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7 Tips for a stress-free vacation, especially if you’re with a group

FAMILY
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A little bit of order, moderation, and good will go a long way.

You, your spouse, and your kids have had to deal with long hours of travel to reach your planned destination. After days of preparation, you’re as tired as you can be, but you still have to deal with your kids’ tiredness and bickering, as well as, perhaps, your spouse’s bad mood.

Once you reach your vacation spot, it’s time to relax. But often, that moment of tranquility only lasts a few hours, especially if you’re on vacation with other family members or friends. Yes, spending time together as a group is great, but not always easy! For everything to go well during your days off, you have to be attentive to some details that can help you avoid imminent conflict.

For example, let’s say your own children are never allowed to spend the morning playing video games or watching movies or TV series, but for their cousins, who are with you on vacation, this is standard vacation fare. What should you and your spouse do about it?

There can be many sources of disagreements, especially if you’re sharing lodgings. There are a lot of logistical details to be taken care of, such as a fair arrangement so that group meals are prepared on time and the dishes are washed.

Here’s a list of some simple steps you can take to help prevent or resolve common vacation problems and ensure your vacation is not ruined by conflict.

1
PLAN MEALS WELL

Anyone with a food allergy or some other dietary restriction knows how difficult it can be to eat away from home. Even if that’s not your particular case, it’s important — especially for children and adolescents — for good meals to be provided on time during vacation, so as to keep kids (or adults) from overindulging in junk food such as potato chips, candy, and ice cream between meals.

If you’ve chosen to spend time away from home for vacation, be sure that someone in the group is in charge of organizing meal preparation, or at the very least, of looking up restaurants and takeout options for the group.

2
DON’T LET THE SCHEDULE GET OUT OF CONTROL

Just as it’s important to keep a regular schedule for meals, it’s also important to be sure your children are aware that certain basic rules, such as bedtime, regular bathing, and not leaving things spread all over the place, are still in effect away from home. During vacation, you and your spouse can be more flexible, but don’t let your little ones take control of your daily schedule.

3
BE UNDERSTANDING

Every family has its own internal rules and dynamics. This means that you need to be understanding if you see that the people you’re on vacation with have different criteria for behaviors and attitudes than what you require at home.

Since this is the case, don’t comment about things that don’t affect you, and try not to criticize things that you don’t approve of, and communicate clearly. If that understanding isn’t reciprocated, be patient, keep your distance from whoever is creating conflict, and try to leave that negative experience in the past.

4
BE CAREFUL WITH THE CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOL

Beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages are often part of vacation, and because everyone is feeling more relaxed, they might end up drinking more than they usually would. If you and your spouse appreciate a good wine or a nice cold beer, be sure to drink in moderation.

If there’s someone in the group who tends to go overboard, keep offering snacks and water, because the effects of alcohol are stronger when someone has an empty stomach or is dehydrated. Moderation will make everyone’s life easier, and will help you enjoy all your vacation time more.

5
KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR KIDS

Don’t let your guard down when it comes to the appropriate behavior and the safety of your kids. Children and adolescents are explorers by nature: they love challenges, and they love to make discoveries, but that adventurous spirit can put them in risky situations.

The dangers are even greater in places like the beach or the countryside, so try to organize group activities everyone can participate in. Keep an eye on your kids, and don’t let them get too far from you (taking into account their age, maturity, and appopriate level of independence).

6
AVOID GOSSIP LIKE THE PLAGUE

There’s nothing more unpleasant than knowing that people have been saying negative things about you in your absence. However, when families and friends get together, it’s common that the topic of conversation be someone everyone knows but who isn’t present.

Do your best to abstain from gossiping or participating in any conversations of that sort. Remember that anything you say can be interpreted the wrong way, and can get back to the person you’re talking about in a negative light.

7
DON’T FORGET TO GO TO MASS

Just because you’re far from your home parish doesn’t mean you should miss Mass, which brings grace and peace to your heart. Did you know that many hotels have a small chapel, or even a time and place set aside for Sunday Mass?

If that’s not the case where you and your family are staying, take advantage of vacation to visit new parishes, hear homilies from different priests, and discover the small differences that can appear in the liturgy, such as a different repertory of songs or the use of different options during Mass, for instance, the penitential rite or the Eucharistic prayer. It can be a very enjoyable and enriching experience, especially if you’re visiting another country.

In short, our vacations can be much more enjoyable if we keep at least a minimum of structure and order in our daily life, and do our best to be patient, respectful, and loving towards others. The effort needed to exercise these virtues will pay off in dividends of relaxation and enjoyment of each other’s presence and of the vacation venue, so we can all return refreshed and re-energized to work and school.

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