Vacations are times to kick back and relax, but getaways can also be a source of friction among families, friends or couples, as back-seat driving or paying restaurant bills cause tempers to fray. Here are a few tips from Sonia Prades, a psychologist specializing in family relationships, on how to ensure a stress-free summer break. Today, Relaxnews looks at how to reach a happy compromise on meals, activities and the general pace of a vacation with friends.
Something for everyone
Vacations often turn sour when people can't agree on the pace of a getaway. While some are keen to head out at the crack of dawn, others prefer lie-ins and lounging around. Compromises therefore need to be reached.
Sonia Prades suggests that organizing activities can help set the pace of a getaway with options for everyone to take part in if and when they like. Try making a list of suggested activities that each person can sign up for, and keep it flexible. If you decide to go for a walk, you can leave early, for example. It's also wise to set a departure time rather than trying to make everyone get up at a specific time. And it's no big deal if some people don't come along, flexibility is the golden rule: "Be tolerant of those who don't want to join you and of those who prefer to sleep," advises Sonia Prades.
Make sure there's an escape route
One of the keys of a great friends' vacation is making sure everyone has their own space if they need it. Everyone has their own idea of what a vacation should be. Some will want to stick together all the time, whereas others will prefer options involving activities alone or in smaller groups.
Organizing separate activities during the day can be a good way of keeping everyone happy. "After all, it's good to do something different. People can broaden their horizons by joining in with activities they would never have imagined," notes Sonia Prades. What's more, "some people don't have any specific ideas of what they want to do on vacation and are only too happy to try out new things."
The best way of making sure there's an escape route is to go with your own car, recommends Sonia Prades, or to rent a property that's not too remote. That way, it's always possible to escape for a few hours while the others go to the beach, for example.
That said, you should try to avoid spending too much time alone. If you go on vacation as a group, it's also to spend time with others and share experiences.
Plan balanced meals and let everyone order what they like when eating out
It can be a real headache trying to accommodate everyone's tastes and diets on a group vacation. Make sure you identify any allergies, intolerances or other dietary requirements that need to be taken into account - including anyone who doesn't drink alcohol - to make sure everyone's needs can be catered for.
"You also have to accept to do things differently when on vacation and allow yourself deviations from your usual diet," recommends Sonia Prades. Before going shopping, for example, ask each person to list two things they like and two things they dislike. That way, "it's easier to keep everyone happy with a little bit of what they like."
The easiest thing is to plan simple, balanced meals to share together. Plus, everyone should be able to splash out as much as they like in restaurants, so long as they pay for what they eat.