For some families, summer vacation means adventure – an opportunity to water ski on a mountain lake, hike and camp in a national park or swim and kayak along the coastline. For others, a getaway is just that – a chance to relax poolside or nap with feet in the sand. Regardless of your family's vacation vibe, it's a good idea to work some physical activity into your travel plans. Start with these six tips:

1. Plan ahead.
No matter how long you could go on chilling in the sun with the latest best-seller, your kids probably won't feel the same way about doing a single activity – or none at all – day after day. That's why it's important to plan ahead. Bring gear for games like beach volleyball, Frisbee or badminton. Be sure to do your research ahead of time to find out if your destination offers activities like guided bike tours or tennis lessons. If it does, sit down with your kids to discuss their options and sign up for their picks before you depart. When your child's heart is set on something, there's nothing more disappointing than finding out it's booked up because you failed to plan ahead.

And parents: Don't forget to take advantage of the adult time you'll gain when your kids are participating in planned activities. Take a yoga class, go for a long walk with your spouse or sign up for some golf lessons of your own.

2. Make a nutrition strategy.
Eating healthy on vacation takes some forethought as well, especially if a long drive is involved. Sure, it's easy to just pull off the highway and grab a quick bite at a fast-food restaurant, but your family's health may take a hit after doing that a few days in a row. Instead, pack healthy snacks and meals that your kids enjoy. Sandwiches, fruits, nuts, low-sugar cereals, carrot sticks and beef jerky are good car-friendly options that can help you avoid the convenience stores and fast-food restaurants that lurk alongside our nation's highways. And, don't forget to pack a small cooler with water bottles and other healthy drinks.

It's also a good idea to research restaurants ahead of time, including both those along your driving route and at your destination. It's much easier to stick to your typical eating pattern if you have a plan ahead of time. If you do indulge, be sure to make a healthier choice at your next meal.

3. Be flexible.
You don't want to turn car rides, restaurant visits and days at the pool into family fights, so be flexible and allow your kids to have some say in where and what they eat and what physical activities they take part in. Remember: It's their vacation too!

Still, it's possible to be too flexible. Many families, for example, tend to go overboard, saying, "Why not? We're on vacation!" to every food request. It's better to practice moderation and focus on portion sizes. That way, if you and your family decide to splurge on foods you might not ordinarily eat, you don't overeat as well. In addition, it's a good idea to balance any extra calories with some additional physical activity. Did you start your day with a big pancake breakfast? Then plan a long walk along the beach for the whole family. Collect shells, splash at the water's edge and have fun. The kids won't even know you're trying to balance their caloric intake and output.

4. Live like a local.
If you're on vacation in a culture unlike your own, take the opportunity to learn about local customs and cuisines. Spend an afternoon exploring a local farmers market and trying new foods. Getting to know your new environment can be a fun way to eat healthy and spend the day on your feet.

5. Bring friends.
While family bonding time is an essential element of any family vacation, consider allowing each of your kids to bring a friend along or, better yet, vacation with another family that has children around the same age. Most kids tend to be more active when their friends are around, since they may otherwise be tempted by the TV or an iPad when they get bored of hanging out with their parents. When it comes to playing tag on the beach, swimming in the lake or hiking a mountain trail, the more the merrier. And, be sure to get involved and get the other parents involved as well.

6. Embrace the unexpected.
Would your kids be shocked to see you on the dance floor? Then take some dance lessons while at a resort. Are you typically pretty risk-averse? Surprise your kids by setting a gung-ho example on a whitewater rafting trip or taking the lead on a zip-lining tour. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone – trying new, surprising activities sets a great example for your kids.

A fun, action-packed vacation that balances physical activity with relaxation, and indulgent eating with healthy eating, requires a bit of forethought and some preparation, but the rewards are worth it. The next time you're planning a vacation, whether it's a week-long road trip or a quick weekend getaway, think about how you can maintain your healthy lifestyle while still giving yourself a much-needed break.


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