My family went on a hiking trip in the North Carolina mountains last month, which was our first family trip since the pandemic started, and we're visiting a not-too-far-away national park next week. Later in the summer, we're spending a few nights at the beach with friends. These are all driving trips. We're not quite ready to fly as a family because my kids haven't been vaccinated.
My tips for a lower-stress, minimal-pain vacation: Stick to your regular routine as much as you can, by which I mean stick to your normal sleep schedule and don't over-indulge in food and/or alcohol. If you don't exercise much at home, then don't try to hike or kayak 10 miles in one day on vacation. Be reasonable. Rent a house, if possible, so you can prepare some of your own meals and so your family has room to spread out. (This is especially important if you have kids and pets traveling with you.) Schedule down time. I like to hike and do other activities in the morning, return to the rental house for an afternoon nap, and then venture back out in the early evening. Don't try to cram too many activities into each day. When driving long distances, schedule lots of breaks. For me, I need a stretch every two hours or so. I also find heated car seats to be helpful. That little bit of heat on my back makes a world of difference. If you know you're going to be in a situation where you can't easily get up and stretch, e.g., a long flight, medicate for that. I don't usually need to supplement my biologic with NSAIDs or painkillers, but I will do it prophylactically if I know I'm going to be trapped for a long time on an airplane or in a chair at a professional conference.
Happy traveling everybody.