Traveling with her family is something Rebecca has been doing since she was a child. But it’s been a lot harder to handle as a 26-year-old adult.
“My father invited me to join him, my mom and my little brother on a road trip to Florida last year. I figured a scenic, all expense paid vacation? Why not,” thought the Seattle native. That is until she got in the car.
“Dad's idea of vacationing included driving straight from the Midwest to the beachy sunshine state while avoiding unnecessary expenses, limited bathroom breaks and fast food restaurants,” she says. They stayed in crappy hotels they found along the way.
“I kept telling him I could get a three-star hotel at a discount on my iPhone, but his only goal was to ‘get there fast and cheap.’ It was stressful and I felt like a fugitive, confined and without potty breaks,” she laughs.
Miriam, 42, from Boston, loves taking her family on trips, but her husband Rob always wants to make it an adventure his children won’t forget, even when they beg him not to.
“He wanted to take our son and teenage daughter camping, which they both protested. My daughter spent the night complaining about bugs, and my son couldn’t understand why are campfire wasn’t as big as the one he had found on YouTube,” Miriam recalls with a chuckle. “Then a bear got into our campground and turned over our food containers because my husband forgot to tie it up.”
So what to do when you love your family, but are stuck in close quarters with them for a week or longer?
“Being ‘stuck’ together for a long car ride or in close quarters at a vacation destination can push emotional buttons,” says Josselyne Herman Saccio, travel expert and LandmarkWorldwide seminar leader. “The key for sane travel is finding inventive ways to keep tension and squabbles at bay and have the next vacation together be the best one yet.”
One of the best tips for traveling with family is “to have a family meeting about how to incorporate some special interests of each family member,” advises Josselyne, who has planned a trip to a Farmer’s Market, meetings with working artists and the search for the best crème brulee in Europe, on her upcoming trip to Paris with her three kids.
“The experience of planning to explore personal passions helps each family member experience a vacation that is fun and more importantly, personally meaningful.”
Upgrading your expectations can also keep family members happy. While it may cost a little more to get your own space on a family vacation, it’s the best way to insure some private time for yourself while traveling with your clan. If you can’t swing a hotel bill, treat mom and dad to a romantic dinner for two and pick up the tab. While they’re out appreciating your generosity, enjoy your hotel room downtime sans parents. Smart.
If you have kids, listen to their concerns... and suggestions.
“Practice avoiding a knee-jerk reaction when your kids are asking for something,” Josselyne explains. “Listen actively to your kids and hear what they are saying.”
Their thoughts and suggestions could mean the difference between a car full of complaining to the best trip ever.
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