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Plan ahead to avoid stress on big family vacations

  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • Published Thursday, July 25, 2013, at 12 a.m.

More and more families are vacationing with extended family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. Planning a trip with a big group can be tough; there are a lot of personalities, wants and needs to consider.

Last fall, I went to Disney World with my husband and kids and mother-in-law and brother-in-law. They were very agreeable and we really had no problems, but I’ve heard stories of other experiences with in-laws.

In-law and relationship expert Dr. Deanna Brann recognizes the struggles that can happen with in-laws on vacation. So she came up with five tips to help make your vacation, memorable not miserable:

• Be a team player: Regardless of who is planning the trip, remember to ask questions, compliment your mother-in-law or daughter-in-law, offer help and let her know you’re interested in her thoughts.

• Don’t take things personally: It’s easy to feel stressed when planning a family trip, so as long as you know you’re on your best behavior, you can be certain “it’s not all about you.”

• Find the humor: No matter what happens, look at the humor in it and tuck it away for a story about what she did “this” time.

• Find some down-time for yourself: Amid the family time, sometimes a few minutes alone to reflect and re-energize can be just what you need to get your energy back.

• Establish ground rules in advance: Sit down as a group and discuss what everyone wants to do on their vacation before you leave. Go into it knowing that everyone will want his or her alone time at some point. Planning ahead to determine group activities, what people will do on their own time, who can babysit and when will reduce stressful situations later. Don’t just assume it will work itself out when you get there.

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