Miscommunication: The Joy of the Family Vacation

Brianna Krueger's picture

When 15 people come together for a vacation, you expect a little bit of miscommunication. But when you divide those 15 people into 4 related families, you expect a decent amount of communication. After all, 4 of those people are brothers and sisters. It should go something like: tell each of those brothers and sisters what's going down and then they should communicate it to all the members of their family - and everything should be hunky dory.


Miscommunication: The Joy of the Family Vacation


Unfortunately, dory wasn't feeling so hunky during my latest (holiday) vacation, because I spent the vast majority of my trip scratching my head, wondering 'what’s going on?!' Perhaps it's my normally blonde hair, but I was so dang confused about everything.


Never mind the fact we'd all been e-mailed a tentative schedule of events for the 3 days we'd be together, things still weren't all in place. Take those 4 families and have them stay at 4 different places across a city that most aren't familiar with, add some holiday booze, rambunctious talking over each other, and a preference for texting when calling is easier, and you're bound to have some confusing moments.


Scheduling Snafus

One of the biggest misconceptions seemed to be arrival time even though the time was listed on said e-mail. 11AM meet at hostesses’. 2PM movie. 6PM dinner. Simple and to the point. Yet some people in my family must not know how to tell time, because we always had to ask, multiple times, 'where is so-and-so?' and 'what's taking so-and-so so long?' before we could get going to our scheduled event.

The scheduling snafus were never-ending. Starting with the tentative movie on our schedule. We were given a select three choices of movies to not go see prior to our holiday. So what did my extended family do? All went and saw at least one of the movies, except my perfect family who opted to see a what-we-thought-would-be-funny-snoozer, not on the list, to be considerate. And then what happened? Because everyone can't tell time, we didn't even see a movie. Thanks, guys, because I would have preferred just about any movie other than the one we saw.

However, even together, all gathered under one roof, things still seemed to get confusing. Not to say my family sucks at communication, which is sometimes partially true, but we do communicate on other levels - just not always plan related.



There was one point on our trip that we decided to go to a free zoo and a museum, so we piled into our cars and played follow the leader in 4 different cars. The thing is, stop lights don't care that we don't know the area and will conveniently turn red before you can cross the intersection and lose track of the cars in front of you.... And the cars in front don't notice so they drive further and further away. One could have used their fancy phone to google the directions (let alone the address), or one could have called the cars ahead to say 'yo wait up' (or you'd have the brianiac who says ‘I’ll text them we're behind' and then take a few more red lights to text it out) but it still didn't make car communication any easier.

As a passenger in the caboose car, I wanted to strangle the headlights off the rest of my family's cars because I really did not want to get lost. I wanted to go to the museum. But not everyone in my car was so desperate because a huffing voice proclaimed 'if I lose them I'm turning this car back around to the hotel!' (As if we knew how to get back?)

Luckily, we were able to keep up with the family and eventually express our condolences that it seemed like our family was ditching us.

Wait... on second thought, that wasn't completely a terrible idea. I mean, sometimes I want to lose my family, too...


Miscommunication: The Joy of the Family Vacation


On the way back, we managed to communicate like we had direct speakers in each other's car, or even each other's minds. When we, still the caboose, got stuck at a red light, the three cars ahead of us managed to all pull over to the side of the road and wait for us. We contemplated passing everyone when our light turned green for giggles, but they were so into us following them that they managed to pull out at the perfect timing. We honestly deserved applause for how in tune we were.


Miscommunication: The Joy of the Family Vacation


Just Add Alcohol?

Thankfully my family all speaks the language of alcohol and made up for some of these problems that way.

Except alcohol logically makes everything not coherent. My family proved this true before we even made it to the first bar of the evening. After a celebration dinner of Christmas, family, and my cousin's 21st birthday, we took off in a brisk walk to bar number 1 on a road called State Street. For those unfamiliar with State Street, it's a road leading to Madison's capitol building filled with shops and bars.

Somewhere during that walk, while half of us made it to the first bar, we lost the other half. Why? Because they decided to go shopping. By the time they made it to the bar, we were ready for bar number 2, where we embraced confusion like an old friend. We had to order a drink at bar number 2 and get a special receipt that would serve as our cover charge into bar #3. Most of us couldn't comprehend how this worked. Did we each need to order separately to each have a receipt or would one work for all? Or how much is the cover because that might just be easier?

Of course the people who understood how it all worked got their drinks and disappeared to the comfort of a booth while the bartender explained it about 5 different times to us. Eventually we managed it, and without yelling. Which kind of surprised me, because yelling is pretty common in times of confusion.

Instead, we saved the yelling for when we were privately with our families. Like 'shut the eff up and go back to bed' (didn’t shut up), or 'call my brother instead of texting to let him know we're here' (still texted), or 'what number is her apartment. I can't figure it out!' (even reread the e-mail), or 'ohmigod. Can we please do something. I'm effing bored’ (we didn’t get anywhere for a while).


Miscommunication: The Joy of the Family Vacation


All in all…

Miscommunications aside, it turned out to be a great trip. From what sense I can make of it. Somehow through the complaining, waiting, and confusion, we managed to have a great time (as we always do).

It's so easy to write about the negative side of things, to complain (hehe), and to make fun of the bad, that we often forget to mention the good that came from it, even when the good outweighs the bad. Although in terms of stories, bad sometimes takes the cake, but it's still nice to recognize the good. Being able to recognize that takes a glass from half-empty, to half-full.


Sunsets, Madison, Wisconsin





Brianna Krueger is the Chief Editor for Wandering Educators


All photos courtesy and copyright Brianna Krueger