When people think vacation, relaxation and fun always springs to mind. Going away with the family brings in the reality of stress while trying to juggle different personalities and interest. How does one get to relax and enjoy a place when some many people in a group want to do a hundred things in such a short period of time?
Before I can answer that we need to understand the kinds of people who travel to these tourist destinations.
There are 6 types of tourists in the world:
#1 The extreme adventure tourist, enjoys climbing the alphas without oxygen or base jumping off some ancient bridge.
Thank god I don’t know anyone like this. We would never be compatible but there is a way we both could enjoy our trip. I’ll explain how in a minute.
#2 The active nature traveler loves hiking around exploring the natural landscape. They will walk everywhere instead of opting for a car, taxi or bus.
My husband is one of these. It can be annoying sometimes because he thinks everyone in the group has the same stamina and physique as him. No matter how much you tell him he is convinced a 3 year old can walk 5 miles without a carry.
#3 There is the educational tourist who makes sightseeing more than looking around at old buildings and statue. They research before going and actually listen to retain the facts of the audio guide.
My father-in-law is a prime example of this type of tourist. He will rattle off facts to us on the transport to the site as well as give us more information as we walk around the building. He also likes to drink like the fourth type of tourist.
#4 The third type of tourist. The bachelor/bachelorette tourists. (Or more accurately called the drinking travelers). There doesn’t have to be a bachelor party. These people are on vacation to bar and/or club crawl for the whole of the vacation.
My husband is one of them he would be happy to sit in the bar from afternoon to night. With two small ones, ages 3 and 6, this isn’t the ideal place for children to spend a lot of time in. Luckily, my husband is also capable of being on the spectrum of the next category of tourists.
#5 The backpacker. These travelers pack light, go for bargain travelling, try to visit things off the beaten path, and travel to explore cultures and meet new people. They turn disasters into lessons while being flexible to change their travel plans to suit the conditions they’re in. For example, if the city they are visiting seems dull or just not their style, they will hop on a bus/train/hitchhike to another place. Or simply, find some activity in the place that closer suits their personality. The activity may not be ideal but the backpacker will find a way to make the most out of it.
I’m more of the backpacker tourist. That’s how I started travelling alone after college. And I prefer it that way which is made difficult by the final group of travelers.
#6 The leisure tourist. These people only leave their hotel to go to the beach. They leave towels on sunbeds marking their permanent laying spot for the next 12 hours, before running off to breakfast. Leisure tourist know nothing about their travel destination except sun, beach, hotel facilities and the airport. They pretend to like sightseeing but in fact hate waiting, crowds, standing in line and have no real interest in the culture or history of their temporary surroundings.
My mother, mother-in-law, and two young children are the leisure tourists.
So we have a drinking-active-backpacker, a backpacker, an educational-drinking tourist and four leisure tourists who are sharing a family holiday together. Two cannot walk 5 minutes without having to get a taxi. Three hate crowds, amusement parks and lines. Two want to stay held up in a bar. Another two only want to buy toys and watch cartoons. One has an attitude about everything because he is constantly too hot and is dead sober most of the time. No one likes to make a decision on where to go or what to do. And the heat of the August humidity in Barcelona during high tourist season causes more tension and frustrations in the group.
Barcelona is a huge cosmopolitan city with almost as many tourist as inhabitants. Public transport is easily accessible. You will have to walk for at least 15 to 20 minutes
to really get around the city and get a feel for it.
This description already had family members voicing doubts about visiting Barcelona. Big city and tourists meant crowds. Crowds meant lines. Public transport equaled to waiting. Walking for more than 5 minutes!?! In the heat!?!
I had lost half of the group’s excitement to go during planning for the trip. Yet we tried it anyway. Barcelona was the city to visit in Spain. We had to check it out.
And that’s what led me to my list of family vacation survival guidelines:
1. Flexibility is key!
Not every one can do everything they want throughout the vacation. Keep activities short with a break or two of rest time. Rest back at the hotel or at a restaurant for a long lunch or sit somewhere on a park bench while the kids play. You will find that these rest times will help rejuvenate the inactive part of your group.
Plus, have activities throughout the day that will make each (or most) of the different kinds of travelers satisfied that the have done something to enjoy their vacation.
2. Plan it but don’t freak out in changes to the plan.
Loosely plan your trip. Find certain popular activities and book them. This will avoid some lines. Then have a list of activities for the group to discuss doing over lunch or dinner or while enjoying the resting period. The things that are booked will make sure you did something during your trip other than pondering what to do. Also, giving family members options in the vacation will make them feel they have a say in the group’s plans. It relieves feelings of resentment towards being herded around.
3. “I don’t mind. I’ll do what the group wants to do” Trap.
Don’t fall for that crap! It is a way to get out of making any decisions and allows others to easily complain during, and well after, the undesirable event that someone else planned.
Forget that! Get everyone to verbally commit to an agreement and place a no complaining cause on that shit! No one wants to hear your Debbie Downer mouth! It just adds to the frustrations of the day.
4. Stolen moments can keep the romance going.
A sneaky ass pat here. A quick hug there. Hell, grab your partner into a small corner for s speedy tongue wrestling move. Hold hands. Tickle each other in passing. These little shows of affection can remind each other that through this hell the love is still there, which will keep you both in good spirits.
5.Suck it up.
You may have to do something that you don’t want to do. Take one for the team. There will be an activity for you to do later in the day. This short time slot is to make a loved one, a relative, happy. Don’t be selfish by pouting and scoffing out your boredom or uncomfortableness. That will only make people feel bad for making you do the activity which makes them unable to enjoy it. It’s a family vacation remember. Family spending happy moments together. So don’t ruin it and make with the happy!
6. Can’t fake it, take a time out.
You don’t have to spend the whole vacation with each other. Maybe it could help if you split the day. Half of it can be whole family bonding time while the other half is grab a partner (or two) and do what you want. Set a time to meet up later. This way more people can be happy apart as well as together.
7. Have a drink and chill the F out.
If these tips prove hard to accomplish or you can’t get your family to comply, drinking will help you not care what happens and it may get you to enjoy the events that you did not want to do. Therefore, have a cocktail and a smile so you can enjoy your vacation.
8. Put the phone away!
Unless you are using it for taking photos and selfies, there is no need to be checking your phone every few minutes. Facebook and other social medias can wait until rest time or right before bed. You can not spend time with others if you are playing on your phone the whole time. Be there physically and mentally. Can’t do that, then leave the phone in the hotel room.
Also, remember this is your family members vacation, too. They deserve to enjoy it as well. The point is for family time away from home. Keep that in mind before the snapping and bickering begins.
What are some ways you survive family vacations? What has been your worst or best family get together trip? Share in the comments below.