family vacation grown-up
Credit: Getty Images - Anna Buckley/HelloGiggles

It’s official: you’re a grown-up. You have a job, you pay your taxes on time, and you think music can be really loud sometimes. You might have (unfairly) outgrown certain things from childhood, like recess and summer camp, but going on vacation with your fam one of them. Taking a family vacation as an adult isn’t the same as it was when you were a kid; it’s not better or worse. It’s just…different. If you’re gearing up for a family vacation this summer as a grown-up, we have some tips for how to survive it.

With families more spread out than ever, taking a family vacation as a grown-up makes sense. It’s a time to connect, catch up, and create meaningful memories.

But it can also be a time to lose your damn mind. After all, this is your family we’re talking about. The brother who knows how to push your buttons, the parent who just “wants what’s best for you,” the aunt who refuses to ask for help — including directions. You’re about to sandwich yourself between them in the back of a car (or on an airplane) for hours and hours, all the while having to share each meal with them for days on end — a feat you might not have endured for a number of years. Thanksgiving weekend has nothing on a full-on family vacay.

You’re an adult now, though, so you can definitely handle this. And thanks to this trusty guide, you’ll not only handle it but survive it like a champ.

Plan ahead

Even if you like to travel by the seat of your pants, chances are your parents don’t. Which means they’ll start telling you what’s what unless you participate right from the get-go. Get involved with the planning as much as possible, including the what, where, and when, and try to establish a general itinerary for each day. Not only will you feel a part of the trip — and not just a kid hitching a ride — but being prepared will help you and your parents (and potential siblings) feel more secure about the trip.

Remember: You’re an adult

Meaning, if you know your dad is driving in the wrong direction, speak up. Your family dynamic might fall into old patterns, but that doesn’t mean you have to relinquish your adult independence. This also goes for putting in your two cents about what the day’s agenda should look — i.e. what you would like to see and do — and for lending a hand when needed, rather than reverting to your pre-adolescent self and letting mom and dad “deal with it.”

Remembering you’re an adult can also be really fun and special. Now you can split a bottle of wine with your folks and talk about life and hot topics like you’re a peer and a friend. You also don’t have to get embarrassed when your mom shimmies on the dance floor and does her mom dance — you can join her and let loose! Also, don’t let your parents pay for everything. You make money — chip in.

Carve out some “me time”

After spending all night and day with your family, trust us, you will need a breather. Make sure to carve out a little “me time” every day. Whether it’s taking a little extra time in the bathroom to do your hair and makeup, going for a short walk after dinner, reading a book in a quiet corner, or hitting the gym, taking the time to recharge your batteries is essential.

Be flexible

Compromising and being flexible are necessary for any vacation, especially one with your folks. If there’s an art exhibit you’d like to see, but you know your dad is going to complain all the way through, try to find something enjoyable for your parents to do at the same time so you can both do something you like.

Also, your older parents probably head to bed a lot earlier than you do. Let them do their thing and don’t bum out over it. Find out what you can do instead of turning in early. Maybe hit up the hotel bar for a nightcap, or go to a movie. Even catch up with a friend in the lobby. Let them do them, and you do you.

Be present

You’re making memories with your family, which means you’ll want to remember this trip for a lifetime. So put your phone on airplane mode and only use it when you’re snapping a photo. Talk and engage with your family. Laugh. If you had a tiff earlier that morning, shrug it off and get back into the moment. No matter what, you don’t want to waste a moment of this special experience you’re sharing together.

Because if you can survive a weeklong family vacay with the folks, then Christmas will certainly be a breeze.