Parental traps: How to survive a family vacation

After spending several months away from home during the school year, the prospect of living under the same roof as mom and dad for the summer can seem nightmarish to some. Add to that the promise of family vacations – where tensions often erupt and boredom can take hold – and you might be considering whether or not to opt out of that camping trip, cottage weekend, or European getaway and head back to Kingston.

While going on holiday with parents is a much different experience than that wild roadie you’ve been planning with your friends since first year, it doesn’t have to be unbearable. Here are a few dos and don’ts you can follow that will help ensure a fun, worthwhile vacation is had by all.

DO help plan the trip, but DON’T forget to include everyone

There’s no moment more opportune to assert your freedom than this. Let your parents know where you want to go, what activities you’d like to partake in, which sights you want to see – and let them do the same. Do you want to rent jet skis at the beach? That’s fine, but you should be prepared to spend a few hours of downtime reading lakeside with mom. Balancing the interests of everyone means that no one feels deprived of a vacation. It is everyone’s holiday, after all.

DO take advantage of a family budget, but DON’T break your parents’ bank

As a struggling university student, you know better than anyone that living comfortably comes at a price; the same goes for vacationing comfortably. Travelling with parents can mean the difference between eating canned beans cooked on a dingy camp stove and dining at a decent restaurant. While you’re there, don’t be afraid to order a dish that you might hesitate to shell out for on your own – but let your parents know how much you appreciate it. Demonstrating financial awareness will show them how much of an adult you’ve become.

DO bring a friend, but DON’T invite someone you wouldn’t room with

If you think you’ll get cabin fever staying with your parents, and you’re an only child or can only handle siblings in small doses, ask if your long-time best friend can tag along. Bringing a companion with similar interests can save you from going stir-crazy on down days and might even give your parents some peace of mind should you choose to part ways in the evening. Choose travelling buddies wisely, however. : Iif you’re not prepared to spend long amounts of time with someone, the stress of a holiday can put tension on your friendship, and there’s nothing worse than having a falling out with a close friend over a weeklong trip.

DO try to learn something from your parents, but DON’T be afraid to venture off on your own

Vacations are a favourable place for you and your parents to open up to one another. Whether it’s over sharing a fireside drink, casting a line into some open water, or hitting up the spa at your resort, your parents are bound to share an experience or show a side of themselves that you didn’t know existed. If you shudder at the thought of hearing about their wilder days, make an effort to learn something new from them – even if it’s just learning how to filet a fish or order brunch in a foreign language. You might be surprised at what you can pick up just by hanging out with mom or dad. On the other hand, don’t hesitate to ask for some time alone on your vacation. Your parents got where they are today through experience – it’s only fair that you get to do the same.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.