Can family vacations be fun?

Jul. 27, 2013 @ 04:43 PM

My skin care specialist asked me if vacations with extended family members can be enjoyable. She wanted to know if there are etiquette tips to follow to make this type of event run smoothly and benefit the well-being of all involved. Apparently, her relatives live in different cities and have a variety of lifestyles.

I asked her what everyone’s goal is for this vacation. It’s usually a good idea to think about what you would like to derive from your trip. Figure out how the vacation will enrich your life.

My friend Linda and I have planned a four-day trip for this coming August. She lives in Naples, Fla., as does her significant companion, who will accompany her. The overall goal for those two is to visit some places in my state worthy of their soon-to-be retirement.

The goal for Linda and me is to shop a few hours and attend a play one night. Fred just wants to have free time and hang out with Linda, and maybe me.

An extended family vacation would probably have a different goal in mind. Maybe a get-together so the young cousins can get to know one another, or for the grandparents to relish their grandchildren.

Sharing a vacation with blended family can be very rewarding and pleasurable. Here’s some suggested tips might help to make these emotions possible:

•Include entertainment venues for all ages on the trip. Remember, some children want to be close to movie theaters, malls or arcades. Men usually want one thing to do and women another.

•Plan the budget and financial responsibilities with all the involved parties. Have a clear understanding, so no surprises pop up.

•Arrange, design and decide on how you will take care of food and meals. Times and hours for dining should be stated. Younger children and older adults eat earlier the majority of the time.

•Divvy up chores for everyone if you are all staying in the same rental home or condo. No one wants the job of everyone’s housekeeper while on vacation.

•Don’t over-schedule activities, especially if children are along.

•Be flexible; it’s a vacation for fun.

•Acknowledge ages and accommodate their needs. For example, teenagers like a separate room if possible. In fact, assign rooms in advance if you can and have the transition to the vacation location run smoothly.

One Christmas, my extended family spent two weeks in Jamaica on the beach. Fortunately, we rented separate condos. All were connected. One of my nephews was only 2 years old. He turned out to be the best traveler.

My parents were master bossy planners, so food and shopping trips weren’t a problem. Babysitting chores for all the children were easy because we had so many adults and teenagers.

The only problem we had was when we had to leave and a few of my nephews and my children had to give up the slot machines and trying out unfiltered cigarettes. Oh well — they all survived.

Having discussions on important issues and plans before the trip begins should ease and avoid misunderstandings and conflicting expectations. Although some groups are easier to organize than others, at least you will know you tried.


Monroe resident Jeanne Howell teaches etiquette to business and private groups. Visit to learn more, and like “Jeanne Howell – An Etiquette Company” on Facebook. Send your etiquette questions to her at