10 Easy Rules for Vacationing With Family
As I write this post, my laptop’s internet signal strength brings to mind what it would be like to share a milkshake with nine other people sucking simultaneously through individual straws. And as I peck out my thoughts this morning, sipping fresh coffee with my own special creamer, the snow falls softly outside the Crested Butte ski resort condo where my party of ten continues to snooze. Inside the semi-separateness of the connecting three bedrooms and the loft where we have spread ourselves out to cohabitate for a week, for now all is peaceful. I enjoy these calm, gentle mornings alone because it’s the only time that feels like my real life. I am accustomed to having lots of quiet time to myself, and I am spoiled at home with endless personal, private amenities. But be assured, the peace and solitude I am enjoying now will completely vaporize once everyone wakes up. Sharing a home with lots of other people is an experience to behold, and I have learned a thing or two this week about how to get along with everyone I love, but don’t necessarily love to live with, with the least amount of inconvenience.
1. The teenagers must be quarantined.
No consideration whatsoever can be given to the comfort of their sleeping arrangements if the trade-off is that they are in or even near communal areas. Avoid this at all costs. Even if you have to pile them on top of each other, put them on the floor, or tuck them into closets, just make sure they are as far away from everything and everyone else as possible. Why? Because they are the loudest, they stay up the latest, they sleep in the longest, they are the messiest, they are the stinkiest (if they are boys), and they will encroach on all of their surrounding territories. They’re kind of like kudzu.
2. Put the early risers nearest the kitchen.
They will be up first, banging around and making the coffee, opening and closing doors, making breakfast, talking…and if you are a slumberer like me, this is a terribly annoying way to wake up every morning.
3. Showers are easy. Showers with hot water, on the other hand, are like the lottery.
Either get up super early or wait until really late to get your bathtime on. And when you do, keep it short. Your vacation is not the time to lose yourself as you normally would under the hypnotic, endless cascade of a steamy soak. Be considerate. The teenagers will need to be coached and re-coached about this many times. Fortunately, they are never on the winning end of this gamble because, again, they get up last. Take that, suckas…
4. Stake a claim on your plugs and chargers.
I conducted a mental count of the technology devices under this roof, and with a phone, an iPad and a laptop for most members of my party, plus the GoPros and other digital cameras sprinkled throughout, we have approximately thirty chargers scattered amongst us. Mine disappeared yesterday while I was searching for a nook or cranny where I could blow-dry my hair, and I found it in my mother’s room — she and I being the only ones who still have the dinosaur that is an iPhone 4s. She said it was hers; I insisted it was mine, and so it began…the vacation version of Dirty Santa. In the teenagers’ room we discovered fifteen chargers and yet not one of the kids claims to have any idea how they all got in there. The lesson here: write your name on your stuff and plug in early.
5. Don’t expect your favorite creamer / bagels / snacks / sodas to be there when you want them.
Food is a hot commodity, and no one will give consideration to which food belongs to whom. It’s communal food when you’re on vacation. I suggest buying Lactaid milk, things that need to be cooked, and anything organic, fresh, or healthy. Nobody will even touch those items except for you. A toaster strudel won’t make it much past dark on the first day. Buy ten boxes of cereal, at least.
6. Anticipate that you will be either extremely hot or extremely cold at all times.
The heat/AC will be adjusted and readjusted endlessly throughout the week as all of the unique individuals in the house, with their unique internal thermostats, struggle to adjust to the vacation normal. The person who gets up the earliest or stays up the latest usually has the most power in this realm.
7. Embrace individual schedules and allow everyone to make separate plans if they want.
Not everybody wants to hit the slopes on the same day at the same time, and maybe some in the group would rather shop than swim or ski. Let everyone do what they want to do. Be flexible! If you’re lucky, there will be somebody who prefers to stay back at the condo and relax. If you’re really lucky they may also feel like straightening up the place or even making dinner for everybody…let them! These are the same lucky souls who get all their laundry done.
8. Everybody poops.
Accept it, and know you will have to poop too, and you won’t get any privacy. A lit match helps, perhaps a spritz of Poo-pouri, or a perfectly timed shower-poop combo can alleviate any awkwardness that might occur. But still, you won’t miss anything on your family getaway as much as you miss your private bathroom at home.
9. Make cookies.
This will bring everyone (especially those teenagers!) out of their seclusion and into the gathering areas, and this is when the magic happens. Sharing a delicious snack before everyone retires to their bedrooms fosters storytelling and good-hearted small talk, and this camaraderie is what family vacations are really all about. Convince everyone to try a game of Trivial Pursuit. You won’t regret it.
10. Remember that Family is everything.
And when all else fails, keep in mind that marijuana is legal in Colorado, if it comes to that.