Travelling with Extended Family – Are You Crazy?

Have you ever been planning a trip and had a family member ask if they can “tag along”?  The option of travelling with extended family may come up, especially if they have seen you travel to exotic locations around the world and they haven’t travelled much or at all.  Is it really a good idea to say yes?

Here are some tips to help you, firstly decide if it is a good idea, and secondly to avoid issues while travelling.

Tip 1:  Do you get along before you travel?

We all know that family aren’t always the easiest people to get along with.  So if you find that you argue / disagree with a family member in familiar surroundings, this is unlikely to change if you are travelling together.  Disagreements may actually increase when you add in unfamiliar issues that arise when travelling.

A simple rule – if you don’t get along / disagree with the family member while you’re at home, don’t travel with them.  It’s highly unlikely that your relationship will improve while away.  It is more likely that it will deteriorate.

We have travelled three times with my mother-in-law, Maureen.  On the first of those trips my sister-in-law also travelled with us.  We got along really well before our first trip together and after three trips away, we still get along really well.

Tip 2:  Pre-plan each persons “must do’s”

If you decide that you are going to travel with extended family, pre-plan each person’s “must do’s”.  So what does this mean?  Have each person list the top three to five things that they want to do / see on the trip.  Some of the items each of you list may be the same, but there are likely to be differences.  The places / things to do on each person’s list then becomes a starting point for planning your trip to make sure you cover each of the listed items (within reason of course).

To give you an example, when we travelled to Italy, the Isle of Capri was on Maureen’s must do list and we all wanted to visit Pompeii.  By spending a couple of days in Naples, we were able to visit both.  I wanted to go up to the Dolomite Mountains, Maureen wanted to visit Sienna and we all had Lake Como on our lists.  Again, we made sure we visited each of these locations.  Of course we had places like Rome, Venice and Florence on our list, but these “must do’s” are places that you might not otherwise get to when you have limited time.

Above: We visited Sienna in Italy as it was on my mother-in-law’s “must do” list.

Tip 3:  Budget can be a sticky issue

Money can be a point of disagreement when travelling.  Is your family member going to be travelling on a “different budget” to you?  For example, will your family member want to stay in a five star hotel with you in the centre of London if their budget doesn’t allow it, even though it is something you have always wanted to do.  Or will it be the opposite.  Do you regularly backpack when travelling and stay in hostels, but your family member insists that they have to stay in a hotel?

The issue of budget goes beyond accommodation.  Will your family member want to eat in restaurants while you love eating street food?  Will your family member not want to take a few side trips because they don’t have the money?  Will your family member not want to go into sites where there is an entrance fee?

Budget issues need to be discussed openly and frankly before travelling together.

Above:  We all agreed that we wanted to take a float plane up into the Alaskan wilderness where we got to see a beautiful brown bear and her two cubs.

Tip 4:  You don’t have to spend all your time together

This one may be a bit more difficult if your family member hasn’t travelled before.  But if you want to do something that they don’t want to do, there is no reason you shouldn’t.  They are a grown person and should be able to look after themselves for awhile.


Seriously think about letting an extended family member “tag along” on an adventure with you.  It may allow you both to have an amazing adventure together.  But if you have any doubts about them travelling with you, seriously consider if you should say yes.  While there may be tensions with saying no, ultimately, it is your hard earned money that you are spending and you want to have the best time possible on your adventure.
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