How To Survive Traveling With Your Family

by Brianna Krueger /
Brianna Krueger's picture
Aug 22, 2012 / 0 comments

Family vacations are great... when you're getting along. I'm a realist, so I'm going to put forth the fact that all families are a little (to sometimes extremely) dysfunctional. My family is no different, and sometimes I would love nothing more than to vacation away from my family while we're on route to our vacation destination, because otherwise I might just lose it. 

Let's face it, we can all be annoying, especially in cramped spaces. (I'm looking at you, cars and airplanes!!) Being so close together with no escape can cause tension to boil over things that wouldn't ordinarily bother us.

Here are some tips on how to survive traveling to your family vacation


Don't lose the car keys! Seems simple, but nothing's worse than possibly ending your vacation before it’s started because the keys have gone M-I-A. Keep them in a place where everyone knows where they are, and won't be mispacked among someone's luggage. (Or placed into your mom's purse that happens to be the only place she doesn't look...)

road trip


Headphones. Own your own. There's a reason Ipods and mp3 players were created. So we don't have to listen to other people's music! Having your own headphones means you can choose your own music (sorry, all my dad's rock music, you're not always my cup of tea), and tune people out (can't hear them? No problem!).

Bring snacks. Whether you're trapped on an airplane with very limited food choices (typically only $5 Pringles or Oreos) or stuck in a car with fast food as the only option, it's always good to have snacks on you. Hunger strikes, and is usually a quick trigger for unpleasantness when you can't get food right away, so have a few things to help tide you over till you can get a real meal.

Don't drink much. Nothing is more annoying than having to make multiple pit stops for one person at a time, or climb over two people to get to the cramped bathroom. Although it is important to stay hydrated, multiple pit stops can take up a lot of time. Drinking less (especially coffee as it passes through the body quickly) will mean less stops which means the quicker you can get out of that car and stretch your legs (and get away from your family).

Be agreeable. As annoying as bathroom stops are, having to make multiple food stops for everyone's taste buds is just as annoying. By all agreeing (not arguing) for one restaurant will save time and make everyone happy. If you can't agree, decide that the other person will get to choose next time.

If traveling in two cars (because it's your dad who overpacks with toys for the beach) have your cell phone on volume and vibrate. There will be reasons to 
communicate, such as agreeing to all stop and fuel up or grab a bite, or if the straps holding the kayaks on top are coming undone - nothing would be worse than the kayaks shooting off the roof and onto the highway at 70 MPH, especially when you’re the car behind it. So have that cell ready just in case.

Pack light. No one, including your dad, mom, and brother, wants to carry your 50 pound carry-on luggage from Chicago O'Hare terminal 1 to terminal 5, because you couldn't condense all your important electronics. Nor do your parents feel like paying a weight fee because your luggage was hefty, too. Pack light to save room - how else are you going to get your souvenirs home?

pack light


On the other side of packing light, have a carry-on, even in the car, filled with things to keep you occupied - for the duration of travel (not the next 30 years). It can seem hard to condense, but pack essentials: Ipod & headphones, a book or a magazine, your cellphone (on air mode if in the air), a notebook & pen, or some type of puzzle. Simple things to keep you occupied in case of layover, a fallen kayak, or just because you're bored. 

Most importantly, remember you love them. Annoying as we can all be, family is family and you still love them. After all, it's probably mom and dad paying for everything, so you may want to treat them right!



Brianna Krueger is the Editor for the Wandering Educators Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program.