In about six months the nation will be on wheels again! Yippie! Here are some tips in case you are in the planning stages so it won’t be a family vacation from hell but a happy joyous time to reunite and find common grounds. Right!!! I traveled with my family and my parents in law and Grandma before.
While I love family vacation, I always know, I need to take a deep breath to mentally prepare for things to come.
1. Indecisions can ruin any vacation.
If you travel with a large family make sure you and your family agree on sights you are planning to see, the restaurant you are going to visit and the schedule ahead of time. Nothing makes me antsier then getting there, a lot of stuff to do and see and nobody knows what the plan is. Once the endless discussions start on what to do next and why and why not I am checking out. I can’t stand it. I remember a time traveling in a group and people discussed whether they should go to Starbucks or not. Yikes. I simply just went. By the time I came back there were still discussing. Make a decision together ahead of time and stick with it.
2. Inadequate space has the potential to ruin a vacation.
My sister in law and her husband wanted to see the kids and us for a weekend in Cape Cod. They switched their time share to a location they didn’t know. It turned out as a small hotel room with one bed and not the suite she expected. At night the tiny hotel room floor was covered with our sleeping bags and turned into a giant bed. When we went to the bathroom we stepped on each other. My kids are younger so they wake up early in the morning and my sister in law was pregnant and barely could sleep all night. It was a difficult situation. We managed but I believe it was difficult for her especially and I felt a bit guilty of my kids being loud in the morning and stuff like that. We were discussing of getting a room next door but the prices were too expensive. The hotel room was an awesome nest for a young couple just getting married but not for a family of five and a pregnant lady and her husband. If you switch your timeshare make sure it has the space you need.
3. Inadequate time setting can prevent you from sightseeing.
If I want to leave at nine am to be at ten am somewhere I know that my family needs to be getting up at eight am the latest with having two bathrooms. When you ad Grandma and Mother in Law to the mix you might have to wake up everyone a little earlier. And don’t plan on Grandma or Mom taking as long as you take. Their time to get ready is totally different from yours. My mother in law needs her hair done and her make up. I often just need to slip in a jeans after a shower and done. Grandma is older so she takes naturally longer to get herself ready. You got to ad their time to the time the kids need in the morning in order to determine when to wake everyone up. So ask them how long they would need to get ready in the morning. Then wake your kids up first and let them get ready but make sure you have left the agreed time space for the other family members..
4. Inadequate amount of food for activities can make people grumpy.
I don’t mind skipping breakfast nor do I mind walking around hours not having food. I usually figure there is a picnic stand somewhere and I get food when I or the kids get hungry. My mother in law will however get incredible nervous when she doesn’t eat every two hours. She is high energetic and has a high metabolism. I wish I had her figure. We happen to go on the coldest day of the year to DC a year ago and we hopped on the tour bus quickly and then we walked around the National Mall as long as we could stand it. There was no sight of a picnic/hotdog/cocoa stand whatsoever anywhere for hours. We weren’t aware that they have food places in the Smithsonian or we would have gotten in there. She got really grumpy and the kids got whiney. Grandma happened to pack some raisins and stuff for her Diabetes. She was fine. Always bring a snack for the whole family just in case.
5. Incorrect expectations can ruin your memories
For years we wanted to take the kids to Disney World and when we had the chance we jumped on it. We thought this was going to be the pinnacle of all vacations. My mother in law gave us her timeshare and the hotel was awesome. Well Disney wasn’t all what we thought it was going to be. We were annoyed by the endless lines, the high prices, the constant selling of vendors who target the kids. Every exit of an amusement ride ended up being a gift store. The constant marketing with the mix of the never ending “PLEASE MOM” made us tired and grumpy. My husband couldn’t stand the lines and didn’t think it was necessary to ride every ride. We had a huge argument there and it destroyed parts of the day. However it ended with the nice parade under the stars. All in all the day was good but I still feel sometimes the bitter after taste of a day I prepared and elevated in my minds for many years. Don’t expect the place to make you happy. Expect to create quality family time. As a young couple we also went to the beach with my extended family. I dreamed of walking hand in hand at the beach by moonlight, my husband however thought of catching a shark and brought his fishing pole. Again clear expectations before hand.
6. Overbearing family members can make traveling difficult.
I take fluids when I am thirsty unless it’s coffee. I drink it whether I am thirsty or not. I am quite aware of the fluid intake a women my age should have according to health nuts. I don’t care. I know my mother in law (She is my mom now) wants the best for me but ordering a water in addition to my drink every time when we visited a restaurant was not only really annoying me but was also a waste of resources. Sometimes parents just have to back off their kids whether they are grown children or young toddlers. And sometimes people like me should just know that family want the best for me and not take everything so personal.
7. (Un-?) Cleanliness could cause arguments
People are different. Everyone has certain standards. Things or facilities I consider clean you might consider dirty or messy. This is especially difficult when you share your bathroom with extended family. In order to keep everyone satisfied it would make sense just to clean up after you. I will try to take my own advice by trying to make sure that the toilet paper role is on the appropriate container, my clothes are picked up and the tooth paste is wiped off from the sink. It is also good to keep personal things in a tight container and in the suitcase. Often hotel room bathrooms don’t have enough room to store everyone’s personal items.
8. Unsolicited parenting advise will keep anyone from having a nice vacation.
In my opinions most parents do the best they can do. They know their children, they know their limits and the limits in their children and they know what works and what doesn’t. Throw extended family members in the picture who know best also, it can get really ugly. The general rule is if you aren’t asked to do so, don’t discipline the child for the parent and don’t give advice. If the kids eat too much sugar or are too rowdy for your taste, please know it is also a family vacation for them and the parent may just give in a little too.
9. Family Vacations are not the time to clear differences in Politics and Religion.
Time and Time again I have argued in the car about the President and Christianity trying to convince my mom (Former Mother In law) that I was right and she was wrong only to realize in the end that everyone lost. Stay away from topics you are passionate about. Use your blog to do that and just meet in the middle, agree to disagree or just don’t talk at all. I am sure the President doesn’t appreciate the time you take ruining your family vacation and neither does the pope. Just let it go.
10. “Me” time Is very rarely possible on group vacations.
You share the hotel room, the car, the restaurant, the bathroom and you can’t find time to recharge, read a book, listen to a song or enjoy the beauty around you without someone being there. Sometimes you don’t get to see what you wanted to see because of time restrains. It is ok to split the group up here and there so everyone gets the most of their museum, zoo visits. If you don’t, things can go downhill very quickly. Try to make time for yourself anyway by getting up earlier as the rest of them.
These are our challenges of traveling with family . I am sure you can name many others. In the end I am grateful for having a family who wants to go with me on vacation. My family has grown together over the year sand I love when my in-laws and my grandmother in laws are joining us and beat me in spates. We have learned to give each other some space, overlook some errors or weaknesses and to move on when we encountered difficulties.