Traveling is always a blast when you’re single. After all, what’s better than being in complete control of your destiny? When things go well your self-esteem goes through the roof, and you’re rightly ready for any challenge. But even if things do go awry, with nobody to blame but yourself you can’t complain. There’s beauty in that kind of accountability.
Add a spouse and children to any traveling adventure, however, and we’re talking a significant increase in the risks. The list of things that can (and will) go wrong is long, and can be extremely dangerous to your mental health. Remember, traveling, at its core, is a mental test that reveals every character flaw. With that in mind here are some crucial steps to take before planning your next family adventure.
1.) Involve everyone in the planning phase: this is essential for family-wide buy-in. It doesn’t matter if your youngest is 6, or 16, they’re going to want to have a say in matters, whether it’s where you’re staying, what you’re eating, or what you’re doing. This is their vacation too. They deserve a voice. So skip this step at your own peril.
2.) Give each member of the family their day: Every good family adventure has something for everyone. But not all families love to do the same thing. This is where the great compromise must happen. If mom wants to relive her horse-riding youth, then damn it kids, it’s time to saddle up (see accompanying video). But at the same time, if the kids want to go wake boarding then mom should find a way to stay involved, even if that means all she’s doing is manning the ski flag or taking pictures. When executed properly, this compromise leads to some powerful family bonding, as the biggest byproduct is a mutual understanding.
3.) Bridge the gaps: Yes, getting there is half the fun, but it can also be 90% of the misery if you’re not prepared, because some family differences are simply incompatible. Music vs. talk radio. Movie viewing selection. Eating stops. Ambient noise pollution. Yes, the entire point of your trip is to reconnect, and there should definitely be time for just talking. But if you’ve got a long ride ahead of you headphones aren’t just okay, they’re essential. No matter the decision, if it affects the group, be sure there’s a ripcord for every passenger.