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Family Vacation Survival Guide

Family vacations over a break can be both a blessing and a curse.  If you’re spending your week of freedom on a family vacation this spring break, here are some survival tools and tips for coping with your family in close quarters.




It might seem obvious, but the number one thing on the tools list is a good pair of headphones for the following reason: versatility.  When you’re the only one in your family who doesn’t go to bed at 10 PM and you’re stuck in the same hotel room as your snoring sister, headphones can fix that.  Long car rides with your family where you just want to block out the chatter and have a nap? Headphones.  And best of all, you don’t necessarily need an Internet connection.  Even if you’re in the absolute wilderness, you can always plug your headphones into your iPod and have access to thousands of distractions/noise blockers. 


The next item on the list keeps up the theme of versatility.  Before you leave for your vacation, you can download as many books and magazines as it will take to keep you entertained through that long plane ride, or distracted while your family bickers about what to do today.  It’s easily portable, too, so you can just put it in your bag no matter where you go.  Plus, some e-books are cheaper than actual hard copies, so you can save money this way.


Having a camera with you can open your eyes to the best aspects of your situation, whether it’s the beauty of your surroundings or the memories you are creating with your family.  Also, if you take a picture of your brother when he’s getting irrationally angry over what restaurant you’re going to for dinner, you can embarrass him about it later.  As annoyed as you might get with your family in the moment, it’s always fun to have the memories to look back on later, and a camera is the perfect way to capture that.  Even better, an instant camera can add a fun touch to your photos. 



Get involved in planning

If you can, helping your family to plan your getaway can help you to get excited, and can give you a better chance of doing things you enjoy while you’re away.  Being involved in the planning can give you more of a say in what you do, rather than having to ask everyone else to change their already-made plans to fit what you would rather do.  This tactic also helps eliminate fights and bickering on the actual vacation, so you have more time to actually enjoy it.

Make friends

One thing that can make family vacations rough is being with the same few people for an extended period of time.  You can try to offset that by making new friends.  If you’re at the pool, go chat with the cute boy/girl who’s sitting at the edge of the water, dangling their feet in.  If you’re at the ski lodge, go strike up a conversation with the people sitting by the fireplace.  It can feel weird, but the upside is that even if it is awkward, you’ll probably never see those people again in your life. 

Make traditions

It’s become a tradition in my family for my three younger siblings to play a game where we explore our surroundings.  The catch to the game, though, is that we each have an alternate identity we take on just for these situations.  The tradition started when we were much younger, our ages ranging from twelve to four, but it’s still going strong today, and to this day it’s one of the most fun things me and my often-annoying siblings do together.  Traditions like this one, even if they’re not as silly as my game, can end up being some of the most memorable parts of vacations, and help you form closer bonds with your family members.

Ella is a sophomore at Skidmore College in upstate New York, where she is studying religion.  Outside of school, she lives just south of Boston, Massachusetts, with her parents, three younger siblings, and four small dogs, which gets pretty crazy.  She loves music, fashion, and food, and wants to travel the world someday.  
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