Are your family vacations a dream come true or a living nightmare? Here are five tips to make time together with family more enjoyable for everyone.

1. Set a budget. Money is at the center of many family squabbles. The cause of the monetary conflict doesn’t seem to matter-discord and disillusionment are the result. Your cash flow is barely a trickle. Your spouse resents the amount you have to pay in alimony. Your children think money grows on trees because everyone else in their circle of acquaintances spends without regard to cost. You think you deserve more than you have.

Put these negative thoughts aside and focus on what money or resources you can use for a family vacation. Choose options that will allow you to have a good time and not return to a mountain of new debt. Reduce conflict by first deciding how to pay for your vacation instead of later debating how to pay the bills.

2. Hold a family meeting.

Who hasn’t dreamed of a perfect vacation when work is overwhelming or class is boring? Just as we all dream, we all need an opportunity to share our dreams and desires.

Once a vacation budget has been set by those footing the bill, hold a family meeting. Start by sharing what options are available at the price you can afford. Let everyone share ideal destinations and activities that fall below this limit. Brainstorm. Prioritize. Work together to come up with plans that meet part of each person’s preferences. This cuts down on disappointment and conflict.

3. Practice being thankful.

Teach this concept at your family meeting, in the planning stages of your vacation time. Model an attitude of gratitude. Make a game of it. Steer clear of statements like “I guess I’m thankful for these dumb games, but it’s not what I want” or “I’m thankful we only have to spend another day here.” Children and adults who look for the good in situations will have happier memories and will create less drama and conflict when things don’t go their way.

4. Plan ahead.

We have all heard about fantastic last minute deals. Friends and co-workers who have no children, few responsibilities, and no one else’s feelings to consider are quick to boast about their travel bargains. You, however, are not alone.

You do have to make travel arrangements for a large group. At the end of the day-especially a long day of hiking through airports, making connections, being cooped up in the car, or dealing with unfamiliar territory-you and everyone travelling with you will want to know three things. Where is the bathroom? What is there to eat? Where do I sleep? Having the answers to these questions as soon as you arrive at your destination will relieve tensions.

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