blow up ball, sandals and beach items

Family vacations often sound fun and exciting - until you start the journey. Once you're on the road, forgotten items, whining kids, or lost tickets may make you wish you'd just stayed home.

But family vacations don't have to be stressful. By making a few simple preparations in advance, it's even possible to relax on your family holiday. Being prepared will help you handle any minor setbacks that you encounter during your trip, so that you can sit back and take time to recharge. Through careful planning, packing, and budgeting, you can help keep your trip enjoyable for all.

Planning
You can make every aspect of your trip easier through planning ahead. As a starting point, write out daily itineraries that show where your family plans to be for each segment of your vacation. Next, make sure that all of your paperwork, tickets, passports, visas (if you are planning to go abroad) etc. are in one safe place before you head off to your destination.

You may want to see a show, try a new activity, or visit a theme park while you're travelling. If you and your family are interested in attending an event that requires tickets, check to see if it would benefit you to pay in advance. Early booking can save you cash, and prevent disappointment if an event sells out. Simply by doing a little research, and making a few calls, you can help your family avoid unpleasant surprises during your travels.

You may like the idea of having some spontaneity on your vacation, but when kids are involved, too much uncertainty can lead to disaster. Stick to a general daily structure, and you're more likely to have happy kids and a successful journey. Moreover, try to have a few back-up plans in mind. Weather or an unexpected illness can wreak havoc on the best-laid plans.

Packing
Forgetting important items can put a damper on your trip and a dent in your wallet. This is especially true if you are attending a resort or a hilly area, where many everyday items - such as hats, sunglasses, or sunscreen - are either unavailable or overpriced.

Avoid having to purchase items that you already own by taking care to bring them with you. Make a list of what you need to pack for each family member, and check it twice before you leave the house.

Although it's difficult to pack light with children, do your best to stay streamlined. Many hotels will have supplies such as soaps and shampoo, so don't overload yourself with items you don't need.

Budgeting
Kids and parents alike can be thrown off the course by the temptation of vacation shopping. Yet it's important to know exactly how much you're going to spend on your trip, unless you want to be surprised at the end by an unexpectedly large credit card bill or a completely empty wallet.

Before the trip begins, parents should sit down to set a vacation budget. Figure out how much to allot each day for hotels, transportation, food, activities, and sundries--and stick to it. Surprises can be budgeted, too. For example, figure out how much each child can spend on souvenirs and activities. If you involve them in this decision-making process, you'll also be teaching them important skills about how to manage money.

HealthAhead Hint: Be Prepared For Fun
Taking an organized approach to your family vacation can go a long way toward reducing your stress levels. You may worry that being too methodical in your planning, packing, and budgeting will take the flexibility out of your vacation plans. But remember, by being organized you can actually free up your time, energy, and resources to have fun on your vacation. Better yet, you will return home relaxed and recharged from your journey.