Family Vacation Survival Rules

With Summer upon us you’re looking forward to getting away for a family vacation. Everyone is hot and cranky. Your children have changed their mantra from “we don’t want to go to school” to “we’re bored.” As parents, we look forward to summer vacation as the time for our family to enjoy each other’s company, but it doesn’t always seem to work out that way.

Advance planning can help you to stress-proof your family travels so that you can have the most fun and relaxing experience possible.

  • Accept others’ wishes and be prepared to compromise. Everyone should have some opportunity to do things as he/she wants. In most families, this means compromises on everyone’s part. Recognize that you may have to take part in some activities that wouldn’t be your first choices, for the sake of group harmony
  • Give yourself plenty of time for the trip. Rushing to catch a plane or train only increases everyone’s stress level and leads to conflicts. This is especially true when traveling with very young children who are likely to require more breaks and cause unpredictable interruptions.
  • Don’t overextend your schedule. Very few people can do a “whirlwind tour” of five cities in seven days and remain relaxed, and trying to do so would be unthinkable for a family with young children. Likewise, don’t try to fill your days with too many commitments and activities. Leave time to see where your whims and moods take you.
  • Communicate without being confrontational with other family members. Don’t sulk and act resentful if it seems that nothing is “going your way.” Kindly mention to the others that you’re feeling disappointed that you haven’t been able to see or do whatever it is you feel is important to you. Suppressed anger and resentment can easily ruin your dream vacation.
  • Be sure to bring activities for yourself as well as the kids during long waits or car rides.  Be realistic about your expectations. If your children misbehave at home, they’re not going to behave perfectly just because you’re on vacation. Interpersonal differences and conflicts won’t magically disappear.
  • Relax and have fun without expecting the very state of being on vacation to “cure” any difficulties or problems you may be facing back home.
  • Reenter the real world gradually. Instead of returning late the night before going back to work, arrive home a day or two earlier. Give yourself time to adjust and catch up with unpacking, mail, and shopping before resuming work. You will do a better job if you return refreshed.

Every family at some point may need assistance when they are not able to cope with the stress and challenges facing family members.

The Ben Gordon Center is a skilled provider in marital and family counseling.