Wednesday, July 23

7 Ways to Survive Traveling with Family

Our vacation to Williamsburg, Virginia was the third vacation I've taken with Mr. Q and his family.  My first experience traveling with his family was a trip to Oak Island, North Carolina with Mr. Q and his parents, sister, aunt and uncle, cousins, and grandparents when we were dating.  Having grown up an only child and used to vacationing with just my mom and dad, staying in a beach house with a large group of family members took some adjusting on my part!  Traveling with family members is so different than traveling with just your significant others, or even with a group of friends.  It can be so rewarding to share experiences and make memories with family.  Today I wanted to share seven survival strategies I've developed on our family vacations.

1. Be flexible.  Traveling with family means going with the flow - it's not solely your vacation, and you've got more than one person to compromise with.  Sometimes that means you'll eat lunch at a restaurant that isn't necessarily your first choice.  Sometimes it means you won't get to go on your planned kayaking trip because of thunderstorms.  If the restaurant your family member chooses isn't your favorite, there's still probably something on the menu that will be delicious to you (my mother in law is the queen of ordering chicken at seafood restaurants).  Having a sense of humor goes a long way - pouting because you didn't get your way doesn't make you feel any better, AND it makes the rest of the family miserable!  

2. Know your personal vacation style.  I know, I just got done reminding you that it's not all about you, but knowing where your personal comfort zone begins and ends, and whether you're an introvert or an extrovert can be really helpful when traveling with a group.  As an introvert, I need at least a little bit of alone time each day, so I might go down to the gym solo, go for a walk, do some yoga in my room, or read my book on the balcony.  I need that time to recharge and my family understands that I still love hanging out with them - just not 24/7.  It's also okay to pass on activities you know you definitely won't enjoy.

3.  Acknowledge different vacation styles.  I'm an only child, so growing up I pretty much ran the show on family vacations, and my family's trips were pretty packed with activities.  Now that I travel with Mr. Q's family, I've realized that some people value relaxing over sightseeing, especially since unlike me the other members of my family don't get summers off from their jobs!  I've learned that watching television and taking naps are totally valid vacation activities, AND that the world won't end if I go for a swim, check out a cute boutique, or visit a museum by myself while the family gets their nap on.

4. Visit the "touristy" attractions...  Popular places are popular for a reason - they might be a little bit quirky or tacky, but chances are they appeal to a wide range of ages.  It's great to find activities that appeal to everyone in your group, but when that's not possible, let go of your inhibitions and enjoy the Sesame Street themed part of the amusement park with your little cousin, or the Christmas store with your mother-in-law.

5.  But don't forget to get off the beaten path.  Some of the most fun things we did on our trip to Tennessee last year were actually Plan B - things we ended up doing because it poured down rain all week!  Most hotels and resorts have plenty of brochures about local attractions in their lobbies or activity centers, local travel magazines (with discounts!) can be found at the grocery store, and online resources like Yelp make it even easier to find something to do.  Do a little research, find one thing that you know you'll enjoy, and get your family on board.  Or, if you're feeling really adventurous, pick a quirky neighborhood or cute street to explore without expectations.

6.  Divide and conquer.  On our family trips, we spend plenty of time as a big group, but we also spend time in smaller groups.  We might do mother/daughters time and go get pedicures while the guys watch a movie, or let the parents have a date night while the young folks go explore the city.  It's also important to me that Mr. Q and I have at least a little bit of couple time for a date night or daytime excursion.

7.  Do your part.  Mr. Q and I know we are lucky that his parents actually want us to come along on their vacations!  We make sure to chip in on groceries and help with chores.  Whether someone else is footing the majority of the vacation or you're splitting the costs, everyone will appreciate it if you do your dishes, keep your space clean, and don't leave your belongings lying around in communal areas.  Maybe even volunteer to cook breakfast or make lunch for everyone - you'll be the vacation hero!

I hope that these trips will be helpful to those of you who will be traveling with your families this summer.  It is possible to travel with in-laws and not only survive but have an awesome time!  Have you traveled with family members?  Would you consider a family vacation?

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  1. Spending quality time together is so important! The other day I saw a family where they were all on different electronic devices with headphones in and didn't say one word to each other the whole time I was beside them! It was so, so sad! Love these tips girl :) and the blog! Glad I found you today and I will definitely be coming back to see more of your posts!

    1. We definitely had some moments on our family trip where all of us had our smartphones, iPads and laptops out, but we try to save that for downtime! When we are out sighseeing or having dinner it's all about enjoying our destination and each other's company.

  2. True! I prefer traveling solo but when I'm with my family it's important to be flexible and make compromises in order to have a peaceful trip ;)

  3. At this point I've been on 4 vacations with my in-laws and I definitely agree that "Go With the Flow" is the way to do things. Most times I wind up just letting my SIL & MIL plan things, and find out what happening once I'm there. Although if there's something I really want, like going to Harry Potter on our Disney World vacation, I make sure it happens even if it's just me and the boy.

    1. Exactly! I never want to leave a vacation feeling like there was something I didn't "get" to do, but I'm not going to drag my in-laws along to something they probably won't enjoy. Luckily we are all history buffs so we usually want to visit the same attractions, but Dad Q just doesn't get hyped about shopping like the rest of us, and Mama Q and I can't get my SIL to go to the spa with us despite our efforts :)