Although it may seem counter-intuitive to say so, family holidays don’t always go according to plan. Every family has a story of a trip intended to be relaxing that’s gone horribly wrong and ended up as a nightmare. Getting family holidays right is actually a fine art, and if you’re going to attempt to do so yourself, there is a list of things you’ll need to know. Some aspects of a great family holiday are, unfortunately, entirely out of your control, but others aren’t. Here’s how you and your family can have an unforgettable holiday without succumbing to the dreaded holiday from hell.
Plan for your memories
One thing many families forget when they go on holiday is to document their trip in photo form. You should start making arrangements for photographic prints before you go if possible, but if not, make sure to hunt down a high-quality print service for your photo prints. Doing so means you’ll have the trip in physical form and you’ll always be able to remember what you did and where you went. You can even get the prints on unconventional things like mugs, calendars, and even personalised phone cases. It’s well worth getting prints after you’ve gone.
Keep a checklist
Before you leave, you need to assemble a checklist for your holiday to make sure that everyone has what they need. There’s nothing worse than reaching the airport with time to spare, only to realise that a family member has forgotten a passport or some important item of luggage. Assemble your checklist way ahead of time so as to allow for additions or amendments. Time is golden when it comes to holiday planning, so allow yourself plenty of it. We’re talking months before you actually leave. If you think of something in the interim, it’s much easier to add it than to rush back for it on the day.
Don’t get in each other’s way
Everyone has a particular and unique way that they like to approach holidays. In every stage of the process – from planning to actually travelling to enjoying your time while you’re at your destination – it’s important to respect that about each other. Don’t be offended if a family member decides they want to spend a day without you; it just means they value their independence, and you should too. Similarly, if you want to be alone but a family member would really like your company, consider agreeing; a harmonious family holiday involves compromise, after all.
Create a list of activities
Believe it or not, it is entirely possible to get bored while on holiday. Just because you find yourself in a new location doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to constantly make the most of your time while you’re there. As such, it pays to have a list of activities to do while you’re travelling, especially if you have kids who are more prone to boredom than adults are. You don’t always have to adhere to the list – after all, sometimes it’s good for kids to be bored – but having it there, along with a raft of board games and other activities, is a great idea as a backup.
One of the most common arguments we hear about from families going on holiday is where everyone should eat in the evening or for lunch. You can eliminate this argument entirely if you decide to go self-catering. Bringing your own food, essentials, and other items you’ll need is an excellent way not only to keep costs down but also to bring home with you to your new destination. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a meal out with your family, of course, but it does add a raft of new options if you’re just not feeling a ritzy evening.
Don’t be ashamed to stay in
When we go on holiday, we can sometimes feel pressured to do everything we possibly can with our time. More often than not, this involves going out even when we don’t want to and potentially damaging our mental (not to mention physical) health. You don’t need to hold yourself to this kind of standard, though. If you don’t feel like hitting the town one night, then it’s perfectly fine to find a small cafe and nurse a coffee or even to just stay in the hotel room and watch TV all evening. This applies more to longer breaks than weekends, but it still stands for those, too.
Get regular exercise
Going on holiday is no excuse to neglect your physical health; after all, you don’t simply stop gaining weight or becoming unhealthy just because you’re breaking your regular routine. There are plenty of ways you can pursue a healthy exercise routine while you’re on holiday. Of course, hardcore gym-heads will find a way not to break their routine, but even those of us who don’t worship at the exercise altar can simply take a long walk along the beach. You might even be exercising without realising it. There’s no better feeling than coming back from holiday feeling healthier than when you left, and it’ll make you feel closer as a family, too!
De-escalate arguments immediately
Arguments are going to happen between you and your family while you’re on holiday; they’re basically inevitable given that you have three or more personalities clashing and a very enclosed space in which they can clash. You need to make it your mission to de-escalate arguments the instant you see them rearing their ugly head. Instead of rising to whatever bait you perceive in something someone says, try saying “I want to talk about how that made me feel”, or “let’s calm down and come at this from a different angle”. You’d be amazed how much your family will respect you for doing so.