We just returned from our much-needed, long-awaited, highly-anticipated beach vacation. As with many families, our vacations always look better in the planning stages, than they do from the metaphorical Rear View Mirror of Real Life…

Every year I arrive home a poorer, slightly wiser version of myself. I’m no fancy Travel Blogger, but I did compile a short list of guidelines to refer to when planning next year’s vacation. You might find these tips helpful as well.

Don’t bring your kids…

We love our kids, we really do, but they’ve been known to rain on our parade. They simply introduce a different element to the “travel experience” with their likes/dislikes, high standards, unsolicited opinions and general disdain for anyone over the age of 35.

The only thing worse than listening to them snipe at one another, is when they join forces against their parents. Indeed, there were brief glimpses of sibling solidarity when united against a common foe – us.

They mocked our music, barely smirked at our jokes, spoke a slanguage we didn’t understand and then rolled their eyes when we asked for clarification or a definition. The Millennial Wordofthe-Week was “peep.” Once we looked it up in the Urban Dictionary and understood it contextually, we tried to use it as casually and often as possible.

(Example: “Peep your favorite Ginger as she stars in her kids’ Snap Chat Stories all week!”)

Honestly, leave your children at home. They’ll just cost you money and make you wait longer at restaurants for a table.

If you Do bring your kids, don’t let them bring friends…

You might read this and assume that maybe we didn’t like the kids our kids brought along on the trip. Au Contraire! In fact, we liked them more than we liked our own offspring.

It’s just that it didn’t take long before we remembered that NO FAMILY can withstand the intense level of scrutiny that comes from 7 straight days in a Condo with non-family members.

It’s like being under a microscope!

When tension inevitably erupted (every 5-6 minutes or so) I couldn’t help but obsess over what our young guests would be reporting back to their folks about us.

If I wanted our family drama peeped that closely, I would try to book us on our own Reality TV series and generate a little income. We had more than a few dicey vacation moments that would’ve made the Kardashians look downright “peace” in comparison.

If you do let your kids bring guests, do treat them as if they were your very own…

Mid way through our week, my daughter’s friend twisted her ankle walking out of a restaurant. I want to stress that I neglected this child as if she were my very own flesh and blood – which is to say that I barely peeped the situation.

Imagine my chagrin when she ended up in a boot a few days after our trip was over. Apparently her parents insisted upon an X-ray when she hobbled back through their front door. And, I am pretty sure that’s when they imposed their own “travel ban.”

3 more Do’s and another Don’t

Do consider giving the kids a modest stipend…It might feel like you’re paying them to hang out with you, but you’re really paying them to not hang out with you

Don’t opt for a lump sum at the beginning of the trip…It’s best to divide the funds out “per diem style.” Otherwise, you’ll be back on your bank app doing money transfers – anything to buy them off for for the last few days of peace that would be had at a hefty price.

Do remember they’re called the “friendly skies” for a reason…  Not to say the 15 hour drive down with our kids wasn’t an absolute joy, but when we spontaneously decided to fly ourselves home and let our kids drive the car back, we high-fived ourselves all the way home from the airport. Trust me – You won’t miss another round of the car game, “20 Questions!”

Do snap as many pictures as possible the first few days…Young people get less photogenic and far less cooperative after limbs are fractured and the money stream has dried up.