Vacations are meant to be relaxing, but they can transform even the friendliest extended families from this:
… into this:
But there is hope! Look, I love my family and my in-laws. They are awesome. The best! I have no complaints whatsoever. But when you throw a bunch of people together and put them in a car or on a plane, they CHANGE. It’s happened to me. Travel-me is like a werewolf. My full moon is a seat-selection-screw-up, or when my kids WON’T SIT DOWN OH MY GOD JUST SIT IT’S FOR SAFETY.
Travel can be stressful. It can make your temper short – even with the people you love the most. How can you cope with keeping your cool while traveling with family?
How to travel with your Extended Family without turning into a raving maniac
1) Agree ahead of time that you don’t all have to do everything.
Talk this one out, folks. Make sure everyone knows that none of the vacation outings are compulsory. Hate shopping? Skip it. Can’t stand fancy restaurants? Don’t go! It’s okay!
I love my husband, but I’d rather have him stay at the hotel than come along on an outing and act grumpy the whole time (NOT that this has EVER HAPPENED, I am NOT pointing fingers, I LOVE YOU HONEY).
Your family is traveling as a group, but that doesn’t mean you all have to go EVERYWHERE together. Which bring me to my next point…
2) Stay in separate places.
For instance, if your extended family is in a hotel room in downtown Toronto, you should aim for a room in Vancouver. HA HA, KIDDING.
It isn’t always possible to get multiple hotel rooms (budgets, yo). But when you are with people other than your immediate family for a long period of time, you will all need a break eventually. Other people will want a break from your kids who can’t stop moving, you will want a break from those who can’t seem to get going.
Separate rooms can save everyone’s sanity. They give you a retreat when you are feeling tired or antisocial. They give you a private place to vent if you are feeling frustrated. If you can swing it within your budget, separate rooms are worthwhile.
3) Schedule “alone time” for your immediate family.
Make sure your immediate family gets at least one full day to spend together, alone. Even when you’re having a ball with all of your relatives, it’s nice to really focus on your kids for a day.
Related: This is a prime opportunity to score some alone time as a couple, as well. When travelling with family, try to rope someone into babysitting for a couple of hours so that you and your partner can go out for a meal! OR you could stay IN. WINK WINK.
4) Despite all this, you still might lose it.
When traveling with a large number of people (family or not) and staying in close quarters, fights are almost inevitable. Take time to cool down and try to focus on the good stuff: you’re not at work! You are with people who you love when you are not a travel-werewolf!
After you’ve cooled down, apologize. If that doesn’t fly, move on and try to have fun anyhow.
Remember in Teen Wolf when Michael J. Fox is trying not to wolf out, and he’s thinking VERY HAPPY CALM thoughts? Channel Michael J. Fox.
Traveling can be stressful. Planning an outing or meal with a million people is hard. You can’t please everyone. But also, you are on vacation. There is probably some lovely scenery nearby. And the people you are with are probably lovely as well when it’s not a full moon. Every family has its quirks – embrace them, take loads of photos, and avoid full moons.