The paper examines the family vacation phenomenon by comparing parents on vacation (n = 203) with parents during daily life (n = 246) in terms of two psychological constructs: regulatory focus and parenting style. Results revealed that parents in both samples were similar in their ‘regulatory focus of promotion’ (need for challenges) and ‘parenting styles’ (permissive and authoritarian), but parents on vacation scored lower on both need for security (‘regulatory focus of prevention’) and authoritative ‘parenting style’. The findings suggest that parents, especially mothers, view family vacation as an opportunity to relax and release parental control. The findings' theoretical and practical implications are discussed. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.