How to Survive Traveling With Your In-Laws

There are plenty of good reasons to travel with your in-laws. You can spend time with them and so can your kids. If you’re renting a condo or apartment, you can share the costs and perhaps share duties like cooking in, so you’ll save money.

Your in-laws might even agree to watch the kids for a night or two on your vacation so you can spend some time with your spouse.

While all that’s great, traveling with your in-laws can create friction. It’s not just the fact that they’re your in-laws. It can be challenging to travel as a group in general because you might all have different ideas of fun and how you want to spend your time.

The following are some tips to help you not only survive traveling with your in-laws but maybe even enjoy it.

Plan Ahead


When planning a trip with a group, it’s a good idea to have an itinerary in mind. For example, are there any attractions like a dinner show or theme park, such as that are must-dos for anyone in your group? If so, you can discuss these things ahead of time and ensure everyone is on the same page.

From there, you can start booking tickets early on.

This will mean fewer surprises for everyone in your travel group, and they’ll know what to expect. You can save money by booking ahead as well, and you won’t have to stand in line for tickets or worry about who’s paying for what when the time comes.

You don’t want your itinerary to be so jam-packed that you don’t have leisure time or that it becomes stressful. You do want a loose structure for your trip to eliminate uncertainty and make sure everyone’s got an idea of what the trip will look like.

Otherwise, you might spend more time arguing about what you all want to do than actually doing it.

As you’re planning, try to think of ways to incorporate something for everyone.

For example, if you plan time at a theme park that your kids are looking forward to, maybe you do something lower-key in the evening that your in-laws will appreciate.

As you’re planning, you may find that you have no idea what your in-laws like to do, so ask them. For example, maybe they like the outdoors and doing things like hiking or fishing, or perhaps they prefer cultural activities.

Book Somewhere with Separate Spaces


Whether it’s an apartment with separate bedrooms, a hotel room with adjoining rooms or a house, it’s essential if you’re traveling with extended family to have your own areas where you can retreat. If you book the same hotel room or your quarters are too tight, it’s going to get frustrating very fast and tensions will quickly start to run high.

Along with separate bedrooms, having separate bathrooms is also very important.

Take Time Away From Each Other Everyday


When traveling with other people, you might feel obligated to spend all of your time with them, but you absolutely don’t have to and they might not want that either.

Carve out some free time each day where you can rest, relax and recharge separately.

A good way to do this is to simply have naptime, which your kids may also need. Then you and your spouse can quietly relax alone.

It’s also okay to do separate things sometimes. For example, if there’s something that each of you wants to do for the day, split up. You’re still spending great quality time together, but not to the point that it turns into arguments.

Talk with Your In-Laws About Expectations with Your Kids


Grandparents are notorious for spoiling their grandchildren and letting them push all the boundaries. That’s part of the fun of grandparents, but if you’re traveling together, your kids can’t be on a constant sugar high and running amuck.

Talk to your in-laws in advance of your trip so you don’t have to do it in front of the kids. Let them know your expectations as far as boundaries for the kids, what you’re okay with, and what you’re not.

Don’t Put Too Much Pressure on Yourself


If you’re typically the planner in your family, you might put an extraordinary amount of pressure on yourself as you’re planning and executing a family trip. Let some of that go. The trip doesn’t have to be perfect for everyone to have a good time, and it’s your vacation too.

If you can let go of some of the expectations you have for the trip and that people have for you, you’ll feel more relaxed, which will make for a better trip for everyone.

You might also want to sneak away for some alone time even without your kids and spouse, maybe for a spa treatment or a yoga class.

Don’t put too much pressure on your in-laws either. Don’t mentally track every annoyance or grievance. Just let them go. We’re all people, and we all have faults.

You might inadvertently be going into things with the expectation that you’ll get annoyed or provoked, so inevitably, with that mindset, it’s going to happen.

Overall, it’s a limited amount of time you’re going to spend on a vacation, and you should only aim to enjoy that as much as you can.

Discuss Money Early On


Finally, when you’re planning a group trip, you need to work out the financial elements early on—during the planning process if possible. Don’t assume anything as far as who will pay for what, because this can create bad feelings on everyone’s part.

Talk about how you’ll handle food and meals out, what you’ll do when you visit attractions, and how you’ll pay for any other activities. When everyone is clear on what to expect, you’re already eliminating some of the sources of unspoken tension.

Just let go and enjoy the trip along the way, even if it’s not perfect.

About Carolyn Lang