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7 Family Vacation Lessons We Learned From the Griswolds

It was 1983 when the Griswolds first piled into a station wagon and headed for WallyWorld in that epic family road-trip movie, National Lampoon’s Vacation. It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you’ve seen that movie, you can relate: the awkward sing-alongs, the long drive that never seemed to end, the family Q.T. that we dreaded at the time, but retrospectively adored.

Now, 32 years later, Vacation is making a comeback. Leslie Mann is slated to play adult Audrey, daughter of Clark Griswold, opposite Ed Helms, who’ll play Rusty, in a follow-up to the original films. Christina Applegate has been cast to play Rusty’s wife, and Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo are expected to make appearances in the reboot. This time around, the story will focus on a new generation of Griswolds taking a vacation just like the one they took as kids. Seriously, guys, are we there yet?

In honor of this upcoming (I’m calling it now—fantastic) sequel, let’s take a road trip down memory lane. Crank up Lindsay Buckingham’s “Holiday Road” and let’s reminisce about some of the lessons we learned from the original Griswold family trip.

1. It’s never a vacation; it’s a quest for fun


If we learned anything from Clark Griswold, it’s this: vacations aren’t meant to be relaxing. No, vacations are meant as literal quests for FUN. Clark’s idea of a vacation doesn’t really sound like going to the beach for a few days, but rather trekking through Mordor to destroy the One Ring–that kind of quest. Will there be tears? Yes. Could it get ugly? Possibly. Will everyone have fun whether they like it or not? Of course.

2. Always double-check your travel plans


If you’re about to embark on a cross-country road trip with the family in tow, please make sure that your destination far away is in operation. There’s nothing like the moose out front telling you that the park is closed.

3. Prepare for other family members


Sure, the station wagon might only fit five comfortably, but that doesn’t mean other family members won’t try to tag along, too. Prepare for unexpected guests, and always make room in the car—or on top of it—for family. Poor Aunt Edna.

4. Keep your eyes on the road


Clark Griswold was a very good driver, unless he got distracted. Sometimes he just got sleepy, other times he was having a Christy Brinkley moment. It happens. (No, it doesn’t.) Just stay focused and look straight ahead. Ignore that ’80s model in a little red Corvette, please.

5. Sightseeing is overrated

If you’ve seen one giant rock formation, you’ve seen them all. Isn’t that right, kids? Back in the car.

6. Don’t try too hard to be the hero


Even if your vacation has gone south (not the direction) very quickly, don’t worry about it. You’re together as a family, and that’s what matters. There’s no need to kidnap a security guard and force him to turn on the rides for you. I promise everything will work out for the best.

7. Bring your headphones


It can get noisy in the car. You’ll probably want to tune it out, eventually. Sorry, Clark.

(Images via here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here)

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