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After traveling with my spouse, children, parents and even extended family on several occasions I will admit that while we have tons of fun, it’s not always perfect.
Like any normal family, we get on each other’s nerves and sometimes don’t want to be around one another. So how do we travel without driving each other crazy? Well, my husband and I drink a bottle of wine before every flight, let the flight attendants take care of our kids, and keep them quiet with giant lollipops. We wear headphones to drown each other out, “accidentally” give our in-laws the wrong hotel information and have started exclusively booking solo trips.
Just kidding! But we do have real strategies in place to keep the vacations fun while maintaining our sanity and still mostly liking each other at the end of every trip.
Divide the Work
Sometimes, the foundation for annoyances when traveling is laid long before you set off to your destination. When planning a family trip, divide the work equally (or as evenly as possible) among all family members. The worst thing you can do is complain about something on a trip when you did nothing to help plan it. Dividing the work shares this responsibility and limits resentment amongst the group if a family member is unappreciative or dissatisfied.
Compromise When Picking Activities
Many family arguments on vacation come from butting heads about what to do. Make sure during the planning process you take into consideration each person’s preferences on the activities they like. My family always talks about each of our must do’s, and we incorporate those into our itinerary. For instance, my husband loves adventure sports but isn’t a skier, so on our recent ski trip I booked him a snowmobile excursion that was the highlight of the trip for him. Then the rest of the activities can be a majority win situation. This will ensure everyone has a great time and feels satisfied when returning home.
Choose Your Transportation Wisely
Don’t ruin your vacation before it starts! With so many modes of transportation it’s important to know what works best for your family. While you may like to drive, taking a 16-hour road trip may not be everyone’s ideal mode of transportation. If anyone in your family hates sitting in cars for such a long time, chances are they will complain the entire time and that will probably annoy you.
Get Enough Sleep
Whether you plan to have a quiet rest day or simply avoid going full-throttle 24/7, staying well-rested is crucial. Don’t skip too many naps (that goes for kids and grown-ups) and don’t knock getting to bed early. Countless family meltdowns on vacation occur because some — or all — family members are just exhausted.
Book Accommodations With Extra Space
Being cramped in a tiny room for an extended period of time is a sure way for family members to get on each other’s nerves. There’s also nothing worse than getting into an argument with a family member or being annoyed by them, and then having to come back to a tiny hotel room, where you have to share the same (extremely limited) space. When booking accommodations for your family vacation, consider a vacation home that gives you all more space to spread out. This will give you the time you need to cool down or get some much-needed personal space.
Set Aside Alone Time
Just because you’re traveling with your family doesn’t mean you have to be joined at the hip 24/7. Set aside some alone time to unwind and enjoy yourself doing what you love to do. Cruising as a family makes this option so easy! You can drop the kids off at the kids club and get alone time with your spouse, or you can both enjoy your kid-free time separately. Your kids will also get to play with other people their age who may share more similar interests. Hotels sometimes have kids clubs as well, and sometimes they are even free to visit during your stay!
Prepare for Everyone’s Preferences
As a family, you know your travel companions intimately, so act accordingly. When traveling with my 3-year-old daughter, for example, I know she’s kind of lazy at times and hates to walk long distances but also doesn’t like strollers. Instead of getting frustrated with her repeatedly asking to be picked up, I always travel with my carrier. That way, I don’t look crazy arguing with a little kid. So, remember you actually know each other and are well-equipped to prepare for things that might make you upset.
Capture Your Happy Moments
It’s probably impossible to travel with anyone without getting annoyed at least once. However, when looking back on your vacation, the happy times will almost certainly overshadow the one time your child or significant other got on your nerves. So when you’re feeling peeved on your trip, take a minute to look through photos and videos you’ve documented of the great time you’ve been having already and focus on that.
Monet Hambrick is the mom and writer behind The Traveling Child blog where she shares tips on traveling with kids and how to afford travel as a family. Her motto is, “If kids live, there kids can visit.” Follow along with her family adventures on Instagram and Facebook.
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