Ahhhh, summer! Time for sun and fun and — family vacations! If you look forward to a summer trip all year long, then do what you can to ensure its success before you even hop in the car. Here are some key tips for planning a peaceful summer family vacation.

Get the kids involved. Ask them where they want to go or what they want to do when they get there. Assign them each a day to plan or an outing to lead. Giving them ownership in the planning will make them more excited about the trip and more likely to enjoy the adventure.

Pack as a team. Ask each child to create a packing list for their own suitcase—which you can double check together. That way you’ll be sure they’re equipped with the clothes and activities they wanted to bring, as well as the stuff you know they’ll need.

Build in margin. Maybe you’re the kind of family that wants to go-go-go. Yet if your objective is to get some rest and relaxation, be sure you’re also including down time in your itinerary. Worn out kids are crabby kids. Same goes for parents.

Agree to be kind. As much as we anticipate abundant joy and relaxation throughout the family vacation, let’s face it—sometimes all that togetherness can spark squabbles. Create a simple contract beforehand agreeing to “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). Anytime tension arises, point to the agreement and remind everyone they promised to “love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

Invite God along! Our schedules might take a vacation, but our faith travels with us! Consider planning a special family devotion to share on your trip. Listen to an audio devotion in the car or share Bible stories around the evening campfire. Invite the kids to come up with some creative ways to learn more about God on your family vacation. You might be surprised at what they come up with! Also check out our Faithgirlz devotionals for some helpful ideas.

Most importantly, no matter where you go or what you do, start your vacation with prayer. It’s the best way to call peace upon your family!

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16:3)