Photos courtesy Tiffany Ellis

A travel advisor’s tips for making the most of your family’s summer vacation

Have you ever come home from a vacation, dropped your bags off in a corner of your room, flopped limp-limbed onto the bed, and suddenly felt like you needed…another vacation? According to travel advisor Tiffany Ellis of Tiffany Ellis Travel, you’re not alone. Plenty of us spend so much time trying to pack the most into our trips—whether during the planning process or while checking off itineraries that never seem to please every person on board—that we forget to schedule in the R&R we really needed. One of Ellis’ simple solutions? Balance your off-the-beaten-path activities with recalibrating wind-downs each day.

Tiffany with her husband Daryl in Venice

“I like to begin with a walk,” she says, “just to wander around and get your bearings. It’s tempting to pull out your phone and start filming and photographing right away, but I suggest trying to become a part of everyday life where you are. Sit on a park bench. Have a connection with yourself that says ‘I am here.’”

Some of the most resilient memories, after all, come from mundane enjoyments, and they’ll give you the energy needed to take on the next stage of the vacation. 

“Now you can go to high-energy places and explore some side streets,” says Ellis. “Go off the main drag where you’ll see areas that make up the community, from small bookstores to family artisans. You’re supporting a community, even if only for a short time.” 

Ellis also warns about the pitfall of being “bullied by time,” or feeling pressured to squeeze in multiple big activities per day of a vacation. 

“One thing my husband and I did this past summer during a long stay in Montana was create a ritual in the afternoon,” she says. “If you’re a family with kids, it may be hard in the morning to get everybody together and go do something. But when the afternoon comes, and you’ve done all the things you wanted to do that day, you can create a little pocket of time to enjoy something close to where you are, even if it’s going to eat some ice cream at the same time every day, or to take a walk in your favorite part of a city. Schedule time to just rest—it’ll help show your family that you care about them and their experience.”

Tiffany Ellis in Florence, Italy

That doesn’t mean that you should keep to yourself the whole time. Instead, Ellis recommends talking to your family about the sights and activities you participate in, plus taking special care to be polite in another person’s language if you’re traveling abroad. 

“It’s amazing how, when I was in Italy, just by showing a little effort with basic phrases like ‘Hello,’ ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you,’ I could build a sense of belonging,” she says. “It slows time down. And when you’re slowing time down, you’re becoming more aware.”

This sense of awareness plays into one of Ellis’ key themes when giving advice to her clients: the importance of a trip’s emotional value. 

“Psychologists say that memories formed during childhood are some of the strongest in your life, which is why travel really strengthens bonds with family and builds a better sense of self,” she says. “It allows your kid to see who you are when you’re not running around doing adult things. You’re building sandcastles with them, or you’re contemplating all the people and generations behind the constant upkeep of a 500-year-old cathedral. What that does for a child’s sense of love and security is priceless.”

For more travel tips and destination recommendations, visit or follow her on Facebook and Instagram @tiffanyellistravel. And be sure to follow us @inregister to stay tuned for more family travel content in our upcoming June issue.