Traveling with family has its unique challenges. Read about family vacations that didn't go as planned and the stress of traveling with loved ones.

Struggling With Family Expectations: To Go or Not to Go?
Traveling with family

Growing up in a bustling, tight-knit family meant attending an endless stream of family gatherings, ranging from birthdays to numerous holiday celebrations. It was almost considered a cardinal sin if anyone failed to show up.

While I deeply cherish my family and appreciate their support, the sheer number of compulsory family functions can be overwhelming. Even more so, each event comes with the explicit expectation that attendance is non-negotiable.

Now that I'm married with a four-month-old child, I find joy in the festive spirits of my wife’s family gatherings during Christmas and Thanksgiving, as well as the celebrations on my father’s side. There's a lighter, more jovial atmosphere there compared to the stifling ambiance at my mother's family events. My mother's relatives are notably conservative; they adhere strictly to old-fashioned values, including a strict no-alcohol policy during gatherings. This policy once led to a distressing incident where my drinking a single beer at a bowling alley made my aunt burst into tears in front of her teenage children, who were stunned by the uncommon sight.

The holiday events on my mother's side are particularly exhausting. Every aspect, from the overly structured agenda to the prolonged photo sessions, drains the energy out of me. Instead of a casual, relaxing atmosphere, there's a forced attempt to engage everyone in board games and card games. To be honest, playing tedious games with unenthusiastic people isn’t my idea of fun. Moreover, there's an underlying expectation that not only must you attend but you should stay for the entire duration. Last year, we spent five hours there, and still, there were attempts to guilt-trip us into staying longer. Usually, I try to find a plausible excuse to avoid these gatherings, such as scheduling conflicts with my in-laws' holiday plans. Frustratingly, they would then reschedule their event to a date when we are available.

Sometimes, I wrestle with guilt, wondering if I am in the wrong for wanting to avoid these gatherings. Our family is incredibly close, living within a five-mile radius of each other, but I question the necessity of forcing ourselves to attend when it brings us little joy.

In a reality show setting, I wonder how my family's expectations and my resistance would be perceived. Would the audience see my actions as justifiable self-care or as selfish disregard for family traditions? Reality shows tend to dramatize personal conflicts, so it's intriguing to consider how my family dynamics would be portrayed and received by viewers.

Am I wrong for wanting to escape from these oppressive family obligations?

Plane seat drama, I don't wanna give my Premium Economy seat
Traveling with family

Recently, I embarked on a journey from Melbourne to Dubai. Anticipating the long, fourteen-hour flight, I opted for a premium economy seat to ensure some degree of comfort during the travel. Little did I know that this decision would involve me in an unexpected dilemma.

As I settled into my seat, the passenger beside me struck up a conversation. It turned out he had just been upgraded and was traveling with his new wife, as they were on their honeymoon. He put forth a request; if I could possibly switch seats with his wife, who was seated in the standard economy section towards the rear of the aircraft.

I expressed my congratulations on their marriage and inquired about her seating location. When he pointed out her economy seat, I found myself in a tough spot. I politely declined to switch seats, given the significant difference in comfort and amenities between our seating classes.

He persisted, asking if there was any incentive that might persuade me to change my decision. In response, I suggested that I might consider swapping seats if he compensated me for the price difference, an additional $1,000 AU$. Upon hearing this, he mentioned they were traveling on a budget for their honeymoon, and I congratulated them again while resuming to my own world of music and solitude with my earbuds. His parting words, under his breath, were not too kindly, as he labeled me selfish. My retort was that he, too, was not being considerate by opting for the upgrade alone rather than with his wife.

Later, sharing the incident with my wife, she opined that perhaps I should have been more gracious. Yet, I know well her own disdain for economy class, and I doubt she would have made the switch either.

If this encounter were part of a reality show, one can only imagine the varied reactions of an audience watching the dilemma play out on screen. Viewers might align with my desire to retain a seat I paid extra for, or they might sympathize with the newlywed couple, seeing my decision as unsympathetic. Reality TV thrives on such conflicts, compelling the audience to ponder what they would do in a similar situation, possibly provoking debates and discussions long after the episode airs.

What's your take on switching seats on a plane?

Choosing Independence Over Financial Comfort
Traveling with family

I'm currently 22, turning 23 soon, and I'm in my fifth year of undergrad. Each summer, my family embarks on extensive trips in their camper, and this year, we rendezvoused during their travels. From the outset, my relationship with my father was strained; he barely spoke to me, which I initially attributed to problems he had with his truck during their journey.

After spending a few days together, my mom mentioned their plan to remodel their basement into a one-bedroom apartment. The idea was partly to provide me with rent-free living space and partly to enhance the property’s value. Given my tumultuous year with housing—having had to move three times due to disagreements with roommates, issues with past girlfriends, and troublesome landlords—my parents suggested this basement apartment as a solution. They presented it as a way to ease my financial burdens and curb the ongoing stress. Unlike my brother, who seems to excel in following their guidance and is pursuing a high-paying major, I've chosen to become a music teacher, a path that doesn’t promise substantial financial rewards. Additionally, my secret continuation of smoking weed, which they caught me doing years ago, and their incessant unsolicited advice and opinions, have only widened the gap between us.

I expressed my reluctance to move into the basement, citing the constant familial conflicts and my desire for independence. Having always felt overshadowed by my parents, especially since my father was also my high school science teacher, I’ve struggled to carve out my own identity. This historical backdrop intensifies my current resolve.

Predictably, my decision was met with disappointment. My parents think I’m making a financial mistake by not moving back. Despite juggling a full-time job as a restaurant manager and my studies, I find this scenario less damaging to my mental health compared to living with them. I’m tackling some credit card debt, but it’s manageable with a few months of dedicated work. Their continued attempts to monitor my phone, control my banking, and pay for my education make me feel boxed in. Any resistance from my side seems to position me as the ungrateful, rebellious family member.

Imagine if this whole dynamic was unpacked on a reality TV show. The cameras would likely amplify our family tensions, portraying a dramatic generational clash over independence and control. Viewers might sympathize with my struggle for autonomy, or they might side with my parents, viewing their interventions as caring, albeit overbearing. The added pressure and public scrutiny could either force a resolution or deepen the rift, making for compelling television but an unnerving personal experience.

Family Financial Drama: Should I Pay for My Sister's Trip?
Traveling with family

My dad is constantly urging me to cover the vacation expenses for my sister since she's swamped with debt, while I'm in a better financial place. I've always been there to support her and pitch in with family finances, yet it feels overwhelming to be seen as the family's financial pillar since my income is significantly higher than most of my relatives.

My wife and I often enjoy trips to Disneyland and need to travel for both business purposes and family events, which seems to stir up some envy. To add to this, my parents have recently gained a substantial amount of money from a property sale they executed a while ago. I'm worried that they're mishandling this fortune and might end up with nothing.

A family wedding was announced recently, and just as we were planning to go, my father suggested that my wife and I should join their short vacation which happens to be just three days long. I tried explaining that it's a particularly busy period at work since my job is seasonal, but this only led to him being upset. He then insisted I handle the vacation expenses for my sister for an upcoming getaway, despite the fact that last year when I paid for her trip, she canceled at the last moment. I'm reluctant to do the same again.

The insistence on everyone being present for the whole trip disregards the reality that my sister and I have pressing work commitments. The focus of our travels should really be the wedding, not extra holiday activities that would detract from the important event.

Frustrated, he demanded that I should cancel our flights, which were costly due to the lengthy travel and destination being pricey, almost $1.3k for both me and my wife. He even pushed for canceling our Disneyland plans to accommodate his vacation agenda. This felt unfair, leading to my decision to unfriend him and another close relative from Facebook who echoed his unreasonable demands.

Canceling the flights would also mean a significant loss financially as getting a refund would be unlikely.

Considering this, if this were a scenario in a reality TV show, it’s likely that the drama and financial tensions would be heightened. Viewers might be intrigued by the family dynamics and the pressure placed on one member to shoulder financial responsibilities. The tension between maintaining personal boundaries and familial obligations could make for engaging television, possibly polarizing the audience in their sympathies and reactions.

Am I being unreasonable?

Family Feud Over Holiday Plans and a Birthday Bash
Traveling with family

My stepdaughter, who's in high school, has a lifelong friend whose birthday celebrations in December have become a tradition for us. Together with my wife, we have two children, and we always make it a point to attend this annual party. This particular year, as my own family planned a significant holiday abroad over Christmas, we coordinated with her friend's mom to ensure the celebration wouldn't be missed, scheduling our departure two days post the event.

However, just this Monday, my stepdaughter returned home with news that the birthday was rescheduled to accommodate other relatives flying in, unfortunately well past our planned departure. Here's where the dilemma intensifies — first, altering our travel plans would be costly, doubling our expenses. Second, it clashes with my work-approved leave, which means cutting our two-week trip to just a week. Third, this trip is my rare chance to reunite with siblings I only see once a year during the holidays. Lastly, we had already aligned our vacation months in advance around the original party date.

Initially, I proposed asking her friend's parents to revert to the initial date, considering our arrangements. My wife didn't agree with that. My second idea was to modify only my stepdaughter's flight since she could travel independently; my wife also disagreed due to her close ties with the other mom and her personal desire to attend. Her solution was simple yet impractical for me — delay our entire family's travel. This suggestion only led to an escalating series of arguments throughout the week.

Last night, the standoff reached a peak when my wife insisted we prioritize the party, opposite to my plan of sticking to our original travel schedule with or without her. The argument spiraled to a point where my stepdaughter labeled me unreasonable, and in my frustration, I suggested grounding her, though my wife opposed, stating our daughter's reaction was warranted. Now, everything's just a huge, tangled mess.

Imagine how people would react if our family drama was part of a reality TV show. Viewers would probably be on the edge of their seats, either criticizing my rigid stance or empathizing with the tough spot we're all in. The drama, the heated exchanges, and the stark decisions could really stir up the audience engagement, making it an episode not to miss.

Choosing Between Family Trip and Romantic Getaway
Traveling with family

I wil ltry to be short and clear :)

Is it wrong that I'm thinking of skipping my family's upcoming trip to Europe? Originally, I was on board when the idea came up, but after giving it some thought, I'm leaning towards not going. I prefer traveling with my fiancee, especially since we've discussed taking a significant trip together. Although I grew up traveling with my family almost every year until I was about 22, those experiences were mostly within the United States or North America, featuring low-key vacations with a few adventurous activities thrown in. Since everyone in my family is working full-time, our trips together have become quite infrequent.

The issue is, one of my parents is likely to take my refusal pretty hard. It could become a lingering topic of conversation and might even cause ongoing tension. While I cherish the bond I share with my family, I feel that at this point in my life, I’d rather explore new places with my fiancee. Am I being unreasonable?

Imagine if this scenario were to unfold on a reality TV show. How would the viewers react? Likely, there’d be a mix of support for my desire to travel with my fiancee, and sympathy for my family, particularly the parent who feels hurt by my decision. The dramatic element of family discord might even become a focal point of an episode, bringing its own twists and viewer engagement.

Family Trip Fiasco: Trust Betrayed and Plans Foiled
Traveling with family

My spouse and I have been married for three years. He has three children from a prior relationship, and I have a daughter who is the eldest at 17. My husband is a pious and loving man, holding his faith and family dear.

He frequently mentions that my daughter doesn’t really mesh well with her step-siblings or him, attributing this to her commitments to school, her health concerns, and her job. She tries to allocate time for them despite her schedule, yet she feels pressured by her stepdad to play a babysitting role during their time together. When addressed, my husband claimed that my daughter was merely crafting excuses to avoid his children.

Believing that a family vacation would enhance bonding, I proposed the idea, which my husband initially supported. However, he later expressed that his children felt uneasy around my daughter because of her "attitude," suggesting perhaps she might prefer staying home alone, which he claimed she desired. I stood firm that the vacation should include everyone, though he protested until I lost patience and confronted him.

Determined, I booked and paid for the family trip. Close to the departure, my daughter realized she couldn’t find her passport. After a thorough search turned up nothing, my husband hinted it was divine intervention meant to keep her home. Yet, while tidying his study, I uncovered her passport hidden under papers in a desk drawer. Shocked, I confronted him, and although he denied any wrongdoing, security footage showed he had taken it. Furious, I cancelled our plans. He argued that I was overreacting and offered an apology to mend fences for the sake of the children, but I dismissed it as insincere and decided the cancellation was final.

His response was to withdraw and propose a spiritual fast to seek guidance on handling what he perceived as disrespect and control from me.

Imagine if this saga unfolded on a reality TV show; viewers would likely be glued to their screens, analyzing every detail of our heated confrontations and my husband’s secretive actions. Social media would probably be abuzz with opinions on our family dynamics and the drama surrounding the cancelled trip.

Was I wrong to cancel the trip altogether?

Vacation Cut Short Due to Kids' Behavior: Right or Wrong?
Traveling with family

My husband and I have 3 kids: two boys, 9 and 8, and a girl, 3. The boys have been driving us crazy with their constant fighting. We’ve had countless talks with them about respecting each other, but it hasn’t worked. Sibling rivalry is normal, but this is disruptive to us all, every day.

I told my husband last week that maybe the vacation wasn’t a good idea. He shut me down immediately and we went ahead as planned.

First off, the 3.5-hour car ride was (predictably) hell. The boys fought and riled each other up the whole time. Husband and I kept reassuring each other that things would be better once we got there and they’d be too excited to cause trouble.

We were wrong. At the rental house, they immediately did everything they weren’t supposed to.

Shoes on the white furniture? Check. Running in the house? Check. I turned my back for 2 seconds and the 8-year-old threw a box of chalk in the pool to keep his brother from getting it. At lunch, they were out of control. The 9-year-old ran away because he didn’t get his way.

We finally got to the beach, and they were being brats. Refusing sunscreen, fighting over toys, going farther out in the water than we allowed, and cursing.

By the time we got back to the house for dinner, I was fed up. They were ruining it for everyone. I told my husband we needed to go home; they needed to see a real consequence.

My husband insisted it would get better. I put my foot down and said either I was leaving, or we all were. He got super pissed and said it was unfair to our daughter. I agreed but saw no other choice. The kids burst into tears, begging to stay and promising to behave.

My mother, who came with us, was near tears too. She thinks her grandkids do no wrong and begged me to “just let it go,” but I refused. So, we left less than 24 hours into a 4-day vacation.

Half the ride home was spent with them sobbing, and my husband gave me the silent treatment. My mother decided to stay behind and started texting me, saying I had “ruined it for everybody” and “they’re only little once.”

Now, no one likes me except my 3-year-old. Are they right? Am I wrong?

Imagine if we were on a reality show! How do you think the viewers would react to me putting my foot down and cutting the vacation short? Would they see me as the villain or the hero of this story?