Jan 4, 2014

How to Survive A Family Vacation

I LOOOOVE family vacations.


I think family vacations can really bring families together over positive experiences and I've never had a family vacation that I regretted or that didn't make me feel closer to everyone in my family.

That said, especially for multigenerational groups or families who don't spend the bulk of the year together, family vacations can also provide the perfect conditions for the perfect storm - AKA, disaster.

 To save you from wasting your money, time and energy on a trip gone wrong, here are some of my go-to tips for having a successful family vacation.

Don't overplan.

It can be tempting, especially for Type A personalities (I may be guilty of this), to plan every minute of every day.

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But while it can be really tempting to try and fit as much family fun into the vacation as possible, guess what you sound like to everyone else when you're explaining that breakfast starts at 8:05am, then at 8:55am you go snorkeling, then at 11:55 you shower, then 12:30 is sight seeing, etc.?


Don't be that girl. Just because one activity is fun does not mean that one hundred activities is more fun.

Go with the flow.

You do want to have a few activities planned, so that people don't just sit around twiddling their thumbs and wondering when the next instagrammable moment will happen. That said, if someone comes down with strep (that's happened to my big sister on too many trips - the poor girl has no luck) you don't have to still go snorkeling.

Plans are made to be changed, the goal is enjoying yourselves and your time together, not checking things off of a to-do list!

Have something for everyone.

Try to have some activity planned for each person's interest. For example, if you have a real foodie in the bunch, try to plan a cooking class or a food tasting or something. If there's a big shopper, visit a local market. If there's an adventurer, sign up for some exciting adventure activity.

By having something for everyone, everyone feels cared for. An added bonus is that everyone can learn more about each other's favorite pastimes and maybe even discover more common interests!

Don't be afraid to be cliquish. 

Cliques are no good in high school and they still aren't good if you're actively excluding people. Breaking off into smaller groups of two or three can be a very good idea on family vacations, however. Even if it arises that a few people have almost all of the same interests and end up being in the same 'clique' all break, it's still a good idea.

These smaller groups minimize family strife, make sure people get to do what they like, and provide a great safety buddy system. Just make sure you all come together to do something, whether it's a communal breakfast or an end-of-the day get together over dinner (and/or drinks, depending on the ages of the family members) to share what you did that day!

Value space. 

Don't underestimate the value of some space. If you can afford it, try to get two rooms - one for kids and one for adults (if the kids are old enough), even if the hotel would let a group of your size all stay in one room. It allows the adults some quality private time and some quiet. While different age groups can get along smashingly, your middle-aged/elderly parents don't really want to hang out with your young adult/teenage self and siblings for days on end. As much as they drive us crazy, we definitely do the same to them.

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My sisters and I can be pretty rowdy when we're all together and, while we're not over the top, older family members don't want loud music and nonstop giggling at all hours of the day.

Do your own thing.

If separate rooms isn't an option for your group, as it often may not be, taking some time to go down to the beach in smaller groups, or even just sitting alone out on your balcony (if your room has one), can be really helpful. You don't want to get to the point where you're so over saturated with socialization that the sight of another mammal freaks you out.

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Depending on the safety of your own location, sometimes getting a meal alone or doing a little souvenir shopping by yourself can be a great solitary activity.

Move on.

Despite your best planning, it's fairly likely that something will go wrong. Maybe there's a mixup with booking, maybe you don't get the adjoining rooms you asked for, maybe someone gets sick or injured, or maybe there's a spat. Whatever happens, the important thing is to not get hung up on what went wrong, or on an argument that you had, but to remember that you're lucky to all be together and on vacation.

Regardless of who was right, the important thing is to move on and have fun. Angry resentment is a total waste of time, money, and opportunity - opportunity to have more fun!

What are your fondest family vacation memories?

Are you going anywhere with your family this year?

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