Psychologist Susan Quilliam’s in conjunction with housetrip.com provides her top five tips for avoiding holiday arguments.
1. Get everyone involved. Talking about the trip beforehand – and letting everyone say what they’d ideally like – lets you meet as many needs as possible and gives the whole family a sense of ownership. Yes, no one will get everything they ask for, everyone will need to compromise, and you may have to negotiate to get a balance of needs met. Being open to everyone’s input will help you make the right holiday decision, get everyone on board with the vacation, and avoid tiffs down the line.
2. Prepare thoroughly. Many holiday squabbles which happen in the lead-up to departure and en route to your destination are due to a lack of preparation. To prepare adequately write packing lists, wash and iron clothes well in advance, book the airport parking, find the passports, get the neighbours to look after the cat, and set off in good time. If the initial stages of your vacation go well, you’ll be much less likely to arrive in a flurry of fight-inducing adrenalin that sends ripples through your whole stay.
3. Pick a destination rich in options. The best holiday has lots of possible activities for all the family. Even if you think that all you’ll want to do is chill on the sun beds, make sure there are opportunities for different interests. Plan outdoor activities for the kids, activity parks for the teens, museums and upmarket restaurants for the grown-ups. This will offset the boredom which is a key trigger for vacation bickering. Often people unconsciously start to scrap because absent the set routine of work or school, they haven’t enough to entertain them.
4. Choose accommodation with space. One of the most fascinating findings of the HouseTrip research – and one that fits with earlier psychological studies is that lack of space. Not being able to have time and privacy, is one of the top factors leading to conflict. Everyone needs their own ‘territory’ where they can feel comfortable and spend ‘internal’ time recovering from busy days; absent that, they’re liable to get irritable and annoyed. Make sure your accommodation is large enough with communal areas where you can all get together, along with private spaces for when people can grab some time alone. The research also revealed fussy eaters not liking the local cuisine whilst on holiday is another key cause of arguments, so again, choosing a property with a kitchen can help alleviate these tensions as you can balance your holiday with a mixture of options to cater to everyone’s tastes.
5. Create ground rules. It’s wise to agree ahead of the holiday, –especially with younger children on some clear holiday boundaries. This avoids everyone’s expectations being different, and that difference leading to disagreements, misunderstandings and resulting scraps. So fix the spending guidelines; agree any curfew. These rules may turn out to be unlike what happens when you’re at home, so be prepared to be flexible. But also be clear, so that everyone’s agreed about what should happen.