PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
Family Vacations: Keeping the Peace

So you're all on vacation to spend time together-but what happens when that togetherness isn't all wonderful, magical, fabulous-ness?

Charlie, 9, told us that, "The hardest thing about taking a family vacation is when your siblings come with you and you get into fights a lot."

"For me, the toughest part is having to take care of my sister," says Josephine, 11. "She is one year younger than me and she is a big pain!"

Mae, 12, says "NO PRIVACY" is the biggest vacation challenge. "When you're in a hotel room, it's so hard to find a quiet place. You have to change in those tiny bathrooms, and your siblings constantly bang on the door and demand entrance."

Here are some ideas to help you keep the peace and guarantee a good time for all:

  • Call a Trip Truce. If you've been fighting with a family member about something for a while, try to settle things before you go on vacation-or at least agree to set it aside while you're away from home. A vacation is a chance to get far away from your problems and have a good time as a family. Who knows? When the vacation's over, you may have forgotten your feud!

  • Make agreements ahead of time. Try to anticipate arguments and conflicts. What caused the big problems on your last trip? How can you avoid them this time around? Let's say that in the past, you've always had to share a bed with your sister, but she's a kicker and a cover-hog. Switching the sleeping arrangements may help both of you rest better on this trip. If you have concerns about what may or may not bring trouble, talk to the adults in your family about how you can solve problems before they come up.

  • Care, share, and play fair. These are words to live by every day of your life, but they're especially important while you're on vacation. Because everyone wants to bring home great memories, it can be very upsetting when there are tears, fights, or resentments of any kind. Think about what you say and do, and try your best to avoid anything you know will upset others. Consider other people's feelings, and they'll probably do the same for you.

  • Respect one another's privacy. When you're staying in hotels, motels, RV's, tents, and even in relatives' homes, privacy can be hard to come by. You may feel rushed in the bathroom, or have to change with (gasp!) other people around. Avoid fights and embarrassment by making deals that will give you, and everyone else, as much privacy as possible. For example, tell your brother: "If you agree not to pound on the bathroom door while I'm in there, I'll agree to shower as quick as I can." Or you could say, "I'll go take a walk while you change into your swimsuit, as long as you do the same for me."

  • Work out an allowance. Money is usually a major issue on vacation. Things that cost very little at home, like meals and rooms, can mean big bucks when you're on a trip, and the adults in your family are probably shelling out cash all day long. Make things easier on everyone by setting up an allowance for each day or for the whole vacation. That way, it's your responsibility to pay for your own souvenirs (and even snacks and activities). This will not only help you make decisions about what to buy and what to skip, but save you the hassle of begging for money every time you see something cool.

  • Have alternate plans. If it rains, or something gets cancelled, or you show up too late to do something, the bum-out can leave you with lingering disappointment. This is why it's a good idea to have a plan B, so you always have something fun to do and you won't have to stand around arguing about what to do or where to go next.

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