It’s summertime and the living is supposed to be easy, but for many families it’s not. Having the kids home from school too often means more bickering, fighting, and sassing from the teenagers. Take heart, families, it is possible to enjoy the vacation and holiday time with everyone together. Plan a trip that actually benefits your family’s relationships.
Travel That Promotes Healthy Family Relationships
You are likely wondering how to build your family relationship with travel. Or perhaps you are wondering if you can even afford to do so. The secret is that meaningful family vacations don’t have to be fancy or expensive. Sure, go ahead and splurge on the big trip if you can afford it, but it’s not the cost of the vacation that makes the difference.
Don’t even think about a “working” vacation, whatever that means. Leave the laptop at home, send all work calls directly to voice mail, and don’t check the work email. At all. Families know when you’re checking out mentally. Let them know that for one week, at least, they are a priority. An easy way to avoid temptations is to vacay in a spot where cell service and Wi-Fi are not great. Go camping in the Adirondacks, for example.
Another option to consider is cruises from Sydney, Australia. If you’re in a different time zone and on the other side of the planet, all office problems will have resolved themselves before they can even track you down.
Both as you’re planning the trip and while you’re on it, listen to and consider the requests of other family members. Let each person have their moment to do something they enjoy. Jane wants to kayak. Great. Everyone can kayak one afternoon. John wants to go the museum. Add that to the itinerary, too. Two things are important here. The first is that no one individual determines all the activities. The second is that everyone participates together. John may not like kayaking. That’s OK. He can do it one afternoon to support Jane. Bonding occurs when members of the family learn to sacrifice their own momentary enjoyment for someone else’s.
Playing together as a family is key to a healthier, happier home environment, and there’s no better place to play than on vacations. Going camping? Stash a few favorite card games in the car for those rainy hours you’ll be stuck in your tent or trailer. Flying to Europe? Travel sized board games make airport waits enjoyable. Take a game or two on a cruise as well. It’s true that cruises have a lot of built-in entertainment, but there may be times your children want a quiet night in the cabin and that’s a perfect time to play.
Travel can be unpredictable, especially with a family. Keep your sense of humor and be ready to change plans at a moment’s notice. If it’s raining the day you planned to go to an outdoor event, don’t agonize over it. It’s often the unplanned things you do on vacation that your children will remember the most. If you thought you’d squeeze in one more museum visit and the kids just aren’t interested, let them run around on the lawn instead. It’s a good idea to have one “unplanned” day on your trip. This gives your family the opportunity to relax a bit and regroup.
If you’re in any kind of family relationship you already know the importance of patience. It plays an ever bigger role in family vacations. Travel involves a lot of waiting; waiting in lines, waiting for weather to clear, waiting on family members to put their shoes on. Use that time to meditate on how much you enjoy and love your family, and the annoyance about the wait will disappear.
Plan your next trip with your family in mind. You’ll enjoy the stronger bonds that result.