Traveling with the In-Laws: Vacation in Paradise?

Travel Sticky Situations: Traveling With In-Laws

As an only child, I embraced marriage as a way to quickly acquire the big family that I always dreamed of. My husband, Ryan, is one of four boys and that meant brothers for me!! And, I’m fortunate to have parent-in-laws who are as fun as they are generous and loving.

But even the best of in-law situations (even friendships) can be tested when you decide to spend precious vacation time together.

photoOur children consider some of these trips to be their most magical because they had cousins to play with, doting grandparents, and loving aunts and uncles. Who doesn’t want to have a sister-in-law to laugh with while watching toddlers at the beach, to stay up late playing cards, or split the cost of a condo rental? But once in awhile, even the most loving families can challenge your sanity–a poor choice of words, a fight between two cousins, not enough sleep, sibling rivalry (and I am not talking about the kids). Here are some tips to help you next time you have a trip planned with the in-laws:

Set Expectations. Whether you are planning the trip together, or you’ve been invited to join along, it’s important that you all understand each other’s trip expectations. Are you going to just chill and relax or will each day be packed with adventure? Communicate! Seems simple enough, right? It’s important to have these conversations before the trip begins so that everyone can relax and enjoy themselves. You should never say or make someone else say, “If I had known it would be like this then I wouldn’t have come.” Vacations are such a wonderful opportunity to get away and have some fun – so be clear about what “fun” is to you and be willing to listen and try what “fun” means to everyone else.

Be Up Front About The Rules You Have For Your Kids. Everyone parents a bit differently and those without kids may not remember or have not experienced what happens when kids are over-tired. If you always put your kids to bed at 8 p.m. and your in-laws are making dinner reservations at 8 p.m., then say something, but do it gently, and don’t wait until you are on the way to the restaurant. It important to let everyone know about the things that matter to you: what kids can and cannot eat, naptimes and bedtimes, behavior, etc.

Be Flexible. With extended families and groups of friends, plans often change quickly or misunderstandings of schedules can jeopardize your most anticipated event. If you are going to travel with others then you have to be willing to bend on some of your typical schedules and even miss out on some expected happenings. If you are trying to keep your kids on a regular nap or bedtime schedule then you may have to miss out on some activities, in order to care for your kids. That’s okay, but everyone else shouldn’t have to sacrifice vacation fun to adjust to your schedule. Don’t lay on guilt trips when you miss out and don’t let anyone give you one for doing what you feel is in the best interest of your family.

Too Much Togetherness is Too Much! It’s important on vacation to have some time for you, whether to relax or explore. That’s when the tips above are most useful by working together, communicating and taking the time to really enjoy your trip; you should be able to get some coveted “me time” and take some time to just be with your spouse. When surrounded by family, it’s good to have some time to connect as a couple, have fun and make sure you are on the same page with the trip plans. Your in-laws might not be happy about it, but you’re totally entitled to some sans-family time. Remember that the rest of the trip is about spending time together too. For larger families, it’s nice for everyone to have some choices and freedom during the day and then all come together for dinner in the evening.

Do Not Disturb. Sleep patterns can really wreak havoc with our vacations, and I mean for adults not just the kiddos. Is your sweetie a snorer? Plan ahead and pack those earplugs. If you have adjoining rooms, you may want to bring some for your relatives. Who’s the morning person? If your father-in-law is up and at’em first thing the morning, then be sure you let him know if you were hoping to sleep in. Perhaps, you could wake up early a morning or two and treat him to an early breakfast or walk on the beach. And be kind to your significant other, too, and allow her that precious time to sleep-in by perhaps following the tip above for your “me time” and take a walk around town or read a few chapters of that book you have been wanting to peruse.

Budgets and Splurges. Let’s face it, money is often an issue for most couples. Before you travel with other couples, family or not, it is important to understand what the expenses are, and what portion you are responsible for. If your in-laws are picking up the tab, then be sure to treat them to a few dinners to show your gratitude. The gesture, not the price tag, will show you appreciate their generosity.

Leave the Baggage at Home. Now this tip is not for your actual luggage. If you are going to go on vacation with family, then leave all the “family baggage” at home and go and have fun. Encourage your spouse to not revert back to 10 years old when he’s around his brothers (sorry, Honey) and parents, and to show them what an amazing person he or she has become. Vacations are a chance to heal old wounds and create new wonderful memories. So enjoy!



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One Response to “Traveling with the In-Laws: Vacation in Paradise?”

  1. Mary says:

    This is a great message and everyone who comes from a big family will benefit from these ideas! It’s just life, and we all have to learn from each other as we enjoy each other.

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