6 Tips to Avoid Fights While on a Family Vacation
Going on vacation with your family is supposed to be a time of relaxation and fun, but it can become stressful if you don’t know how to avoid arguing and fighting while on a family vacation. In this article, we’ll give you 6 tips for avoiding fights while on a family vacation, so that you can enjoy your time away without any drama.
1. Establish Some Ground Rules Before You Leave
Setting ground rules before you leave can help prevent any arguments or disagreements.
To avoid fighting before you even leave, decide with your partner what time you will be leaving, preferably a window of time–for example you will leave your home between 5 and 6am.
Talk about how you will divide up responsibilities while on vacation.
If you have small children, what time will bedtime for them be while away?
Do any of your teen or college aged kids have special dietary needs? Anyone a vegan or vegetarian? (see #2). Take those into consideration when planning your vacation meals.
If you or your partner likes to drink, discuss in advance and decide together what will be okay and what will not be okay. If one person gets drunk on vacation, then the care of the children will fall to the other parent who may be resentful if this was not agreed upon in advance.
2. Plan Your Daily Activities and Meals.
If you have planned an itinerary, you want to try to stick to what you have agreed to. But the best laid plans often go astray, so be prepared to pivot and make adjustments as needed. If possible, give the other family members some options. If they are young children, give them no more than two or three options that you and your partner have decided would be appropriate.
Planning meals is an often overlooked issue that can lead to explosive arguing and family fights. Does anyone have dietary special needs? Do you have a vegan in the family? A diabetic? Will some meals be eaten in your hotel or condo?
When planning to eat out, be sure to have more than one option and try to stick to a mutually agreed to time for meals. Trying to find a place to eat while everyone is starving can be super stressful.
3. Be Flexible and Kind
Often on vacation, the weather doesn’t cooperate, a child tantrums, a teenager oversleeps, the restaurant wait is too long, etc. Things are likely to go wrong. It is important to be patient and address the problem with your partner to learn what the best way to change gears will be. If you don’t agree with your partner, let them know how you feel without being angry or rude.
4. Set Some Limits.
Your children are likely to ask to do things or buy things you do not want them to do or have. Set limits with them before heading out. If you are going to allow them to buy things or spend money, give them a certain amount of money and while out, teach them how they can spend their money wisely.
If you give a ten year old $20, they might want to spend it on the first thing they see that they like. If you suggest they wait and look around at other options, they will learn how to have patience and not be impulsive. If you don’t want your child buying candy or something you feel is inappropriate, establish the rule before entering the gift shop. Be clear about your expectations.
5. Plan a Budget and Stick to it.
While planing your vacation, together with your partner plan a vacation budget. It is important to stick to your budget while on vacation. Fights often happen because one person may want to spend more money than planned which may stress their partner.
If something is not going according to plan, or even if it is and you are unhappy or uncomfortable, be sure to communicate to your partner how you are feeling and ask how they are feeling.
If you are traveling with in-laws or another family, decide together with your partner how to approach the other adults on the trip about a conflict or problem. Resolve to remain calm, kind, and patient.
Vacations are great times to make memories with your partner and children. But they are often not very relaxing due to poor planning or communication issues.
Keep in mind that you and your family all share the same goal: to have an enjoyable vacation. Be prepared to be flexible, patient, and if your partner is angry or raising their voice, do not match their energy and yell back. Calmly reply and suggest you both take a break for a few minutes to calm down.
Don’t allow things to escalate. Think about whether you want to be right or you want to get along.
Long standing problems in a relationship often blow up while on vacation. You are not likely going to resolve them on vacation. Resolve to put differences aside.
When you return from your trip, ask your partner if they will agree to relationship counseling to finally resolve old issues that seem to keep coming up.
If you would like some help planning your family vacation so that it will be relatively conflict free, give us a call or send an email. We can help you plan so that conflict is minimized or when it arises, coping strategies are in place to avoid any escalations.
Or, if you have just returned from a vacation and there was too much conflict, we can help you sort it out and repair whatever damage was done.
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More from Psychology Today on how to avoid fighting on a family vacation: Preventing Family Fights on Vacation