Turn Bickering Into Bonding by Following These Expert Tips on Your Next Family Vacation
Spend your next trip relaxing, exploring, and bonding—not quarreling and hassling.
This article orginally appeared on RealSimple.com
Many families are gearing up for their annual summer vacations, whether its jetting overseas or road-tripping to the beach. But family trips don't always play out exactly as envisioned, especially when the whole family is in close quarters—constantly. Sick of saying no to fun family vacations just to avoid the hassle? Read this simple, yet brilliant advice from renowned travel expert Wendy Perrin and award-winning author and playwright David Valdes Greenwood on how to take a family vacation without pain, stress, or complete loss of sanity. Perrin and Greenwood, who speak from personal experience, share their best tips for smooth sailing on your next family trip.
1. Decide on a Mutual Trip Goal
Whether it’s relaxing on the beach, exploring a new destination, or learning a new skill, the purpose of a vacation can take many different forms. Agreeing on a mutual trip goal (for example, “try one new food every day of the trip”) before leaving will ensure everybody’s on the same page.
2. Allow for Everybody's Temperaments
Think beforehand about what it is that throws individuals in your crew off. You know your family, so you know which triggers will inevitably cause crankiness or discomfort. Do what you can to prevent it from the start, as much as possible. For instance, if you're taking a long, grueling flight, don't jump right into an activity—allow for some adjustment time upon arrival. Do your kids get hangry—especially after spending a few hours in a museum? Make sure to pack snacks and plan meals ahead so the group never gets too hungry. Planning the trip with everybody’s dispositions and skill sets in mind can prevent bad behavior and grumpiness from both the kids and adults.
3. Always Carve Out Meaningful Time With Your Spouse
Indulging in one-on-one time with your partner or spouse while away can help the trip feel more therapeutic. Choosing a family-friendly resort or a cruise with a kids club is one way to work in couple’s time, and tiring the kids out during the day can mean alone time—or even a date night—later in the evening. If you’re comfortable leaving the kids on their own in a hotel room, find a night to rent them a movie and order in room service, then sneak out for a bite just the two of you. (It'll feel like a treat for the kids too).
4. Limit Screen Time
Deciding as a family to limit screen time on vacation will ensure everyone is present and engaged during the trip. Adults should tell their Facebook friends they'll share photos when they return, and kids' electronics should be limited to long flights or car rides. If the kids are antsy during down time on vacation, encourage them to write or draw in a travel journal.
5. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
There will pretty much always be hiccups you can’t plan ahead for, but acting out and dramatizing it will only add to disappointment. "You want to be the kind of person who can turn lemons into lemonade, but we all get handed lemons when we travel. Figure out how to make the best of it, and turn it into something good," Perrin said. Not only will this help you have a less stressful time, it'll show your kids a great example of how to handle disappointments, snafus, and changes of plan—something they’ll carry with them (and that’ll make them awesome travelers) for life.