As children get older, their parents and siblings may not be their ideal travel partners, since family will inevitably butt heads at some point, but there’s something special about family vacations. The way that you know these people will always be special in your life, in a way a partner or group of friends or business team can never be.
But as valuable as those trips can be for the memory bank, there are many people who don’t know how to plan a family trip once the whole family is grown up, where everyone gets along…for the most part.
Depending on your relationship with your family members, here are the roles you should play and the places you should travel so everyone is as happy and cohesive as possible.
The “Best Friend” Family Member
Whether it’s your sister, your dad, or your younger cousin, there’s always someone in the family who plays more of a friend role than family, and because of these more relaxed relationships, traveling can be less stressful. If you are on the same wave length as someone, either both relaxed or both adventurers, then you can vacation anywhere you both want to visit. Whether it’s Disney World or Greece.
Planning a trip with your best friend family member really only means agreeing to go and then enjoying yourself while you’re there. If only it were that easy to get the whole family together…
The “Take Control” Family Member
If you or someone from your family that you are thinking of traveling with is normally the one to take charge at events and lead the way, then it’s important to understand this dynamic from the beginning.
If you have multiple leader type family members, both trying to lead their own type of trip, that’s when people start to butt heads. Complex trips are not ideal if there are multiple leaders. Try a simple itinerary that’s worked out in advance, either a cruise, an all inclusive or a guided tour. Otherwise the leader becomes the tour guide and some family members can become resentful.
Make sure you all know the plans. If there are certain activities on certain days, make sure that everyone is on board in advance, otherwise you’ll have the leader trying to hustle everyone together and the rest of the family going in every which way wanting to do their own thing instead.
Some people love planning vacations. They research for hours, book everything in advance. Collect points, find deals, color coordinate their suitcase, the whole nine yards! Others…well they’re lucky if they have their passport with them at the airport.
The “Scatterbrain” Family Member
Losing someone from your group, or forgetting something and having to go back for it, is always stressful while traveling. If you have a scatterbrain in the family, it may sound patronizing, but make sure that there’s a chaperone of sorts to help them out. Someone to make sure their suitcase zips up, that they didn’t put liquid in their carry on, that they didn’t accidentally forget their passport in the bathroom stall etc.
Scatterbrains are typically so laid back they don’t care where they go. Whether it’s London or a road trip across America, the only thing to look out for is that they don’t do anything to set the more organized members of the trip off.
ALTHOUGH, it’s really important to know that if you treat a leader or any other type of family member like a scatterbrain, and chaperone them, they will lash out. People don’t like being monitored and checked up on, so only be there for those in the family who really need it.
I’ll admit I’m a scatterbrain, I’ve missed flights, booked things on the wrong day, forgotten or lost things and made loads of mistakes, so I don’t mind if you ask me if I have liquids in my carry on, just don’t ask the same questions over and over again…that’s such a family thing to do.
The “Opinionated” Family Member
There’s always that family member who doesn’t want to push anyone into something they don’t want to do, but they want to subtly convince the rest of the family that their idea is best. If you or someone in your family feels like they know best, and their ideas are better, be careful. Leaders and opinionated travelers don’t always see eye to eye.
This smart opinionated traveler can either save you loads of money taking the city bus rather than the typical taxi, or can get you lost in their well-intentioned short cut.
Whether it’s the kids making snide comments about how they knew this wasn’t the right way to drive, or someone insisting that the metro system is faster than walking, some people have trouble giving up the opportunity to be right in the sake of fun and family sanity.
No matter where you go, this person will always have an opinion, so pick a vacation where the least amount of choices need to be made. A rustic family cottage perhaps?
If you’re the smart opinionated traveler, use your ideas to bring your family together, through asking questions and seeking opinions, rather than driving them apart but simply stating what the best thing to do is.
The “Just want to be Happy” Family Member
Then of course there’s always the most passive family member, who doesn’t push or lead or forget, they just want to have fun. It may not be the family member you jive with most, but it’s not someone who is going to de-rail the vacation. If you have a few happy people, best friends, scatterbrains and one leader or smarty, you’re set for a solid family vacation.
Figuring out your travel personality type, and those of your family members is key in terms of how to plan a family trip successfully.