I am sure many of you would have heard of the term, ‘glamping’ used to describe up-market luxury camping, but have you heard of the term ‘gramping’? Apparently, it was coined in the USA to describe holidaying with the grandparents and it is a growing trend.
I have done a fair bit of holidaying with not only grand-parents, but extended family, and it can be a wonderful experience for everyone.
But behind the idyllic picture there can be ‘issues’ you need to discuss and get out in the open before the actual holiday. Because, as I know from experience, not doing this can result in tension you just don’t need when you are on holidays.
So, I offer you my tips for travelling with extended family:
1. Choosing the accommodation
It is likely that everyone is going to have different expectations about where you are staying.
Before you book anywhere, speak to each other about your likes and limitations – you need to tell each what your budget is, what features you would like both inside and out and whether you want to all share one place or stay within the same complex, but in your own room or apartment.
There is no point one person researching accommodation that will cost you each $2000 for the week if one of you only has a budget of $1000. It might sound like hard work, but you will get a short list and come up with something everyone is happy (or at least satisfied) with.
2. Eating arrangements
In 2011, I was lucky enough to stay in a beautiful Italian villa with my family, my brother and his family and my parents – a total of 6 adults and 4 children.
Believe it or not, the issue that caused the most tension was dinner. My brother and his wife do not like cooking while on holiday and wanted to eat out. However, my husband & I thought a barbecue or take away pizza in the beautiful gardens of our villa was a better option.
Neither of us was right or wrong in what we wanted. But because we had not discussed our expectations prior to the holiday, it did lead to some challenging discussions.
I hate waiting for people. When I am ready to do somewhere, I want to go now. However, being together as a group can sometimes cause indecision – have you ever ended up doing nothing because you spent so long trying to work out what to do or where to go to keep everyone happy?
I know this sounds a bit banal, but set out expectations and wishes at the start of the holiday and plot out what days you plan to do what activity. Being inclusive and diplomatic can result in no decision being made and days wasted doing nothing.
Also remember that holidaying together does not mean you are joined at the hip. If everyone wants to do something, you can do it together. But if you want to do something no-one else does, just go! If you don’t, you will most likely regret it later.
4. Who looks after the kids?
The beauty of having lots of adults around is that there are lots of eyes to watch the kids. But just because there are lots of grown-ups around, does not always mean they are watching your children.
Even if you are disappearing off to the toilet for a minute or two, let the others know so they will know to keep any eye on your child too.
Offer to babysit for each other’s children so you can all get a night off for a ‘date’.
Another idea is to share ‘nanna nap’ afternoons. Sometimes there is nothing better than lying down with a good book and drifting off the sleep. If possible, you might be able to alternate this so everyone gets some relaxation and holiday reading in.
5. Different parents, different discipline
You might have been raised in the same family, but now you have your own children, you might have very different parenting styles to your own parents or siblings.
And being together on holiday – as opposed to catching up for lunch or dinner – will bring them to the fore.
It can be attitudes to foods and treats, behaviours that one of you might tolerate and the other does not, use of technology or even what time everyone goes to bed.
Personally, I think this is where you just need to take a deep breath and chant the word ‘compromise’ to yourself. No parenting style is right or wrong. And at the end of the day, this extended holiday is one which you – and your children – will most likely look back on with fond memories.