Vacations are times to kick back and relax, but getaways can also be a source of friction among families, friends or couples, as back-seat driving or paying restaurant bills cause tempers to fray. Here are a few tips from Sonia Prades, a psychologist specializing in family relationships, on how to ensure a stress-free summer break.

Opt for old friends

It's better to know each other well to avoid any unpleasant surprises, particularly if you're traveling with children. By definition, living with others exacerbates differences and encourages comparisons. Sonia Prades' advice is to accept that rules, such as bedtime and sleeping rituals, are different from one family to another. In terms of each couple, this type of vacation is only advisable when the relationship is in reasonably good shape, so that outbursts can be avoided.

Respect privacy

Waking up with a sleepy head, breakfast in your pajamas, sauntering around the pool in your swimsuit ... the concept of privacy changes when you're with a group on vacation. "It's important to make sure there are enough rooms to respect everyone's private time and avoid embarrassment," notes Prades.

Return to your childhood

Having fun is the golden rule for a successful vacation with friends. "Being in a group has a regressive effect. Shared vacations are an opportunity to let your hair down and play. Parents can temporarily abandon their educational role and return to childhood," explains Sonia Prades. When the children are around, "responsibility can be handed over to the other adults." Each of the adults can take their turn in this way, thus avoiding annoyance and frustration.

Let followers and leaders express their personalities

Everyone should find their natural place in the group to feel comfortable. A leader will remain a leader. They should be allowed to make suggestions, for example, and to lead the group, without being allowed to take over completely. Others are more naturally "followers" who can be responsible for other tasks and take other initiatives. "You shouldn't hesitate to split the group to make everyone happy," advises Sonia Prades.

Split the bills as fairly as possible

Talking about money before you leave can prevent a whole lot of problems. "The best solution is to work out a fair split of major expenditure such as accommodation, transport and food." Once you arrive, a joint fund could be set up for shopping and drinks that everyone contributes to equally. Anything else is down to your own budget.