Family politics are complicated. Family vacations are even more so.
Like any other trip with a bunch of people, it's about being clear on expectations, but usually kicked up a notch. Otherwise, a family vacation may feel like psychological warfare, but in another city where you guys can't outrun each other! Surviving and thriving on a family vacation is really all about setting standards and boundaries, like a good adult.
So while there's a lot of great tactics for traveling with the fam, the ones to beef up on may actually be the psychological ones.
For the record, it's really not a great idea to go into a family trip feeling lukewarm about the whole entire thing. Either go into it with an upbeat attitude despite the circumstances, or feel wholeheartedly enthusiastic about it.
The bright side? Being an adult and making your own money is great!
Adjust the expectations to zero. 🍰
Because if the baseline is nonexistent, everything else is icing on the cake.
Don’t be afraid to take alone time!
In fact, don’t be afraid to take constant ‘alone’ breaks. It may feel like you’re reenacting a scene from 20 years ago, hiding from a very loud Christmas party (running back to your room) but there is nothing wrong doing what you gotta do.
Maybe, this means for every two or three days of activities with the family, its good to for everyone to go off and do their own thing. Even a proactive suggestion ahead of time may win brownie points across the board.
Saying, "Hey guys, I think I might do x and x," followed by splitting, can hardly be the worst thing that's been said in the world (it can be hard for other people to read your mind!).
Institute a time limit (and stick to it).
Mental separation is a good thing. That’s what the other 355 of the other days are good for, but it’s really the other 10 days when you get to see how well you have mastered that test. It’s a game!
In drastic cases, when there's that one family member where friction is always inevitable, feel free to institute a time limit for the times you’re around that particular person. The key here is actually not telling that person (are you insane?!).
Though the actual time limit really depends on how long it takes for a situation to degrade (its usually quite rapid at that point), it can often be figured out in hourly increments. Use that information to sift and sort out what activities may be perfect for that timeframe, without offending anyone.
For example, it’s often pleasant with my mother until we hit the two-hour mark. And trust us, we tested pushing this limit before we figured out two hours was about perfect.
Accept each other.
In good relationships, everyone accepts everyone. Conflicts often come from differing perspectives, backgrounds and experiences but from good intentions. It may be downright impossible to always understand or be understood, but everyone feels the need to be accepted.
Sometimes, all it is accepting that they just may never accept.
If all else fails, wear matching t-shirts.
Joking, not joking. Family bonding, right?