“Remind me never to travel with my parents” one of my friends recently posted on Facebook.

It’s probably something we have all thought at times. Without going into the psychology of it, travelling with parents, adult siblings and even friends can at times be stressful. But it can also be a wonderful experience.

Planning is the key to organising a holiday with extended family and friends. You cannot bury your head in the sand and expect everything will just flow. Here are my tips on what you should consider:

Choosing the accommodation

Everyone is going to have different expectations. Be about open about likes and limitations. Consider everyone’s budget, features you would like and whether you want to share one place or stay in your own rooms in the same complex.

There is no point one person researching accommodation that will cost $2000 for the week if someone only has a budget of $1000. It might sound like hard work, but you will get a short list and come up with something everyone is happy (or at least satisfied) with.

Eating arrangements

Last year I was lucky enough to stay in a beautiful Italian villa with my family, my brother and his family and my parents – a total of 6 adults and 4 children.

Believe it or not, the issue that caused the most tension was dinner. My brother and his wife do not like cooking while on holiday and wanted to eat out. However, my husband & I believed a barbecue or take away pizza at the villa was a better option.

Neither of us was right or wrong in what we wanted. But because we had not discussed our expectations prior to the holiday, it did lead to some tension.

Before you leave, discuss whether you want to eat out for meals or self-cater.

Sightseeing

I don’t know about you, but I hate waiting for people and the indecision holidaying as a group can bring. I know this sounds a bit banal, but set out expectations and wishes at the start of the holiday and plot out what days you plan to do what activity. Being inclusive and diplomatic can result in no decision being made and days wasted doing nothing.

Remember – holidaying together does not mean you are joined at the hip. If everyone wants to do something, do it together. But if you want to do something no-one else does, just go! If you don’t, you will probably regret it later.

Who looks after the kids?

The beauty of having lots of adults around is that there are lots of eyes to watch the kids. But just because there are lots of grown-ups around, does not always mean they are watching your children.

Even if you are off to the toilet for a minute or two, let others know so they can keep any eye on your children.

Offer to babysit each other’s children so you can all have ‘date nights’ with your partners, as well as afternoon ‘nanna naps’.

Different parents, different discipline

This is the hardest one to offer advice on. What do you do when you’ve told your children not to do something, but you are with a mum who does not seem to mind their own child doing the same?

Different parenting styles come to the fore on holiday – even little things like bed times. What do you do when your children go to bed at 8.30pm but others in your group go at 7.30pm? Do you make yours go early when the other mum is adamant hers will not go later?

Maybe this is where you really do have to grit your teeth, take a deep breath and chant the word ‘compromise’ over and over again. And remember all the GOOD things about holidaying together with extended family and friends, not just for you, but for your children.

Different parenting styles – including how to deal with misbehaving children – can create difficulties on family holidays.


  • Holidays with family are hard. You hit the nail on the head with trying to organise to go out, I found that really stressful.

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  • i would like to think that if i ever had an extended family holidays would be a joy with them!

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  • A great read but i will pass as i dont think my mind would get around it all

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  • I don’t think I’d cope lol. My Dad, step mother n two of my step sisters went camping, we went for the day. I spent the whole time protecting my 15 month old from being beaten up by his 3, 5, n 7 year old cousins. Pass

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  • we have been thinking of doing this for Xmas
    this now makes me rethink it..

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  • we are going overseas next year with my whole family which should be great we just go with the flow when we do these huge family vacations no stress and try and do as much as possible :)

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  • I have traveled interstate with my parents for a weeks holiday, and I had my 8 month old with me. It was fantastic and great to spend some quality time again with my precious parents. Then Me and my other half went on a road trip with my parents without our kids, it was for a funeral in another state-even though it was a tragic time being a funeral, I have to say I enjoyed the road trip emmensely.

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  • we did it & it was a nightmare, they sat down all day & we did all the meals. And they made no contribution towards to the food bills. It ended up being a very expensive holiday & miserable for us, yet they still rave about it.

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  • I am lucky enough to have fantastic in laws and we have been away with them many times. They seem to know when it’s good to be together and when we might need some time alone. And great babysitters too! If only my family were of the same mind…

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  • We often holiday as a family for a few days and we plan before what we are going to do and have space for free time and people say what they do / don’t want to do and then at the time it is easy as you are not waiting for people to decide, they are either coming on the tour or not and no one minds how much or little any one does and we take it in turns to look after the kids etc. works really well. good to have a villa/ apartment per family so you have a bit of space too if you want some quiet time or stay in one night!

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  • Thanks for this great article…we also prefer to travel alone………

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  • Been there, done that! It is always so much easier to travel separately!

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  • Never ever holidy with the family. Nightmare is all i can say.

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  • We travelled with my parents, that like caravanning, we …. Well don’t. We compromised by staying in a caravan park that had cabins, got sites close to each other, so we had out own space, but the kids could visit the grandparents when they wanted, and we could sit in comfort of our cabin with the kids in bed and have a relaxing drink with or without the grandparents. We were pretty open about what we wanted, and have an awareness that we ALL need some alone time.

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  • Wish I had listened to this advice before my husband’s family came to stay on holiday with us last month.

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