Consider inviting friends to enjoy a vacation with you! Many years ago my wife & I were in a Bible Study with several other young adults, all newly married. We became especially good friends with two other couples -- before any of us started having children. And then the children gradually started showing up, basically 3 at a time (one from each family).
We've shared several vacations together now. Just us six adults. And 15 children. The 21 Marleedinks.
Do friends on vacation for a week or more sometimes get sideways with each other? Sure. But repentance, forgiveness, and love is the very language of true friendship -- even friendship with God himself. It's worth every moment, even the moments when someone gets grumpy for a few minutes.
We do our best (interpretation: my wife is very wise) to make vacations very affordable. By the time we get back, I don't want to see another peanut butter & jelly sandwich for a month. But still, there is a cost, and that cost is going to be more than what can be pulled out of a regular monthly budget. We discipline ourselves to set aside a certain amount every month for 24 months. "Epic" vacations don't take place every year; they only happen once every 2 years.
And in those 2 years, there are many months where we think we really need to borrow against the vacation fund. But do all that you can reasonably do to resist. You're investing in family memories.
One of the lamest things I see Christians doing is taking a "vacation" from worshiping God. How ridiculous. On the Lord's Day the Risen King is summoning his children to assemble in worship all over the world... except for the ones on vacation?
Rather, this is a wonderful opportunity to expose yourself and your children to another part of Christ's kingdom! During vacation weeks I've taken my family to a small country church of 20something worshippers... to a large African American church of 2,000 worshippers... to a "hip" inner-city church with a thousand young adults, no children in sight... to an exclusive-psalmody-no-music church... etc. Broaden your experience with & understanding of God's family. It'll do you good.
Also, consider short daily devotions throughout the vacation. On this last vacation all 21 of us made a week-long study of Revelation 1-3, mostly in 3-minute devotions, in the middle of the day, while surrounded by majestic mountains.
Stretch yourself & your kids. Do something out of the ordinary. Climb a mountain, walk up a mountainous sand dune, go white-water rafting, go kayaking, hike "up" the middle of a mountain stream for a couple of miles, take an old-fashioned train ride.
Have them do something they've never done before, and perhaps didn't think they could.
5. NO ELECTRONICS
Take a fast from all rectangles... phones, computers, ipod, ipad, etc. The world will still be pretty much the same when you get back. (But maybe you will have changed?)
Instead, use your downtime to play some basketball, some ultimate frisbee, have some wrestling matches, look at maps, read a book to some kids. They don't even have to be your kids. Any kids will do.
The dad should start the week off with something fun & out-of-the-ordinary, because this is vacation week & the rules have all changed. Set the tone by doing something unexpected. Bring your wife home her favorite pretzel order from Mellow Mushroom... bring home a donut dinner plate for the kids... or maybe shave your head... whatever strikes your fancy.