You've been planning your vacation for three months, but on the day you're supposed to leave, no one seems to be ready to go. Your kids are screaming about the long drive, your spouse has you worried about the hotel, and on top of it all, you aren't even sure that the place you picked will be have enough activities to keep everybody occupied. 

We've all been there. We've all seen even the most well-made vacation plans go to hell in the hands of an unresponsive, unhappy family. And yet, that struggle doesn't have to exist. On the contrary, by following the five tips below, you can make sure your vacation is the happy memory you always wanted it to be, a period full of relaxation and rejuvenation you'll really be able to cherish.

5. Prep for Travel Time 

Unless you're going to the worst place on the planet, chances are that the most unpleasant part of your vacation is going to be the travel. However, rather than ignoring potential pitfalls and blithely hoping that everything will go smoothly, have something planned for the trip that everyone can enjoy. A fun movie on a portable DVD player can do the trick, as can an audio-book that everyone's interested in. Just make sure that you don't count on playing car-games for your entire cross-country road-trip. Even if you think it's fun, chances are, by the tenth or eleventh run-through, everyone else will be sick of the vacation before it's started.

4. Schedule Downtime

Even on trips of epic proportion, there comes a time when everyone needs to just sit down, take a break, and crack open a book. Sure, there may be tons of different things to do in Rome, and you may have only seen half of the paintings in that museum, but if everybody doesn't have at least a little break, someone's going to blow a gasket. Making sure everyone has time to decompress is critical to ensuring a happy family and happy memories.

3. Maintain Separate Space

Not everyone can afford a separate room for the kids, but even if everybody's piling into the same queen-bed, make sure everyone has at least some space they can call their own.  After all, while you may not think forcing your kids to spend all their time together is a big deal, to them, it could be just the thing to ruin the trip. But by making sure everyone has their own space, everything will go a lot smoother, and, ultimately, make you a lot happier.

2. Share the Itinerary

Even if you're planning and paying for everything, this trip can't just be about you. The point of any family vacation is for everyone to have a good time, which means allowing the rest of the family to have some input. So, who cares if you don't particularly like fishing? If your son wants to go out on the river for a couple hours, going out with him might just keep him quiet for the rest of the trip, as well as create some unanticipated bonding moments you never would have gotten otherwise.

1. Keep It Short!!!

Even if you have a week of vacation time coming up, that doesn't mean that you have to spend a week away from the house. Although the temptation for an extensive excursion may be great, ultimately keeping your vacation short and sweet will be better for everyone. Not only will your kids and significant other thank you for the extra time to decompress at home, your pocket-book will be glad that your two-week hiking trip in the Andes was downsized to a long-weekend at the local camping-ground. Which is why, the win-win of abbreviated travel is the best way to ensure familial bliss and make your upcoming family vacation the best you've ever had.