How to survive a family trip

We’ve all been there, tightly squeezed into a packed car that’s overflowing with suitcases, snacks, siblings, and shedding dogs. Here are some tips on how to survive the infamous family summer vacation.


Sanna Lexhed

A family, loaded up with suitcases, are ready to head off on their family road trip.

Sanna Lexhed, Associate Editor

Ah, the end of the year, what a stressful, yet hopeful time. APs and regular exams are approaching, but you know what else is? Summertime. Woohoo! Summer is the ultimate reward for a student’s year-long process of late-night studying, daily attendance, and the constant struggle of trying to convince themselves that this isn’t all for nothing.

As we trudge through the year, Summer stays in the back of our minds as a motivator through it all. Summertime is a fun, stress-free 11 weeks of freedom where students become teenagers again and get to stay up late, hang out with friends, go to the beach, and… oh right… go on the (dreaded) family vacation trips.

Those trips, despite their unfavorable reputation, seem to sneak their way into every kid’s summer vaca. Family trips aren’t— how do I put this— easy, but, as I said they’re bound to happen. Fortunately for you, I’ve come up with some helpful tips on how to survive them.

1. Packing
One pitfall of family journeys seems to start even before the actual vacation takes place. This starts with packing. As you fill your bag with your favorite shirts and most fashionable pants, your mom always seems to always try to sneak a few extra, unwanted, items.

I remember this happening as I prepared for my Spring Break trip to Colorado. As I gathered all of my necessary items, my mom appeared at my door insisting I needed to lug with me about seven scarves, two extra pairs of ski pants, and one more hat.

I told her, “Mamma, as much as I appreciate you trying to help, I do not see the crucial need to bring SEVEN scarves with me.” She did not see my point.

Your parents always seem to know best what YOU will be wearing on trips. This typically results in embarrassing outfits that you’ll be rocking with no confidence on your trip. The solution you ask? Here’s a two-step process that will guarantee a victory.

Show your appreciation. Arguing against your mom as she commands you to stow away seven extra sets of outfits that will protect you from any sort of weather (including rain, shine, hurricanes, sinkholes, and anything in between) won’t get you anywhere. Instead, thank her for her thoughtfulness.

Now that you have gained her trust, break it. But do so in secret. Leave the extra items in your suitcase until the night before. Then, hide it all under your bed. Boom! All the embarrassing fits are gone, and you get to dress in style on your vacation.

2. Driving
You’re now on the road, your suitcase is filled with only the clothes you want, you’re feeling good, but a terrible realization sets in: You have to use the restroom.

Your parents are already on edge because of traffic and asking them to do a pitstop is the last thing you want to do. You think back to when your dad shouted out, “Make sure you go to the bathroom before we leave!” and regret all of your life choices.

So what do you do?

Well, you have two options. Option 1: Go to sleep, wait it out, and don’t get in trouble. This one, while hard to accomplish, will benefit you in the long run as your parents won’t scream and your siblings won’t get annoyed for delaying the trip.

Option 2 is to bite the bullet and ask. This is a risky one, and you have to muster up the willpower and strength to commit to it. Before you proceed on with option #2, you need to do some analysis. Think back to the skills you’ve learned in AP Lang and ask yourself, “What would Mr. Johnson say.”

Well, he would tell you to make a rhetorical triangle of course. So, this is what you shall do. Figure out your purpose, your tone, your audience, and everything else in between.

With this done, it’s time to do the dreaded deed: Ask.

Maintain an apologetic yet hopeful tone, with strong diction and sentence structure to aid your potential for success.
The ask could go something like this: “Hey, mom and dad. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate all of the planning and organization you two have put into the preparation of this trip. It doesn’t go unnoticed. I regret to inform you, though, that I have to use the restroom. I know what a setback this infraction may pose, but I promise it won’t take long and we need to get gas anyway.”

3. Hotels
At this point of your trip, you’ve come very far and you’ve already worked through a number of obstacles. I’m proud of you. This, though, may be the toughest battle of them all: the hotel. Hotels can either make or break a trip. Typically, they break it.

There’s something about stuffing your family plus big chunky suitcases into a tight room after a day of travel that just does not work.

Now that I think about it, it makes perfect sense why this part of the process is bound to fail: Your siblings are whining about the Wi-Fi password not working, your mom is freaking out trying to remember whether you bought toothpaste or not, your dad is chilling on the bed, which is making your mom even more stressed, your dogs are running around sniffing every corner of the room, and you, you are looking around asking yourself how the hell you’re going to get through another minute of this madness.

So, how do you possibly overcome the ruthless hotel portion of your trip? I’m glad you asked.

You need to start with being the biggest people pleaser you have ever been in your life. Your mom starts freaking out in search of her jacket? You better find that jacket quicker than you have ever found anything in your life. Your dad can’t locate the remote? You better find it, or, quickly replace it with another source of entertainment to distract him. Basically, for the first couple of hours, you have to make sure everyone is content. After everyone is at ease, this is when you get to relax as well.
With all of this done, you are set up to have the most amazing, relaxing, and civil family trip you never could have imagined.
Family trips may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and they’re definitely not mine. But, traveling with the fam is more or less bound to occur, especially while we still live under the roof of our parents.

While the summer journey, family in tow, can be difficult at times, I urge you to try to enjoy them to the best of your ability. Hopefully, by reading this beforehand, you will have a good idea of what to do in times of panic to make for a solid trip with unforgettable memories. Whether it feels like it or not, high school is going to fly by quickly. And after that, trips like these don’t tend to happen as often so make the most of it! And who knows, you might actually end up having fun.