The Agony and Ecstasy of Family Vacations

Amy Schuman
Amy Schuman

I’m just back from a long anticipated vacation in Israel with my husband and two of our adult children. It was wonderful in so many ways.  At the southern tip of the country, Eilat, we devoured fresh whole fish caught just that morning in the Gulf. In the northern part of the country, Karmiel, we grabbed falafel and schwarma from street vendors. We capped the trip with a visit to the red rocks of Petra in Jordan, guided by a Bedouin from a local tribe. No doubt, this vacation will live on as a high point in our family’s memories.

But, like all family trips, it wasn’t all roses. In between the fun and excitement, there was plenty of time for argument, dissatisfaction and frustration.  Travelling with young adults – ages 23 and 19 – required adjustments that my husband and I didn’t always make quickly enough. We often forgot about their maturity and sophistication, and treated them like 10 year olds. And, not surprisingly, there were times when they whined and pouted like children much younger than their years.

Here are some ideas that emerged along the way to make the whole experience more enjoyable for all:

 1. Spend time separately, doing what you most enjoy – the reunion and sharing over dinner is all the sweeter from the time and space apart.

2. Early risers can take an early morning exploration and breakfast, then bring back coffee and a roll to those who want to spend more time snuggled under the covers.

3. Requests from the kids:

                **You don’t have to explain everything to me every 5 minutes – I can see for myself what’s going on in front of my eyes.

                **Don’t ask me every 5 minutes what I want to do, or eat, or see – if I have a request I’ll tell you.

                ** Don’t plan every minute of every day – leave time to hang out, sit at the corner café, enjoy the city in its natural state

The most fun thing we found to do together turned out to be long, late night card games, euchre and rummy, full of laughter, teasing and friendly competition.

There are some great lessons here about helping families knit more closely together across the chasms of age and experience.  Don’t get too wound up by the tense and tough times – they are inevitable. Balance time together with time apart.  And, find time for simple laughter and fun together – say over a game of cards or checkers – that’s the best that family has to offer, wherever we may be on the globe.

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