With summer right here in all its shining glory, you may well find yourself on a family trip (after several rounds of discussion) to somewhere great. However, you might have vivid memories of disastrous family vacations, where everyone had a fight, ran off in different directions or projectile vomited in the car, which might be holding you back. The dynamic of you as a kid travelling with family changes drastically when you turn into an adult and plod along with family on a trip for fun.
You’ve reached a point in life where you’re living away from family and come home occasionally to VIP treatment and huge servings of your favourite food. You’re used to living in peace and don’t like long-winded arguments that lead you nowhere. You have evolved into a person with their own sets of likes and dislikes, you have a job, pay taxes and you can’t put up with the 68th game of Chinese checkers your family keeps coaxing you to play.
As loving and adorable as families might be, they are in equal parts annoying. Your gleeful brother who knows just what will get to you, relatives who will insist you need to get married stat and your parents who will have an opinion on everything from your clothes to the way you open a jar.
Families are a whole lot of drama – everyone has a say in everything, with accompanying quirks that can drive you up the wall. You need to keep in mind that you’ll be sandwiched in a car for hours with them. The whole point of taking a trip with your family is to create beautiful memories with them. Here’s how to go through a family vacation without tearing out your hair and live to tell the tale.
1. Book accommodation keeping space in mind
One of the perks of being an adult is that you no longer need to share a hotel room with your parents. If you’re travelling with relatives as well, it’s inevitable that it will get crowded. If you don’t want to end up sleeping on an extra cot in your aunt’s room, make sure you pick up the baton for booking a place to stay at.
You can opt for a villa or an Airbnb depending on the headcount and make sure you have enough rooms to avoid sharing. An Airbnb would be ideal as its homely feel will put everyone at ease and the drawing room would be a great place for people to convene at and spend some family time together.
2. Add 20 minutes more to any departure time
Families are never ready at the pre-decided time. There will be people who won’t get out of bed voluntarily, bathroom fights, the kids can’t find their socks, several people are hunting for grandma’s elusive spectacles, somebody’s lacing up their shoelaces with a YouTube tutorial running… you get the picture. It’s better to give everybody a time at least twenty minutes earlier so you have enough time to put up with everybody’s shenanigans and you won’t have to be part of fights about who got everybody else late.
3. Don’t forget that you’re an adult now
Parents will always treat you like you’re 8 and it’s easy to slide back into the parent-kid dynamic but that would be the worst thing for you to do. Assert your adulthood early on by taking on more responsibilities and getting stuff done. Once you start showing them how dependable you are, it will help them kick back and relax.
It seems unlikely but parents were young too! Help them find their carefree, happy place so that the parent garb slips off and you can have real conversations with each other like peers to understand who they are. Share a bottle of wine and they might just spill some beans about their colourful anecdotes. Lend a hand during sticky spots and chip in to cover some of the expenses; you’re making money now.
4. Plan ahead to avoid confusion and scream-fighting
Now this one is important. Make sure you play an active role in the planning process otherwise you’ll be handed an itinerary which you don’t want to follow, for a place you don’t want to go to. Figure out the how-when-where to create a detailed itinerary and hand it in with a smile.
Make sure you include activities keeping in mind the age bracket your group falls into. If there are kids as well as 80-year-olds, a trek would probably be a bad idea. Talk to the members of your travelling group to figure out what they’d like to do and settle for middle ground. You can even create a few smaller groups for people who want to relax in the spa and another for those who want to go rock climbing.
5. Talk money before the trip
It’s better to straighten out the financial deets before the trip so everyone involved can stop worrying about who’s paying for what and just have fun. If someone is paying a hefty amount for the Airbnb then let someone else be in charge of paying for the rental SUV. Somebody might end up spending more on food than they had anticipated and this can lead to a sour mood.
Chalk everything out in writing and share the sheet so that everyone is in agreement on who’s paying for what and nobody ends up feeling too overburdened. Download the Splitwise app so you can keep a track on the budget and sort out other miscellaneous expenses. You could also chip in; after all part of being an adult is shelling out money.
6. Add the word ‘yes’ in your dictionary
Now we all know that we were annoying little brats when we were kids and our parents still didn’t abandon us. What with hanging on to their pants and screaming for candy; looking back, it’s a whole lot of sacrifice. No adult loves going to a park while you swing on jungle gym bars for hours at a time but hey, they still did it.
You might usually say no to a lot of things in everyday life but travelling with company means being open to a lot of things you normally might not be open to. Get out of your comfort zone and say yes to things that other people might propose. You never know, you might just end up enjoying it. Yay to the 3-hour meditation camp!
7. Be prepared for all eventualities
Travelling with family means kids who might take a tumble and get scrapes, bruises or an occasional tummy upset so pack a first-aid kit with plenty of band-aids, bandages and some basic medicines. If you have elderly people in the group with medical conditions, then bring along enough of their medicines (those pesky little pills drop and roll into dark corners) and medical prescriptions. Take note of hospitals nearby in the event of an emergency.
Pack enough snacks and drinks for a family to idly munch on. Hungry stomachs make people cranky and start petty fights. If dark clouds are likely to appear on the horizon, quickly open a pack of Cheetos to appease them.
Fun board games, a frisbee or badminton racquets will keep everyone amused and give everyone a chance to spend some family time with good-natured ribbing. You know what they say - a family which plays together, stays together.
8. Take some time off to look around sans family
There might be a lot of things that you may have visualised doing without your family in the picture. It could be having a quiet drink at an obscure bar or simply visiting that museum you’ve had your eye on. It’s okay to take off on your own occasionally, to have some alone time to observe things the way you do, take pictures or simply stare at things.
Pack mentality can be strong in some families and they may insist that you stick with them. Wait till most succumb to their early bedtime and then hit the streets to do some of your own exploring. It does good to get away from the family dynamic for a bit.
Most importantly be present for all of the fun instead of getting your thumbs stuck to your phone. Instagram stories aren’t half as important as living them for real. Make sure to take pictures you can laugh over later.