what you need. And then pack what you might need.

Just because you don’t want it to be cold or rainy on your vacation doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Check the weather. Know what to expect. But, prepare for alternatives.

There is nothing worse than being stuck without items that you wish you thought to bring. For example, you might think your beach packing list would be as simple as swimsuits, towels and sunblock. You’ll find, however, that there are plenty of other supplies you should bring to plan for every contingency!

Additionally, have a Plan B. What are you going to do if your outdoor activity gets rained out? Don’t let something as unpredictable as weather ruin your vacation!

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Nothing can ruin a vacation faster than a lack of sleep. If your kid naps, don’t expect them to be well-behaved for four days straight without a nap.

Likewise, don’t plan to stay out late and get up early every day for a week. It doesn’t work for adults and it really doesn’t work for kids!

On vacation I typically throw out bedtimes and even nap schedules. But I still make sure we’re all getting the sleep we need to enjoy a trip!

Good Attitude

I will admit, I’m writing this for myself. I have a tendency to lose my mind if my plans don’t go the way I plan.

I honestly struggle to regain composure if something doesn’t work out the way I thought it would. So many times I wish I could have a do-over when I overreact in a situation.

Nine times out of 10 things work out better than I planned. This is when having a spontaneous husband comes in handy!

If things go wrong, if the weather stinks, if your kids are horrible, if you’re late for something — just relax! You’re making memories.

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