When I was a kid, my Thanksgivings were spent in crowded airports on the way to visit my family on the opposite coast. To make the most of our trip, my parents would always plan some sort of small getaway like Gettysburg or New York City to get some good-ole family bonding time in. It took time to perfect, but we finally figured out how to not have one of those nightmare-ish family vacations. Here are a few tips for anyone planning to travel during the holidays :) ~ Plan in advance. Planning ahead will save you money on the big vacation expenses like airfare, hotels, and even attractions. You'll be saving money AND lightening your stress load! ~ Have realistic expectations. A successful family vacation might be wonderful and will hold many great memories, but it probably is not going to change your lives. Don’t expect vacation time to fix problems at home or work. ~ Leave work at home. Unless you have one of those jobs where you absolutely must be on call - don’t take work with you or check your e-mail. It may take you some time when you get back to work to get back up to speed, but your family deserves your full attention! ~ Relax. You cannot see everything, do everything, and experience everything in one week. Don’t even try. Don’t plan out every minute of your vacation. Leave room in your schedule for spontaneity! ~ Make time for your own kind of fun. For example, I love to read, and that means having some quiet alone time without my loud wonderful family. Everyone will have more fun when everyone has fun, so it’s not selfish to prioritize some time for yourself. ~ Leave plenty of time to get where you need to be. Nothing takes the pleasure out of a vacation faster than missing a plane, arriving late to a show, standing in an enormously long line because you arrived at a peak time, or having to keep screaming, "Hurry up! Hurry up!" ~ Document happy memories. One of the best ways to make ourselves happy in the present is to recall happy times from the past, so making the effort to take pictures and videos, keep trip books, or gather souvenirs will really boost your happiness later.