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Dr. Deanna Brann's Blog

Summer is here already! It is amazing how quickly summer has crept up on us. And with summer comes vacations. I know that some of you actually vacation with family, whether that is your family of origin or your in-laws. Either way vacationing with family can be challenging. I did a blog post a while back on traveling with family and included several tips to make this experience memorable, not miserable. For example, I talked about:

  • Don’t take things personally
  • Be a team player
  • Find the humor
  • Find some “down time” for yourself
  • Establish ground rules in advance

These are still things I recommend to make your vacation work for you – and for everyone around you. There are, however, other things you can do to make your vacation more fun and stress free. Why is it important to think ahead before getting in the car and heading out for this week long vacation that you’ve waited for all year? If you don’t plan ahead as well as anticipate how the week might go or how you want it to go, you are less likely to have that wonderful vacation you not only want, but also deserve.

Added Tips for Vacation Fun

Planning ahead does not mean you have to micromanage your trip as much as it is a way to address – in advance – the issues or concerns that you either know will come up or think could come up with different family members. By anticipating and planning you can avoid a messy situation as well as tension between you and one of your family members, which as you know, then creates drama for everyone else in the family and makes the vacation take a sudden turn for the worse. Anticipating and planning also allows you to act thoughtfully, not impulsively. When we are impulsive or reactionary in our approach we often create more problems than solutions. Here are some additional tips to help you enjoy that much anticipated vacation:

  • Know who you will be dealing with on your vacation – What are the different personality types of the people on vacation with you? If you know with whom you are dealing it will make it easier for you to anticipate how they will act and what issues may come up. You can then prepare responses or reactions in advance so that you are less likely caught off guard. Also, by knowing the other personality types of your traveling companions you have a good idea about who likes what kinds of activities. If you know you and your spouse are the only ones who like to go antiquing while you vacation or to do physical activities, sit and read all day, and so on, then you can plan in advance to put these activities in your schedule. You can also make sure you let everyone know that these are things you plan to do so that they are not caught off guard or put off by your desires.
  • Make sure you have your own space – Creating the opportunity to have your own room or space for down time, whether for sleeping, reading, napping, etc. gives you a place to go when you need to decompress and/or re-energize.
  • Share your intentions with everyone – Open communication is critical to getting along with others and having no (or fewer) misunderstandings. If you have something you want to do, make sure you let the others know ahead of time. If, for example, you don’t plan to have dinner with the group, share with them that you and your spouse (or kids) have planned to have dinner at a specific place together. By not sharing with your family, you leave them to fill in the blanks themselves. And when people do this, they usually fill it in with their own concerns, issues, or biases. And believe me, this always creates family friction. You will make it easier for everyone – especially yourself – when you share your intentions. No guessing game; no filling in the blanks; no hidden agendas.

Being considerate of your family members as well as thinking about your own needs will make your time together enjoyable and easy. And isn’t that what vacations are all about?

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