How to enjoy a family vacation as a college student

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(Photo by oatsy40 under CC BY 2.0.)

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We’ve all been there — you stretch out your limbs after finally getting off that some-hour-long plane ride, energized and excited to explore the brand new world at your fingertips. But after a stressful baggage claim experience and a nightmarish rental car drive, you realize that your dad is already screaming about an itinerary no one else helped him with, your siblings are fighting over hotel beds way too small for comfort and the thought of spending every second of the foreseeable future with your dysfunctional family begins to make you dizzy. No need to fret! Follow the guidelines below and I can personally guarantee that, upon returning from your family vacation, you’ll only bring back pictures and positive memories, as opposed to battle scars from a family you never want to see again. 

Familiarize yourself with the travel destination

Nothing’s worse than hitting the town in a new place only to realize that the few phrases you remember from your high school Spanish class aren’t going to cut it in Germany. Jokes aside, be sure not to waste all the precious time your parents spent planning by refusing to do even the most minimal of Google searches. Figure out what your destination has to offer, what’s worth doing and what every member of your family would enjoy experiencing together. But everyone has a different opinion of fun, which is why it’s important always to…

Keep an open mind

You might have to see a couple more cathedrals before the sun goes down. Suck it up. While some activities may initially seem dull, culture is arguably the most enjoyable aspect of travel. Take it from me — as a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie, I’m the last person to suggest an art museum as the first thing to see. However, I’ve found that the cultural immersion one experiences in a new destination is extremely gratifying. Embrace a new way of life, absorb as much culture as you can and appreciate all the sights that you wouldn’t get to see anywhere else. 

Pick at least one thing you want to do

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. From experience, I can’t tell you how important it is to present something you want to do/see to your parents. No one likes forcing their family to galavant around only to be criticized when boredom inevitably strikes. My dad’s eyes lit up when he realized I had done my own research and his mood brightened for the entirety of the trip. 

Pick a country with nightlife

By “nightlife,” I really mean “a lowered drinking age.” My family vacation last year to Paris was the highlight of my summer, for this reason alone. You’re an adult, go have some fun! Any country in Europe is bound to be exciting for any college student, and if you play your cards right and don’t piss your parents off, they might be more willing to let you go out by yourself at night. Who knows? If they’re chill enough, they might even get a few drinks with you. 

Family vacations should be more enjoyable than stressful, but I’ve heard far too many horror stories in the past that have convinced me to create the above traveler’s guide. Hopefully, you can internalize these tips and follow them the next time your family explores a new place. I’m confident that if you do, traveling with your family will become a beautiful experience that every member looks forward to. 

Contact Sebastian Colie at [email protected].