by Alexa D’Agostino
My three siblings and I—ranging in age from 22 to 32—love to vacation with our parents. Yes, you read that right. We have gone on a family vacation every year for almost all 30 years of my life.
According to AAA, more than one-third of Americans were expected to take family vacations in 2016. That’s more than 100 million people spending quality time with their relatives.
There are definite benefits to traveling with my family as an adult. Our daily lives are busy, but these trips give us uninterrupted time to come together, catch up and focus on each other. Without children, significant others or friends around, it is easy for my parents, my sisters, my brother and me to connect and enjoy each other’s company without distractions. Family vacations as adults have also allowed my siblings and me to bond in a way we never would have been able to when we were younger. We’re no longer kicking each other’s seats and stealing each other’s fruit snacks. Going on vacation with my parents also means I get to travel to, and experience, amazing places for free. Even if the trip is not free, traveling with your family as an adult can be very cost effective, as you can split the costs on everything from hotel rooms to meals.
Family vacations as an adult child are great, but that doesn’t mean they’re all fun and games. They can be difficult. Yet they’re special experiences that may not be available to you in a few years’ time as your family grows and evolves. Take advantage of them. Here are a few things I’ve learned to help make the most of your next family vacation.
Get Involved in the Planning
This summer, my family took a two-week vacation to Italy. Both of my parents’ families are from Italy, and my mom had been planning this trip for years. In the months before we left, I sat with my mom and pored over possible itineraries for hours. This allowed me to have input into what we did and when we did it. I got to choose some of the activities and, consequently, I knew there were parts of the trip I would definitely enjoy (hello, tuk tuks!).
Look at the Bright Side
Pretty much every day of our Italian trip required us to go on some sort of walking tour, oftentimes outside in the scorching heat. These tours got old very quickly. Before we knew it, my brother was referring to them as death marches. My mom even passed out during one. When you’re hot, sweaty and hungry, your feet hurt and you just can’t hear any more about the founding of Rome, all you want to do is focus on the negative. But I wouldn’t let myself do that. Instead, I concentrated on what an amazing experience I was having and all of the wonderful things I was learning and seeing. My family made these death marches fun, and today we laugh every time we mention them. So focus on what makes the vacation experience special.
Let Everyone Do Something They Enjoy
My mom, sisters and I love shopping, my dad and my brother, not so much. So, we told the men that while we were shopping they should go do something they wanted to do. This was the greatest decision for all involved. Being together as a family is important, but it’s also important to recognize that not everyone enjoys the same things. Allowing individuals to do their preferred activities will help to make the trip more meaningful and special for all.
Before leaving for the trip, my mom had been very clear about one specific place she wanted to visit. It didn’t show up on our itinerary, and going would require more time in the blazing heat and less time to do the things the rest of us really wanted to do. My siblings, my dad and I knew how much going meant to my mom, so we rearranged our schedule and made it happen. At the end of the day, my mom’s happiness was our happiness. Vacation is not always about you, especially when it’s a family vacation. You need to be flexible and willing to make concessions.
Going on a family vacation at any age can be difficult, and it’s even more difficult when you’re an adult and feel like you should be living your own life. But family vacations can be amazing experiences, and keeping these things in mind can help you to have a trip you’ll truly enjoy.
About the Author
Alexa D’Agostino is working on her M.A. in writing and publishing from Emerson College. She works full time in higher education and also writes for the Babson Magazine at Babson College. An avid reader who also loves to travel, Alexa is excited to write for The Culture-ist and to share her experiences around travel, social change and wellness.