3 Tips for Traveling with Your Extended Family in 2022
Of course you love your parents, your grandparents, your adult siblings and their kids, yet it’s been a while since you've spent a lot of time with them. Covid-19 has kept us apart for so long that it may be a little daunting to imagine being with them for days on end. Our US Thanksgiving or your upcoming holidays are a great time to sit at a table (or a Zoom link) and plan a post-Covid multi-generational family getaway for 2022. But what kind of trip will feel comfortable for everyone as you navigate coming back together after being away for so long?
According to the University of Cambridge Center for Family Research, “although family relationships are often assumed to be life-long, loving, supportive, and shelter from a global pandemic, some are challenging, distant and inactive, and can make a pandemic more difficult.” Not every extended family has enjoyed peace and harmony over the last year and a half. Even if you have stayed in touch with your extended family, being with them 24/7 might present a whole new set of challenges. It’s important to select a trip and make provisions that will maintain personal boundaries and make everyone feel safe and at ease. Here are some tips:
1) Choose a style of travel that supports autonomy.
Getting used to your extended family again is going to take some time. Traveling by small expedition ship so people can have their own cabins to escape to is a great option. Plus small ship expeditions to places like the Galapagos Islands, Alaska, and even Antarctica have fantastic activities for all ages and activity levels. Even this Enchanted Isles expedition to windswept British shores would offer a great deal of autonomy for all family members.
Staying in one place such as at one of our wellness properties is another great idea. People can have their own rooms, do their own thing, then meet up for meals or specific activities everyone can enjoy, like a sunset cruise at Zil Payson in the Seychelles, or learning to make elevated Mexican dishes at Casa de Sierra Nevada in San Miguel, Mexico. Land trips like African safaris or European journeys are classic family trips, however traveling in vehicles for extended periods may cause friction. Choose a safari with short flights like this 12-day Kenya & Tanzania trip, or an overland journey with just 2 or 3 destinations so people can retreat to their own accommodations after a day of travel.
2) Be clear about who’s paying.
If grandparents or parents want to treat, all the better. Family members in different financial positions will find it hard to navigate if some can afford luxury and some can’t. Parents or grandparents picking up the bill can create a sense of ease that will have everyone at their best, plus making memories with your family is possibly one of the best ways to use your resources.
Creating wonderful experiences now for your family can go a long way toward healing the past and helping everyone recover from the isolation brought on by Covid-19. If you do share out the bill, try to make it a comfortable amount for each family member. The goal is for everyone to show up to the trip feeling excited and ready to enjoy the whole experience. Negative feelings from someone who can’t afford what everyone else is doing will create tension for the whole group.
3) Be extra compassionate.
Due to Covid-19, your family members, like everyone else in the world, have been going through a very traumatic experience. Even people who seem strong and fine on the outside have been affected at some level by the stresses of the last couple of years. The Center for Disease Control points out that “it’s natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Coming out of isolation to travel with your extended family could cause anxieties that weren’t present in your family before.
Be sure not to react negatively in the moment if someone in your family seems distant, becomes angry, or complains. Your first reaction might be to yell back, share your own worries, or push people away. That’s why it’s so important to have a room or ship’s cabin you can retreat to if emotions get out of hand. Excuse yourself, return to your private space, and then, when you feel better, speak calmly with your family member about what’s bothering them. Being compassionate while on this trip could create stronger family connections than you’ve ever had before.
Planning an adventure you’ll remember for a lifetime is a wonderful idea for reuniting with your extended family in 2022. Contact us for great trip ideas that will take into account the needs of this unprecedented time. If you do take the time to reestablish your family connections, you’ll be better prepared for what lies ahead (climate change?) long after this trip becomes a memory and a series of family photos.
And don’t forget to travel sustainably with Wild Nectar.