Perhaps the best thing to do to avoid a summer vacation nightmare is to watch the movie "National Lampoon's Vacation" and do the exact opposite. In fact, many of the following tips were inspired by that hilarious movie.

Anyone who's ever been on a family vacation can relate to the Griswold's "Quest For Fun!" as the father, Clark, sarcastically puts it when he's reached the proverbial last straw.

Fortunately, in this case, life is not a movie.

Take the following tips as suggestions, not necessarily answers, because every family is different, and each person within that family is different. Vacations can be a time to embrace your family's idiosyncrasies. You're probably going to be spending a lot of time in cramped quarters like a car, airplane or hotel room. The more you roll with the punches, the less you'll get hit.

Family at the beach, sunset

No. 5: Find something for everyone

One of the best descriptions of the word "mature" is the ability to delay gratification.

Compromise is the name of the game here. Find something for everyone in your family or group that plays to their individual interests and favorite activities. You can't please all of the people all of the time is a good cliché to keep in mind.

If you're the one in your traveling party who always does the planning, facilitating and organizing, make sure you get input from each person going on the trip or, if they're the type of person who's as hard to get a hold of as a doughnut in the break room, you should still make the effort.

Leave email and voicemail messages, so that when you're on the trip and he or she comes to you to complain -- and you know they will -- you can point to the electronic footsteps you left as evidence of your efforts.

Beach chairs, umbrella, vacation, ocean

No. 4: Try not to do too much

Most of us "Johnny Lunchboxes" and "Sally Punchclocks" don't get a lot of time off for our vacations.

We have to make some tough logistical decisions about our holiday based on money, time away from work, transportation, lodging, food, etc.

Because of this, it's tempting to try to see and do everything there is to see and do because you only have a small amount of time, and God only knows when you'll be able to take another vacation.

Relax. It's summertime. You don't have to set your alarm clock if you don't want to; you don't have to cook and clean; you don't have to do anything, really. Vacation time is your time. Do what you love. If you're one of those people who just has to schedule everything, schedule in some down time.

Airport, delayed flight, travel, jet

No. 3: Don't let problems get you down

How many times have you heard the phrase, "Getting there is half the fun"?

If you've never heard this phrase, chances are excellent that you've heard one similar like, "Why spend all that money to fly first class when coach gets there at the same time for a lot less money?" Or, "Man! When we look back on this, we are going to laugh so hard!"

These are some of the phrases we all use to try and make ourselves feel better about our unfortunate lot in life.

It pays to remind yourself that you're on vacation while you're on vacation. Vacations are never perfect. There will be problems. Don't drive yourself nuts trying to have the first ever perfect vacation. At least you're not at work, right?

Missed train, train station

No. 2: Be flexible

Try not to schedule everything. Dealing with uncertainty is difficult for some people, and that's cool. No problemo. Go ahead and schedule and plan and organize to your heart's content. Agendas and to-do lists are wonderful ways to ensure that you don't miss or forget anything.