Vacations can be a lot of fun, with memories that last for years. They can also be a headache that ends with everyone arguing and no one having a good time. You have control over which way your next trip goes. Use these five trips to ensure your next family vacation is one that you look back on with a smile. 

1. Pack What Matters Most

There is a lot to be said for traveling light, but you don’t want to do it at the expense of your physical or emotional comfort. Sometimes. Keeping the things that matter most to you nearby is worth the hassle of packing them along on vacation.

Some items that you might want to pack include a favorite pair of dress shoes (even if you don’t think you’ll wear them), a special photograph of a loved one, or your go-to snack item that you wouldn’t want to go a week without. Just try not to take the idea too far, or you’ll end up with tons of extra baggage fees. 

2. Be Photo Ready Every Day

If you look washed out and dull in every picture, it won’t be long before you stop taking your phone out to capture the trip’s best moments. Luckily, making sure you look great in vacation photos isn’t as tough as it might seem. In fact, you don’t even have to know how to use editing software to look great.

If you want a completely natural approach, consider bringing your favorite skin care products along on the trip. The right face serum can help give you a bright, glowing complexion that looks great in pictures as you reflect on vacation memories. Those who are a bit more tech-savvy might want to use special filters to accentuate the effects more. 

3. Venture From Your Itinerary

Sometimes, the best trips are those you didn’t fully plan for. Allowing yourself some flexibility once you get to your destination can help turn a good trip into a truly great one. For example, if you are in San Francisco and want to visit Alcatraz, you might find spending a day exploring the wharf is just as rewarding. 

Another benefit of taking side trips is that it gives you a chance to support local businesses. To find places worth stopping, try asking some locals what their favorite restaurants and attractions are. There’s a good chance you’ll get some suggestions that don’t show up in most travel guides. 

4. Leave Your Car Behind

Scenic drives are wonderful, but if you spend the majority of your trip looking at the world through a windshield. you are bound to miss some subtle details. Just because you don’t have a car doesn’t mean you’ll miss out. In fact, many places are adapting to promote more foot and bicycle traffic, especially in downtown city areas. Consider the following ideas to help you find non-motorized ways to explore your destination:

  • Head out on a walking city tour
  • Take a hike in a nearby park
  • Go fishing on a lake or river
  • Rent bicycles and hit the road in a different way
  • Participate in a location-based scavenger hunt

5. Pick Your Travel Companions Wisely

Unless you are planning a family vacation where everyone has to be included, consider taking smaller trips with individual family members. For example, you and your partner may enjoy a weekend spa retreat, while teenagers will likely prefer to stay at home with their friends. On the other hand, if you plan a trip to a local amusement park, you’ll probably want to include the kids.

There is no reason why anyone has to give up on their preference; simply make it into separate trips that each have a focus. For some families, that could mean rotating their favorite destination every few months to ensure everyone gets a say. 

A little planning goes a long way to ensure your next family vacation is memorable. Start by packing the things that matter most and take a little extra care, so you look great in all the pictures you capture. Then be willing to venture out of the car and off the itinerary to find some great local attractions.