Picture the scene. You’re on holiday with your family. The weather is gorgeous, the setting is stunning, the food to die for. Yet your children are fighting, your partner is moaning about the menu prices and you’re feeling like you want to pour a jug of sangria over their heads.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone. More than two thirds of Brits admit to falling out with their loved ones on holiday, according to a recent survey by cruise agent Bolsover Cruise Club. Not only that, but we’re likely to have heated words with them on average four times a week while we’re away!
We put so much pressure on a holiday to be perfect, that when the reality inevitably falls short, it can seem like we’ve failed in some way. And silly little things like picking a bad restaurant or splitting a bill can weirdly turn into a big deal.
It’s important to remember that whether you’re holidaying with friends or family, you’re not going to have the best time with them all the time. You’ve only gone on holiday, not some alternative universe. And the same things that annoy you about each other on home soil can be magnified when you’re on away – everyone being hot and bothered doesn’t help.
So, what can you do to avoid holiday hostilities and ensure the only memories you make are good ones?
Compromise is key
If you’re going in a large group, it’s unlikely that you’ll all want to do the same things. You’ll have some sun worshippers in the mix, who don’t want to stray too far from their sunbeds. Add to that those who want to experience every inch of the country you’re visiting. Then you might have children, who probably don’t ever want to leave the pool. No wonder then, that the survey revealed that arguments over what to see and what to do are the most common fall outs we have with our loved ones on holiday.
Holidaying in a group means compromise. You could try alternating exploring days with beach/pool days, or even splitting up in the daytime to do whatever suits and coming together for meals in the evenings.
Says Michael Wilson, MD of Bolsover Cruise Club: “One key thing to keep in mind is that it’s perfectly okay not to all want to do the same thing while away, whether that’s food, activities or general lounging around the pool, which is why a cruise can provide a great option when wanting to please more than one or two holiday makers.”
Have a food plan
What and where to eat came second in the list of holiday pressure points. Women in particular (41%) admitted they regularly get hot headed towards their travel companions over food choices while on holiday. If you’re holidaying with children, it’s likely you’ll have some fussy or unadventurous eaters among them. And while you might be desperate to get stuck into the local delicacies, you don’t want to have a battle every night or sulky children when they can’t find pizza or chicken nuggets on the menu.
If you have fussy eaters in your midst or you want to find the best of the local cuisine, it pays to do your research. A quick flick through Trip Advisor will save you from aimlessly walking around, as you can check out reviews, see the menus and book a table before you’ve even left your villa. And if everyone in the group gets to choose the restaurant at least once (including the kids), no one can complain!
All-inclusive holidays or cruises are also good options for large groups, because you can all eat together, but everyone can eat whatever they like, without any fuss.
Talk about money before you go away
Next on the list of holiday fallout reasons is money. So, it’s a good idea agree a financial strategy before you go away.
If some members of the group are on a budget, they’re not going to want to go on all the excursions or to fancy restaurants. Make sure you’re sensitive to this and don’t force the issue if they say they want to stay at the villa while you take a coach trip to the market.
Likewise, splitting restaurant bills might mean that some of you are considerably worse off than those who have a three-course meal washed down with two bottles of wine every night. How you’re going to split restaurant bills should be decided before you go away, so it doesn’t get fractious when you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself.
One idea is to have a kitty – where everyone contributes the same amount of money – to easily pay for things like tips, taxi rides and fuel for the hire car, then each person or couple can simply pay for what they have when eating out.
Short keeps it sweet
One of the interesting things the survey revealed was who we can holiday with for the longest before tensions rise. Our partners, friends, and (rather interestingly) brothers, came in the top three. Whereas family members tended to fare the worst, with dads, sisters and grandparents coming in towards the bottom – apparently 2 days, 12 hours is the maximum time we can spend abroad with grandparents without falling out! So, for the most part, the people we can stay civil with the longest are those we choose rather than the ones we are given at birth!
So, it’s no surprise that if you’re holidaying with people with whom you might blow a fuse faster, then it makes sense not to go away for too long. A long weekend away with the parents, sister, brother-in-law and their kids means you can all enjoy each other’s company, but the holiday is over before (hopefully) you start bickering.
Remember, it’s a holiday!
For the majority of us, taking time away from the daily grind is a rare treat. Even if your main priority is to see as much of the country as you can, we all need some time to relax. Rushing from one tourist attraction to the next can make even the toughest of us tired and irritable, and we could come back feeling like we need another holiday. So, make sure you take some time out to savour the moment. Whether that’s a delicious cold aperitif in a beautiful square after a day’s sightseeing, or some family time playing cards by the pool.
And don’t kick yourself if you don’t get to see or do everything you wanted to. Yes, those pictures you took by the Sagrada Familia are amazing, but you’re more likely to remember those moments that you simply spent together, away from the stresses and pressures of life at home, and just enjoyed each other’s company. That’s what holidays are really for – even if you do have a few little arguments in between!