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How to survive a holiday with your parents

10 tips on how to enjoy a family holiday without it becoming a nightmare!

You vowed you’d never do it again. But then they booked that all-inclusive trip to the Bahamas and before you knew it you were on a 14-hour flight with your parents for two weeks of family fun, feuding and frustration.

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Holidaying with your parents, especially as an adult or once you’ve flown the nest, is never the same as those childhood trips. Sunnydays at the seaside, or rainy weekends in a caravan in Bognor; we may look back on family holidays gone by with fond memories, but the reality post-puberty can be very different. Nevertheless, trips with mummy and daddy dearest needn’t be a nightmare. Check out these 10 family holiday survival tips:

1. Make thoughtful gestures

Let them know that you appreciate the invitation to join them on holiday. After all, it may turn out a disaster, but their hearts are in the right place. If they’re picking up the tab then all the more reason to do a few good turns. Stick your hand in your pocket and pay for dinner, or buy your mum a coffee after you’ve spent a morning souvenir shopping. But some of the best ways to be polite are totally free, like sharing driving duties or offering to carry their luggage up to the hotel room – whilst at the same time desperately scanning the hotel lobby for a fully functioning lift.

2. Make your own schedule

You’ll probably have a different routine from your parents, the result of no longer living under the same roof. If you go to bed late, or trade the morning breakfast buffet for a late night salsa dancing session, make sure they realise this and that you won’t be needing an 8am alarm call. Similarly, if they want to go to bed before sundown or eat an early dinner, accept this but just make sure you have your own plans and stick to them. By setting realistic expectations on your individual schedules neither party will miss out on what they want to do or feel like they’re waiting around for the other.

Happy family mountain climbing, backpacking.

3. Argue. Apologise. Move on.

Accept that you’re probably going to have one or two travel tiffs, and when they happen you won’t be able to run back to your own home and avoid each other until the dust settles. So the easiest way is to give up the high ground, apologise and move on as swiftly as possible. You may end up taking the blame unnecessarily, but this way you won’t have to endure the silent treatment and both sides can still enjoy their holiday.

4. Be grateful

A family holiday could mean that instead of battling for beach towel space on the crowded sands of some Spanish Costa, you’re sunning yourself in South America. With years of experience, and no children to consider, parents sometimes have better taste and more holiday spends to splash out on far-flung getaways; so be grateful that you’ve been brought along for the ride! Plus, they spent years in family-friendly resorts making sure you were entertained, when all they may have wanted to do was read a book in peace or sip cocktails in the sunshine. Remember this sacrifice and show your gratitude by letting them have some fun in the sun.

5. Accept that they are lightweights

Training done during student days, or simply spending more Friday nights down the pub than your folks, means that you probably drink more than them. This is of course a sweeping statement, but when they’re ready to hit the hay after a few sherries and you’re just getting ready to hit the clubs, remember it’s important for holiday survival that you have your own agenda (see point 2) and respect that of each other. They were young once and should understand this, and you never know, they may even give you a run for your money in propping up the bar.

Older people partying, dancing, in fancy dress.

6. Let them loose on the dancefloor

This is their time to let their hair down, after doing such an incredible job raising you! As a teenager (and maybe still now) you may have been embarrassed by their dance moves or rather have been seen dead than in a karaoke bar while dad belts out a Sinatra number, but this is their holiday too. They’ve saved for the trip and whilst you live it up every weekend, this is be their once in a blue moon chance to really be young at heart again. So suck it up, let them have some fun, and remember point 5, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel…

7. Research everything

This is usually sage advice when holidaying with anyone, but when it comes to jetting off with your parents, research is key. From finding out how to get from the airport to the hotel, to swotting up on local point of interest or famous restaurants that are close by; knowing a little about your destination will help avoid any clashes over travel arrangements or frustrations about missing out on some must-see spots.

Check out our travel podcast: How to survive a family holiday

8. Bring a phone charger

Not only for panicked calls to friends, partners, work colleagues – basically anyone who isn’t a family member within a one-mile radius – when things get tense, a phone charger is the key to music, videos and WiFi access on the move. Keep your phone fully charged and switch off by listening to your favourite album or watching cute cats do tricks on YouTube. When you’re done, hopefully situations will have been diffused and you can all carry on with your jolly holiday. Keeping a phone camera handy is also a great idea for capturing any unintentionally hilarious moments (see point 6) to torture them with for the rest of the trip.

Old public phone box.

9. Book separate rooms

For most of the reasons already explained, you do not want to be on a camp bed in the corner of your parents’ hotel room. To get the most out of the trip you must be able to come and go as you please, so you can stagger in at 6am, or get up before dawn for a yoga session on the beach without disturbing mum and dad’s beauty sleep and getting the holiday off on a bad foot every morning.

10. Pack a sense of humour

Sometimes, laughter really is the best cure and you’ll just have to smile and shrug it off. Keep things light and help dad see the brighter side of his hilarious bald-patch sunburn, or mum’s poolside swimsuit faux-pas. A kind smile can banish any bad feelings and a giggle will keep holiday spirits high.

Read on for more holiday survival tips:

10 tips for surviving a group holiday

10 tips for holidays with teenagers

10 tips for flying with kids – the secret of travelling with toddlers

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