Five ways to ruin a family vacation

We’re deep in the throes of summer. It may not feel like it now, but autumn is already on the horizon. That means that it’s time for a beloved annual tradition – one defined by equal parts joy, frustration, excitement, dread, love, and yelling.

It’s time for a family vacation!

Family vacations are wonderful opportunities to see new sights, create timeless memories, and test the limits of your tolerance for one another. In time you may come to reflect positively on all of those moments spent together, but as it’s actually happening family vacations can go south in a hurry. In fact, here are five ways you can pretty much guarantee that your vacation will be an unmitigated disaster.

Not considering everyone’s personality

There is absolutely no “right” way to go on vacation. That’s the beautiful thing about having fun – it looks different for everyone. But understanding that difference is crucial to making sure everyone gets to have fun.

For example, some people love to be spontaneous – they love to just do whatever. That’s great for them, but not so great for the people who need a plan. Because some really need to know what’s happening and when it’s happening.

Neither way is right or wrong. But if you want to have a vacation that everyone enjoys, you need to understand the personalities involved. By understanding how everyone has fun, you can begin to craft the kind of compromises you’ll need to make sure everyone’s on the same page. And compromise is important.

Failing to have the right money conversations

Vacations can be expensive, so you should already be considering what’s an appropriate amount to spend, based on your budget. More than simply knowing how much you can afford, however, you need to think about your attitude towards money while you’re on vacation.

Spending money can be stressful, and vacations, as noted, can cause you to spend a lot of money. The rub here is that with the wrong attitude you may become too stressed about money to enjoy the thing you’re spending all the money on. You need to remember what the money is buying you – happiness, fun, bonding, memories, etc.

Create a vacation budget. Do the best you can to plan a trip that gets you the fun you want at a price you can live with. But somewhere in there you need to agree to forget about money while you’re actually on vacation. Focus on the fun. Don’t let financial worrying ruin an otherwise great time.

Not planning for lulls

When you’re an adult, the moments in-between the action are just as good, if not better, than the big events of a vacation. Vacations are tiring – downtime is a blessing.

It’s not quite the same for kids. Everything that isn’t doing (or sleeping) is generally less than enthralling for kids. That holds especially true for traveling.

It’s a lot of work to plan for a vacation, but if you want to ensure that you have a good time, do a little extra work and create a plan or two for the in-between times. Think of ways to distract and engage with your kids on the way to and from the next big adventure.

Worrying too much about “capturing” special moments

Technology is great, but you could reasonably argue that the advent of smart phones and social media sites has created an enormous disconnect between our ability to capture the moment and our ability to actively appreciate that same moment.

Memories are not wild rabbits – they aren’t things to be snared, trapped, or captured. They’re supposed to be experienced. And not experienced later, after you’ve uploaded the video version of your memory to Facebook, but right now, as they’re happening.

The ability to instantaneously share your real world experiences with friends and family far and wide is amazing, and it isn’t wrong by any stretch. Just don’t let that desire to share dictate how you interact with those real moments. Because the memories will be there – whether you took a picture or not, whether you got 50 “likes” or not. So focus on what’s around you. You’ll have a lot more fun for it.

Forgetting that vacations are fun

Vacations exist in the negative space where work is not present. They’re anti-work. Putting it all together might feel like work, but the vacation itself shouldn’t. It should feel fun – however that feels for you.

We often find new and creative ways to not enjoy our justly deserved vacations. We worry about the cost. We worry about getting lost. We stress about not “doing everything” or seeing all there is to see, as though vacations were a contest that we might lose if we don’t drive ourselves to the brink of exhaustion.

Understand what’s fun for those on the trip. Where divides exist, find reasonable compromises. After that, just have fun. Enjoy the journey. You can’t control everything, but you can control your attitude. You can choose to have fun. Why would you ever choose the alternative?

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI, focused on creating and delivering valuable educational materials that help families through everyday and extraordinary financial challenges.

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