How to Go on Vacation With Your Boyfriend/Girlfriend's Family

The last time I was on vacation with someone else’s family was when I was in high school. I went to California with my friend Kristy and her family to visit her older brother who was in college out there. The trip consisted of sightseeing. We saw the Hollywood Hills, Laguna Beach, Rodeo Drive, and (most importantly for two high school juniors) lots of college boys. We tried to act like we weren’t intimidated by them, their dorm rooms, their lack of parental supervision, and their girl friends with great hair. But we were. It was a great trip overall. But going on vacation with your best friend is very different from going on a trip with your boyfriend.

I’d never been on a trip with a boyfriend and his family until this week. I’m currently in Virginia Beach with Chris, his dad, his dad’s girlfriend, and his brother. Virginia Beach is a great place. In many ways it reminds me of California. There’s a beach running right up to the long boardwalk where people rollerblade and ride bikes. You’ve got lots of volleyball courts and cute shops everywhere. But then there is also a classier Jersey Shore feel to it because you’ve got plenty of bars and shops selling shirts that say “YOLO” and “Come at me Bro.”

So far we’ve explored the town, done our fair share of bar-hopping, seen the aquarium, gone for a bike ride on the boardwalk, checked out a little carnival that was going on, laid on the beach, and more. But I’ve learned a few things on this trip. See, being on a vacation with your significant other’s family is much different from simply going over for dinner. It’s even different from going to spend the night or a weekend at his/her parents’ house. This is because vacations are longer. A week is a long period of time to be on “perfect girlfriend behavior” and because of this…you can’t. You have to just be a normal person. Here are some things I’ve learned about vacationing with your significant other’s family:

1.) Don’t be afraid to do your own thing for a little bit: It’s important to spend time with his family, participate in activities, and generally be a social person. But that doesn’t mean you have to do every single thing with the family all the time. Think about it: when you go on vacation with your own family, I bet there are times when you do your own thing. Same goes for a vacation with your boyfriend’s family. It’s okay to break off and go read while the guys play cards (or in my case write while the guys play cards) or sit on the beach if they want to wakeboard. Be friendly and social, but you don’t have to move as a unit for the entire vacation.

2.) Eat normally: At first it feels a little weird just going to the refrigerator and getting a snack when you’re not in your own house or your parents’ house. But, again, this is your home for a week. You have to feel comfortable. Don’t eat all the strawberries or leave the milk out so it goes bad. But eat normally like you would at home.

3.) Be neat: I’m hyper-aware of how neat I am when I’m on vacation when my boyfriend’s family. Tables get an extra wipedown. Dishes get thoroughly rinsed. I don’t want anyone thinking, “Ew…this is how they live?” You don’t need to go crazy and get up at 5 am to mop, but…don’t be gross. You get the idea.

4.) Don’t hog the bathroom: When you’re sharing a bathroom with other members of your significant other’s family, it’s important not to take a hundred hours when you’re showering. This is especially important if other people also have to shower, get ready for dinner, pee, etc. Be considerate and use your bathroom time carefully. Take your shower, but then get ready in the bedroom. What’s fine at home when you share with one or two others is different when you’re sharing with more people, people you’re not related to/dating, etc.

5.) Be honest: It’s your vacation too, so don’t be afraid to speak up about what you do or don’t want to do. It’s a lot better than getting dragged along to golf when you don’t know how or not getting to see that museum you’d been dying to check out. As long as you’re not preventing other people from doing what they want to do, there’s no shame in being honest. It can feel a little nervewracking to speak up. You feel bossy and you don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. But if you’re polite, then it’s completely okay to express what you do/don’t want to do.

Have you been on vacation with a significant other’s family before? How did you handle it? What was it like?

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