Holidays with family can be stressful. This is especially true if you're travelling with those who knew you as a kid and still expect the dynamic to be the same. Here are some steps you can take to establish yourself as an adult and survive the family trip.
Get Involved In The Planning Process
Dive into the planning of the holiday. The more input you have into the trip, the more ownership you'll feel. This will help you make sure the holiday has activities that you want to participate in and it also relieves the pressure from one person.
You can also apply this to others and try to get them involved in the planning process. Ask other relatives close to your age what they want to do on the trip so that everyone's interests are represented (and so hopefully everyone will be happy). Remember, everyone doesn't need to do everything together. Plan some activities for smaller groups or on your own to give people a chance to recharge and connect with one another on a deeper level.
There is a lot that goes into planning a family holiday and you can show that you're part of the "grown-ups" by taking responsibility in a couple of ways.
- Monetary responsibility: Offer to help cover the cost of the trip, including transportation, meals and accommodation.
- Responsibility for your behaviour: Besides acting like an adult, you should be self-aware and monitor your mood and mindset. If you need a break from the group, take it — there's no shame in that.
- Be prepared for the trip: Know what supplies you'll need for the trip and make sure to bring them. This can be anything from the right clothing to items everyone will be using. (If you aren't sure, ask the others!)
Beyond these areas, be responsible for the atmosphere during the time everyone is spending together. One way you can do this is by steering the conversation to interesting and conflict free topics — which will vary depending on your family. Marie Hartwell-Walker, writing on Psych Central, suggests playing The Conversation Game. Essentially, you prepare a stack of cards with questions on them and pass the stack around the table. Everyone who wants to answers the question, then the stack moves on to the next person. This spreads out the conversation starter to include everyone, not just you. You don't really need a deck of cards to use this method — the main takeaway is to come prepared with some questions to jump start the conversation and go beyond the baseline topics of work, the weather and news events.
Adjust Your Expectations
Make sure that your expectations match reality. Chances are that there's someone in your family who is younger than you. Treat them like an adult, too (just as you're trying to get others to do for you). AARP has some great advice on this:
Be realistic. Plan what you would like to happen and then lower your expectations. "Think of it like packing a suitcase for a trip and then just before you leave taking out half the clothes," she says.
As challenging as it can be, realise that members of your family who are difficult, are probably still difficult. Adjusting your own expectations will make a big impact.
Embrace Being An Adult
Enjoy the things that come along with moving past "kid" status in your family. This doesn't just mean being able to grab a drink with your cousin. Have deeper conversations with your family members, no matter what generation they belong to. You likely have many more things in common with your relatives now that you've both experienced more similar life events — like becoming a parent or developing your career.
Follow Up Properly
Remember your etiquette and impress your relatives. Send a note thanking the host or whoever did the majority of the organising, check to make sure no one needs to be paid back for trip costs, or if you borrowed something from someone make sure they get it back. Overall just be gracious, this will drive home the image that you're an adult and should be treated like one. This will really pave the way for future family events.
Whether you're going on a trip with your immediate family or heading to a big family reunion, you can use the above information to own your role as an adult and make the experience better for yourself and others.