We got a great question from one of our readers, and I’m sure it’s one everyone can relate to. Check it out below along with our response. Of course, we’d love to hear your take on it in the comments as well!
Hi Cat and Natalie!
I have a traveling question for you that I hope you can help me with. Here it goes: Every time I go on vacation, I seem to need a vacation from my vacation. My husband and I argue and my kids act out. I spend a lot of time and money planning our vacations, and it seems like there’s always one outburst leaving me to yell that we’re never going on vacation again. I don’t want it to be like this. Do you have any tips to avoid arguing on vacation?
Yeah… I know what you mean. The good news is that you’re not alone. I don’t think anyone’s gone on a vacation, let alone a family vacation, and come back saying that everything went perfectly. However, I’ve been fortunate to travel to a dozen different countries and so I feel experienced enough to give you some good tips! Here’s what I do:
1. Choose a Leader
When traveling, having too many cooks in the kitchen can cause arguing. My husband has an awesome sense of direction, he’s big, he thinks quickly, and he has a lot of experience traveling. For these reasons, I just let him lead the way. It’s a nice change for me too since I feel like I run our household and have to make a lot of decisions without him. So, when we travel, he gets to be the big man on campus and handle issues as they come up. This prevents us arguing and me telling him to go this way or that way, etc.
2. Schedule in Down Time
When we spend a lot of money on vacation, we tend to jam pack in the experiences. If you travel internationally, this is especially true. Why stay in your hotel room in Paris when you could be seeing the city? Well, the answer is that you need some downtime. Vacations are for relaxing, learning, and exploring. Spend the extra money to have a day of lounging. The more tired and more stressed you are, the more likely you are to argue.
3. Let Kids Take Part in the Planning
Lots of kids get annoyed on vacation when they have to do everything their parents say. Cut down on arguments by letting them be a part of the process. Let each of your kids plan a day or pick a restaurant ahead of time. Make a big deal out of it by saying this was a great choice! Thanks for doing your research! We had a great day because of you. The more important and involved they feel, the less likely they are to act out.
Those are my top tips. Now it’s time for our readers to weigh in as well. Good luck, Angie! I hope it helps!
Natalie @ Financegirl says
The psychology-minded part of me wonders if either of them went on vacations growing up where their parents argued? Usually we repeat what we’re used to seeing. But the first step to changing that is being aware of it. Then you have to understand why and commit to changing it. These are great tips to help with the latter part.
GREAT advice!! I feel like I’m one of the lucky ones – my husband and I never argue on vacation (unless we’re in Vegas and alcohol is involved haha). We follow your first tip – he’s totally the leader and I love it! I’m like you – I sorta “run” the household so vacationing is a nice change of pace for me. Plus, he’s great at finding awesome spots, picking good restaurants, etc. I’m just happy to be with him and the kids so I try to just relax and enjoy the time away!
Downtime is a must! I know whenever I try to schedule in too many things to see and do, we all get a little cranky and tired.
Erin @ Journey to Saving says
I do have a habit of wanting to see everything, and leaving next to no time in our itinerary to just relax. While I haven’t been on vacation in a while, I think I’m going to choose whether or not I want to emphasize sight-seeing, or relaxing. Hopefully that focus will allow for a better balance. Our biggest arguments usually come from getting there, as the GPS always manages to get us lost (not our faults, of course).
Shannon @ Financially Blonde says
I think you have to do LOTS of pre-vacation planning before you go on vacation. We usually start talking to my son about a trip and our expectations for his behavior weeks before we leave. We talk about how he should act in the airport (i.e. stick with us avoid strangers), we talk about gift buying (i.e. he can bring his own money and we have a small budget for him). The more we discuss beforehand, the less problems we have on the back end.
Vacationing with children can definitely be stressful! I agree with your tips. Some downtime is definitely required for little ones, and can make adults happier and less stressed too.
Mrs. Frugalwoods says
Good point about designating a “leader.” We go back and forth on planning and not planning our trips out in advance. We’re always very scrupulous in planning out our flights and hotels (for deals!), but we’ve been known to land in a foreign country with no real agenda, which means we usually need a daily leader for planning. We’ll alternate the job, which works well and ensures that we both get to see what we’re most interested in.