Traveling with our relatives, friends, or family can make or break relationships. Sometimes things go sideways and tempers flare. Traffic, line-ups, and irritations will happen. Group holidays can also be exciting and fun. Here are a few tips to create a vacation that will be remembered for its fabulous destination, great food, and activities. Avoid a blow-up or tears at the Happiest Place on Earth.
As humans, we easily express our needs, fears, wishes, and worldviews. We also communicate our attitudes and past grudges that can surface at inappropriate times. This can happen more frequently when we travel with those we love. People get cranky when they are tired, hungry or stressed. This is not a good time to make decisions. You will avoid hurt feelings and disappointment if everyone has input and the plan is clearly communicated. Hidden grievances may be simmering beneath those smiles. Overwhelming situations can cause emotional outbursts at the least convenient time.
Gather suggestions and expectations of the group then create a comprehensive trip plan. People don’t like or expect surprises when they have a clear vision of their perfect holiday. Decide what arrangements are necessary and create a list of things that need to be done. Who is responsible for: insurance, air and ground transportation, passports, accommodation, visas, maps, tickets to attractions, food, and packing?
Delegate tasks to share the load so that the planning process goes as smoothly as possible. Don’t exhaust yourself. Make sure everyone has the necessary travel documents and immunizations well in advance of your departure date – pets too. If you intend to leave BC while traveling with a minor, you may require a permission letter from their other parent.
Before you leave – have an open, honest discussion about budget and finances. Is everyone able to afford the side trip to Six Flags? Be willing to sacrifice, compromise or split up for a day or two. Determine in advance who pays for what? Consider things like: How will you split meals, flights, hotels, driving, gas, rental cars? What will the accommodations and sleeping arrangements be? Book rooms with breathing space for everyone. Although the youngest may have called shotgun, switch up seats to keep things fair. Remember, those who are introverts will appreciate alone time and extroverts are often social butterflies who will need less time to recharge. Plan accordingly.
Be a considerate, reasonable, and mindful travel companion. Flexibility and patience go a long way. Balance being laid back and sharing control. Try to see things from the other’s perspective before getting defensive. Know when to ‘go with the flow’ and don’t get caught up in the drama. Let things calm down before checking in, then encourage face to face conversations to clear the air. Adjust plans if needed. Have a trip pact, on this airplane, boat, car, canoe trip we TALK it out.
- Breathe. Don’t avoid conflict. Use a “Let me help” approach, teamwork allows space to resolve issues.
- Consider how you typically respond, what would make this better? A tone of voice matters.
- Communicate clearly – I feel (What is the emotion?), when (Describe what you observed in an objective, non-emotional, neutral way) because (What effect does it have on you or the group?) and I want (What would you like to see happen?)
- Respect the other person/people in the conflict.
- Listen more than you talk, no blaming or shaming, own your feelings.
- Assume the person had good intentions. Stop, think, talk and resolve.
Make time for yourself so that resentment doesn’t build up. A little space can work wonders. Go for a swim or walk. Read a book. Do yoga. And don’t forget, time-outs and naps, benefit ALL ages.
Having a plan to deal with conflict will keep people calm and make the trip enjoyable for everyone.
This article will appear in West Shore Family Magazine Spring Edition