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6 Ways to Minimize Conflict and Maximize Fun on Family Trips


Summer vacations are part of summer fun. However, listening to squabbles in the back seat of the car or finding yourself feeling more irritated with your partner during your adventure makes you secretly wonder if it's worth it. It's natural to have more challenges and conflicts when you're spending extended time getting to your destination. Vacations may push us out of our comfort zones, leaving us laughing afterward but irritated at the time. Being together and enjoying cherished time is why we travel, and research shows that family vacations keep families stronger, smarter, and happier. However, learning to minimize the lows of vacation travel will help ensure the highs and treasured moments.


Not all family conflict is negative; in fact, kids learn important life skills by working through family struggles. If you want to vacation with your family and have fewer conflicts and more harmony, start practicing these six suggestions now.


  1. Set realistic expectations. No family is perfect, and everyone has triggers that set them off during stressful times. Travel can be one of those triggers. If you hate rush hour traffic or get grouchy when you can't find parking spaces or are crowded into a small airplane seat, do what you can to avoid those situations on vacation. Find humor in the challenges instead of getting mad. When your little one has a meltdown, try to quiet them and extend grace to yourself and others instead of scolding them.

  2. Get everyone involved in planning. Give everyone a voice in vacation ideas. When family members feel included, they enjoy the vacation more. You don't have to accommodate all the ideas, but making them feel involved matters. Not only that, but everyone also behaves better when they are invested in the plans.

  3. Schedule downtime. Scheduling playtime each day is important for relaxation and helps you practice self-care. Vacations are supposed to be relaxing, and although seeing the sights and having group activities is fun, you need time alone for relaxation.

  4. Take turns deciding dinner options. When you travel with the kids, let them help decide dinner options. This way, everyone gets to have a say, and sharing meals is an important perk of traveling together. It's also a good lesson for kids that everyone in the family is respected and given opportunities to decide for the family.

  5. When possible, get the biggest car and largest lodging you can afford. Conflict tends to arise when people feel crowded. Having separate rooms or designated personal spaces prevents fighting over invaded personal boundaries.

  6. Pack new or different trip toys and busy work for travel time. Going to a sit-down restaurant or taking long car or plane trips can become monotonous for kids. Have specific travel toys that are only used during travel. The novelty of new things helps occupy children, and quiet is not a luxury but a necessity in busy traffic or on planes.


Although conflict is a by-product of most family vacations, the joy of being together and the relaxation of getting away are what we want to remember most. Vacation conflict does not mean your family is broken; it means your family members are learning, and they feel comfortable enough to express how they feel. The challenge is allowing for expression while teaching your children how to self-soothe and manage their feelings without disrupting others.


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