What She Wants

Family Travel Etiquette: How to Survive Your Next Big Holiday Trip

Sit down for a family meeting and establish these rules from the Truly Rich Lady for a tolerable vacation.

Because we work so very hard and see so little of each other, family vacations are absolutely sacred to the Truly Rich Lady.

This is why I am not afraid to break a few eggs whenever I am appointed as the HCIC or Head Coo In Charge of our annual year-end holiday extravaganzas. Before we leave, I do and always lay down the law, declare the expectations, and make clear the ground (or air) rules for everyone who will be part of the trip. I go so far as to even calling a meeting, where every detail is ironed out and everyone is expected to take notes. Here are a few things that I always, ahem, foist upon my family.

Mind your children.

Dear parents, the blissfully single and the beautifully old are not additional nannies for your children. You (and Nanny) remain the primary minder of your kids, all of whom you have chosen to bring to our family trip, despite the fact that a baby will never remember drooling on the carpet of the Hotel de Crillon.

We have also received your request to watch over the gremlins—I mean, kids—for an entire day so that you can “shop and stuff.” We are declining. Actually, the best course of action, apart from leaving the babies at home, is to BYON (bring your own nanny).

Determine payments ahead.

Is this an all-expense-paid trip (courtesy of Truly Rich Grandfather)? Or will the costs be divvied up among the families? And will that split be according to weight (the prolific parents pay more, of course) or according to activity (I usually take care of the first and last lunches)?


We have to sort all of these now for things to run smoothly during and after the trip. The last thing we want is a post-vacation meeting to discuss line item number 35. Whose idea was it to rent a car service for an entire month? 

Respect the plan.

My very perfect itinerary, which was put together by my very perfect assistant, accommodates all the different tastes, temperaments, and physical conditions of the participants of the trip. Its schedules and venues have also been calibrated so as to avoid crowds and minimize foot travel.

So: Please do your best to stick to the plan. May I remind you that we have agreed to go on this trip so that we can all be in one place at the same time. And don't worry! The plan is flexible. We can skip the bike ride around the palace because you “need more time to sleep.” Alternatively, we can just leave you.  

Be on time always.

As a person who is annoyingly over-early for everything I expect that everyone arrives at the meeting place on time, especially for days when we are, say, seeing a play, indulging in a private shopping appointment, or dining at that restaurant that required reservations months in advance. Not rushing to our destination equals a pace that is leisurely and an overall feeling of happiness. 

Respect personal time.

I have carved out me-time for each and everyone just so we don't get sick of each other. Do not be offended if Mom and I went out to that little place for brunch without you. We just need a breather. See you at 4 p.m.

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Do not be that person.

I know your fragile little heart causes you to transform from affable young person into the most hideous monster snob in a blink, but please reserve your adult tantrum for when we get back home. One sulky traveler face spoils the mood of the entire group. Here, have a cramique brioche to cover your pout.

Remember others.

It all boils down to the essential manners that have already been drilled down into our hearts. When questions arise regarding what to do when traveling with family, just remember to be mindful of others and not just yourself. Remember to be happy (you're in the Seychelles!). Remember to be friendly. Remember to smile.

A thoughtful gesture can spell the difference between a stranger offering you an unexpected act of kindness like, say, helping you carry your Silver Cross stroller, and just lugging around your baby stuff by yourself. 

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