Four Tips to Preserve the Peace on Family Trips
I’ve been living back at the family homestead for most of this summer without incident. However, a recent family trip–along with a tweet from a friend traveling to San Francisco with her family–reminded me: there’s a big difference between getting along with your family at home and getting along with them on a trip.
The biggest issue is that, a lot of the time, you can’t leave. If your sibling starts bugging you while the family’s on the interstate, well, you just have to suck it up You don’t want to blow up whatever peace you’ve made with your family in one weekend outing, so here are some tips to keep your sanity about you while traveling.
Bring Music: This is a little bit of a no-brainer, but remember to bring whatever device you use to listen to music and its charger and headphones. You can either listen to the music you own or–my favorite–use an app like TuneIn to tune out whoever’s sitting next to you. Smiling and nodding at your sibling on the sixth hour of a car trip is a lot easier when you’re listening to Katy Perry loud enough to turn your brains to liquid.
Research Your Destination: If your family is anything like mine, they’re likely to leave you out of the trip planning loop because they still think of you as a kid. So, be proactive: make sure that you find out where you’re going and what there is to do there. If you can find something that you actually want to do wherever you’re going, you can have at least one activity to look forward to.
Escape (At Least for an Hour): Part of what’s frustrating about traveling with family as opposed to friends is that it’s much harder to leave your family to go do your own thing for a while. However, if it’s at all possible to leave for a little bit, do it. You’ll be able to decompress and enjoy yourself. Even if you’re not in a very exciting location, just go for a walk around the block for a little bit–you need time to breathe (and possibly call your friends to rant for a minute).
Set Ground Rules: This goes for both parents and any siblings. For the parent end, figure out exactly what your parents expect from you: can you drink? Do you have to be back at the hotel/cabin/whatever by a certain time? Can you explore the city on your own? Figure this out before you head on to your destination so that there aren’t any surprises when you get there. For siblings, as much as you can, try to head off any arguments that you know are going to happen by settling hot-button issues (like, can your sibling pry about your personal life? Who gets to control the AC in the car?) before you leave for your trip.
Family travel is probably always going to be a little stressful, but with any luck and these tips, your trip will be more happy than rage-inducing. And if not… that’s what headphones are for.