I’ve been writing a lot about my fall visit to Croatia, but as you might have realized – I’ve been weirdly vague when it came to personal pronouns. I didn’t have the guts to see it in written words yet… But to be finally honest: It was a vacation with my family.
Yes, I am 25 years old and spent a vacation with my family.
The last time I went on a family vacation I had just turned 17. My parents had rented a cozy little apartment on the Costa Blanca in Spain, which was perfectly located: A half-hour drive to the beautiful city of Alicante, and 10-minute walk to the beach. But I had just turned 17 and sunbathing mixed with sightseeing wasn’t exactly how imagined my fun summer vacation. So I snuck out, let random guys buy me tequila shots and cocavino, and got caught. The usual.
I remember angrily scribbling into my diary that I would never ever ever ever ever ever ever go on vacation with my parents again. The next summer I flew to the United States on my own for two months, and didn’t miss my family for a second. I’ve been planning my own vacations ever since.
And yet, in 2012, I ended up betraying my 17-year-old self. And it turned out to be pretty okay actually. How did that happen?!
My parents usually go on one trip each year and they were looking for a nice new destination for the annual vacation last summer. I had learned about AirBnb apartment renting earlier that year and introduced them to it. At some point helping them with researching, my sister Anneke and I stumbled upon this super cute old house in Baška on the island of Krk in the Adriatic Sea. When we saw that the house had five beds, we started joking around how we would just go there as a family.
And somehow the joke became serious. My sisters and I are students right now so we all have empty bank accounts – but lots of wanderlust. And renting an apartment with our parents sounded like a cheap option to get out and get some much needed sun. And just like that – we were booked for a trip to Croatia. With the parents. In our twenties.
At first, somehow it felt like nothing had changed since our last trip. When we were younger my parents would squeeze us, the dog, and food supplies into the car and drive anywhere in Europe: Switzerland, Italy, Spain, you name it. (And yes, my dad drove 24 hours straight to Spain. And back. Twice.) And suddenly we were back there again.
I reviewed my former (admittedly bitchy teenage) perception of a vacation with my family and realized that it is really not a bad way to travel. But like traveling with any given companion — a grown-up family vacation has its ups and downs.
Traveling with the parents
Advantage: Dad drives. You don’t have to worry about knowing where you are or about staying awake. We girls just cuddled up in the back of the car and slept, listened to music, watched the landscape pass by.
Disadvantage: Dad drives. My dad is a little wannabe retro hippie. He refuses to use a satnav, and prefers old paper maps instead. Before we left he spent hours calculating the distances of certain routes, which I found pretty cool — I mean, who still knows how to do that nowadays?
But when we drove back from Plitvice Lakes, he wanted to try a short cut he had seen on the maps. A “short cut”. Right. We ended up in a dense forest where the “road” barely was a gravel path. It was dark already and we had no idea where we were. No lights, no other cars for longer than an hour, no cell phone reception. And signs saying there are old war mines everywhere. MINES!!
Advantage: Mom packs the “family things”. From olive oil to toilet paper, my mom is a road trip expert and she thinks of everything! If you’re staying in an apartment, bringing your own cooking supplies is way cheaper (especially in Croatia) and more efficient. Salt? Kitchen towels? Coffee filters? I totally would have forgotten these things. And she even brought board games, books, and chocolate cookies — in case the weather got bad. Moms are just the best.
Traveling with the sisters
You know how sisters are: They can be your best friend, but there also is no person in world who could annoy you more. Since we all moved out over the past years and didn’t have to share the same bathroom anymore, we started to get along really well. But the Croatia house just had one bathroom. And the bathroom door didn’t even have a key. So, that was a little challenge.
Advantages: Sharing. We all just brought one bag of cloths, but we had three times as many outfit options, because we could exchange everything from dresses to belts or earrings.
Disadvantages: Sharing unwillingly. My sister Elena is a little kleptomaniac when it comes to my things — lotion, make-up, sun cream… nothing is safe with her. She drives me nuts sometimes.
Advantages: Having a sister at your service. Sisters function as personal photographers, outfit advisers, hair stylists, giggling-backup, and Disney-movie-quoting entertainers on long car rides.
And a grown-up family vacation
Going on a vacation with your family as a grown-up works if you turn it into a real grown-up vacation. Us girls naturally paid our share for rent and gas. We took turns in cooking dinner and making breakfast, so my mom wouldn’t have to do everything.
And I didn’t have to sneak out anymore. Anneke, Elena and me just went out for drinks at night, while our parents went for a walk. Drinking a bottle of wine at the waterfront with my sisters felt relaxed, grown-up, and totally not like 2004 anymore. And we even found someone to buy us tequila shots.
What do you think —
is it totally embarrassing that I went on a family vacation at 25?
Have you ever been on a grown-up family vacation?