Family vacations are often some of the fondest travel memories you can make – but that doesn’t mean hitting the road with your kids, parents or siblings is always easy. Personalities clash, all-too-familiar conflicts rear their heads and before you know it, your family vacation can hit a sour note. Fortunately, it’s possible to minimize conflict – and create those special family vacation memories you’ll cherish for years to come. Here are a few tips to help you keep the peace while traveling with your family.
Set rules, responsibilities and expectations before you leave
Whether you’re traveling with your children, your parents, your adult siblings or the in-laws, it’s important to clearly set rules, responsibilities and expectations before you head out on vacation. Are your teenagers going to be expected to help take care of their younger siblings? Will two sets of grandparents need to share time with the grandkids? Do you expect a certain amount of flexibility or firmness when it comes to sticking to the itinerary? Discussing the answers to questions like these ahead of time will help set the stage for a smoother family vacation.
Communicate while you’re on the road
If you want to mitigate spats while you’re on the road, you’re going to need to keep the lines of communication open – especially while you’re on vacation. While you can’t be responsible for other family members’ actions, you can be responsible for your own: Learn to listen to your relatives when they express their feelings, and also be sure to communicate your own feelings when you need to be heard.
Pack plenty of things to do
While this sounds like advice that applies only to families traveling with young children, it applies to everything from sibling travel to multi-generational travel, too. Pack plenty of things to do while on the road, like books, tablets, magazines or gadgets. Instead of getting hung up on a sibling’s annoying habit, you’ll spend more time being pleasantly distracted with the latest Stephen King novel or Angry Bird app.
Keep things balanced
Balance family activities with plenty of opportunities for alone time, which older teens and adults may find a necessity for surviving a family vacation. When it comes time to plan out a few family activities, keep in mind that fun activities make it harder for people to quarrel. And if you need to break away from previously planned excursions to keep the family happy, don’t be afraid to change the itinerary – it may be worthwhile to skip out on an activity or two rather than trying to stick to a schedule that ends up raising tensions.
Let it go
Quarrels, fights and disagreements are an undeniable fact of life when it comes to family, and going on vacation doesn’t mean you get to completely escape these negative experiences. The key is to accept them as they arise, work through the issues with your family members, and then be willing to leave them in the past. No holding grudges while on vacation – it doesn’t serve you or your family. While you’re certainly allowed to feel annoyed or angry at times, do your best to let it go so you can continue to enjoy your family vacation.
(Main image: calebdzahnd)