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Annabel Aug 31st, 2004 10:56 AM

Horrible "family" trip....need advice please
Just curious.....And also need help!!

Since we just returned from the family vacation from hell, just wondering if anyone else has had the same experience. We (DH & I)traveled with my mother, my brother,his wife and their 2 kids ages 5 + 7. My mother spent most of her time obsessed with smoking and where to smoke, when her next cigarette would be...she smoked a carton in 5 days. We waited for my brother and family a minimum of 45 min per day, because they just could not get their act together - for anything and were completely unprepared, not enough clothes, no sunscreen, not enough money etc... My mother wound up taking sides, trying to cause a fight between my DH and myself...It was just a terrible, tense situation. The only problem is that we surprised my mother with a trip to Las Vegas (we did this before this horrible experience)in November (she already knows and we paid for the first class tickets) and now we do not want to take her because of her manipulative do we get out of this one??? I do not mind the $$ spent for her ticket, as it will become a credit...but after this trip, and the way she behaved..she really does not deserve a first class paid in full trip to the Bellagio. The thousands we spent on this tragedy is water under the bridge, but we really don't want another waste of money family disfunctional...:( What would you do???

Thank you!

Diana Aug 31st, 2004 11:03 AM

Ouch - that sounds like NO fun at all. Sorry it ended up so badly.

Well, since ya asked...

If you have already paid and committed to the trip for her, backing out would just cause more strife and internal "issues" imho.

Now I remember why I only had ONE beach house rental experience with my family once we kids were all grown. :)

Better luck next time and leave "The Simpsons" at home! ;)

Annabel Aug 31st, 2004 11:20 AM

Thanks for the quick response....I am still recovering from the experience - LOL!

I had an idea...we were thinking of asking my Aunt to come along as a buffer. This way mother dearest will have a buddy and not be so obsessed with us, how much we spend, drink, dress etc...

She can share the room with my mother and the 2 of them can do as they please. The only other idea I had besides this was poison:)

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest....I feel better now.

tpatricco Aug 31st, 2004 11:24 AM

Oh Annabel, what a nightmare! My sympathies! Many of us have had that one "trip from hell" with family!

I know better than to go with my SIL & her family anymore!

Chalk this one up to lessons learned.

As for the Vegas trip, I tend to agree with Diana that since it's already been gifted, you can't really take it back at this point. What you might be able to do is back out yourselves and just let her go with someone else? The $ is lost either way, but maybe you could at least save yourselves from further misery on what could be another terrible trip.

So sorry! I've been there too! Trish

TopMan Aug 31st, 2004 11:25 AM

I supoose the "buffer" idea is a good one, but only if it serves to rid you of any and ALL resentment.

But that "buffer" is not going to do a thing to change the thing you REALLY don't like..and that's the basic behavior of your relatives, specifically your Mother's "manipulative behavior."

For the long run, and as painful as it might be, I think you should sit your Mother down and explain to her what it is that you don't like AND the fact that what she did is causing you to have misgivings about any future trips...and then see how she reacts.

Buffers will only delay the inevitable and in respect to your Mother I think you OWE it to her to be honest. If she gets p.o'd, well that's unfortunate but it seems to me that SHE is the one who needs to change her behavior, not you.

TopMan Aug 31st, 2004 11:28 AM

As a follow-on to the above..if the buffer thing seems the best course, then go ahead...BUT if you aren't going to confront your Mother then I would not, under any circumstances, include her in future trips.

If you do that then prepare for the inevitable, "You never invite me to go anywhere with you anymore" rants and raves in the future.

MarionCK Aug 31st, 2004 12:04 PM


It seems like you should be writing to Dr. Phil rather than discussing your family problems on a travel board with strangers.

Maybe you just struck a chord with me, as I'm off to spend time with my dad who is in a nursing home.

I'd give anything to be able to travel with him...anywhere.

A more adult approach might be to realize that family issues or dysfunction will occur on vacation as well as at home. There is no magic solution...except to stop blaming and decide to do what you can do to make it pleasant for all.

Just my 2 cents worth...albeit unwelcome I'm sure ;-) !


Annabel Aug 31st, 2004 12:30 PM

I'm sorry to hear about your father. I lost my dad not that long ago, and I would give anything to have him back.

I have read many posts regarding family vacations, mine just happened to be a horrible experience. Just looking for friendly advice as to how to handle our next trip, which is already planned...not looking for therapy. Not everyone gets along with family members, as I have learned. Consider yourself one of the lucky ones, as not everyone shares your sentiments about family members. The only phone calls I get from my family is when they need something ie: favors, money, babysitting etc...

You are very lucky indeed.

travelright Aug 31st, 2004 01:02 PM



gail Aug 31st, 2004 01:26 PM

There have been a lot of posts here about family trips/visits - everything from staying in homes of relatives to suggested destinations for family trips. I have great admiration and quite a bit of jealousy as well for those families who do these things and enjoy it.

With both sides of our family, this is clearly not possible. While we love them dearly, vacationing together was tried once with each side of the family. We are smart enough not to repeat our mistakes, no matter how we wish the situations were different.

I can only hope your mother realizes that no one had a good time and all can find some graceful way to exit the next planned trip. No one in either of our families ever suggested repeating our vacation adventure.

You can also hope that there were too many complicated family dynamics on this trip - mother, brother, sister-in-law, kids - and that with just mother it might be better. Buffers only work if they are buffers, and do not add to the problem.

And as a last thought, at least in LV there are lots of places to smoke - eliminating that as an obsession topic. And alcohol flows freely enough to keep either you, your mother or both intoxicated enough to forget everything.

droolpatrol Aug 31st, 2004 01:27 PM

Jeez Annabel -- something you said in your post really struck a nerve with me:
" The only phone calls I get from my family is when they need something ie: favors, money, babysitting etc..."

It is time to stop that gravy train by saying no. The best way to turn down a request is to say "I'm sorry, I can't do that", and don't say anything after that. Do not offer any reasons or explanations for your refusal, as that will give the other party a "roadmap" of how to get around your refusal (I learned this strategy in one of my first jobs, from a customer service trainer, and it hasn't failed me yet). You will be met with a "why not?" to which you can answer "I'm terribly sorry but it's just not possible".

Now as far as the Vegas trip goes, you probably have an "out" if your mother complained about any aspect of the trip from which you are now recovering. Then you can say "gee mom, you seemed not to enjoy the last trip we took together, so we thought it best to cancel." Frankly interfering in my marriage, trying to cause a fight between my DH and me, is reason enough to cancel in my book. Otherwise, there is always the feigned illness excuse. Good luck and stay strong. Get Caller ID if you don't already have it and you can make yourself a little less available.

benj Aug 31st, 2004 01:55 PM

I can sympathize. She is way to old to change & probably sees no need to.
My advice is that if you feel that you HAVE to go through with the trip then line her up a man. Even if you have to pay one it would be cheap!! That might keep her distracted. Pawn her sorry butt off on someone else. Tell her each morning, "Bye, let's touch base during the the room & leave a message". Make sure you have separate & not adjoining rooms.

If you want to really give her fits when she starts to cut up just tell her , "You know Mom, why don't we check out some nice retirement homes while we're here??" Then just keep smiling & nodding but ignore whatever she says. That will puzzle her for a bit.

ScottB Aug 31st, 2004 02:35 PM

I was always raised to confront my problems head on. So I simply do it, no matter how unpleasant that may me. Be honest with yourself & your mother, period. Life is way too short to beat around the bush. How is she ever going to know she pissed you off so badly if you don't tell her straight up.

Sorry but if the last vacation was that bad, there's no way in hell I'd pay to do it all over again. Confront the problem now. Waiting, or even worse, not saying anything, just puts you through more misery. The only way problems are solved are by just plain dealing with them straight out, not figuring out ways to get around them.

Just an honest opinion...

wills Aug 31st, 2004 02:37 PM

Hi Annabel, many sympathies! (If that's a word) I had ONE trip from hell with family and that was it for me. The upshot is, everyone behaved, it was just the situation. It traumatized me for months though so I empathize. The truth is, you're stuck, so I like the aunt idea and here's a bit of my humble opinion. There's an art to saying no. You kind of have to do it and walk away before they get their dander up. Endure the requisite amount of mother time and then announce charmingly that you simply have to have some private time with your husband and you'll see them all later. (MUCH LATER). As for lateness, well that's just intolerably rude, so here's the phrase "We'll see you at. . . whenever you're ready, we really want to . . . get a seat, get a drink, get a lobotomy, whatever and then RUN! You have a right to private time with your husband just smile, state it and do it, I know it's hard but anyone with kids might appreciate having no pressure to be somewhere at a certain time. Then have a few drinks before you see mother, it is vacation after all and it is afternoon somewhere. Finally I realize that I am the anti Phil but I believe that 9/10 times airing grievances merely prolongs the agony and doesn't do any good with older people. They're set in their ways and they just resent it. MHO. Good luck.

jacketwatch Aug 31st, 2004 03:00 PM

Do you think it is possible your mom would agree with you about NOT taking another vacation together? After all I think it is reasonable to assume she had a lousy time as well and is not looking forward to doing this again. Just ask her. JM2C.

MarionCK Aug 31st, 2004 04:43 PM

I'm just curious about the ages of people responding to Annabel's original post.

I think there might be differences in perception based on age. I have read a little bit of *senior bashing* in some of these posts.

We are not all "set in our ways", and some of us find our adult children as difficult as we did when we changed their diapers, fed them food that would please, and praised their every accomplishment :-) !

Remember that your young children will observe how you treat your *aging* parents....and all children learn from example.

Marion...mother of two daughters..29 and 25 :-)

threehearts Aug 31st, 2004 06:20 PM

I don't believe age has any relevance to one's ability to be rude. Anabel, I am sorry that your trip was disappointing and no doubt painful as family situations often are. I'm often on the fence about planning a family holiday and it is posts such as yours that give me pause and delay any callls to the airlines until the alcohol clears(LOL). Good luck with your Las Vegas dilemma. Threehearts

Annabel Aug 31st, 2004 06:38 PM

Thanks everyone.....I don't feel so alone!

Just to give you some info, my mom is 64 - not old at all. My mother came up with this idea that we would get "seperate" checks for dinner, so we would not be paying for her....well that never happened. Also on the third night of vacation hell, my brother asked me to go to his house everyday for 4 days and take in his mail and feed his cat when we got home! I had given him the website for a great cat feeder and waterer (which we use for our cat all the time) and he was going to have his mail stopped. He did not do either, instead having neighbors take care of this for him. The neighbors called to tell him they were going away for a few there was nobody to do these things for him. As we were going home before him, he thought nothing of asking my husband and I to do this. Mind you it is an hour round trip....I said no, ask someone else. My mother later called me the most selfish person and I ruined the evening, and how "family" is about doing for one another. It caused a huge fight because I was deemed as selfish and no body thought it was a big deal. My husband laughed because it was the first time I said NO (and politely too) Needless to say I am never on the receiving end.......sometimes doing the "right" thing is not doing anyone any favors.

Well from reading my own posts, I figured out the solution to my own problem...If I don't do these things for them...they will have to learn to do them:)

TopMan Sep 1st, 2004 12:45 AM

Self examination never hurts and sometimes you suddenly realize the "benefits" that you may think you are getting from allowing yourself to be used and depended upon by others. It is unfortunate when those "others" take advantage of this sort of situation.

The advice based on the feeling that that your Mother is "too old" to change her ways was particularly interesting since that poster didn't even KNOW what the age is.

And you have to realize there is a huge drawback on a board like this: we always and only get ONE side of every story!

gail Sep 1st, 2004 02:40 AM

I actually would love to hear my relatives side of the story about vacations from hell (one and only time - I learned). My side is that I waited on them, catered to them, acted as if I was staff at their hotel. I know if they were ever asked, they would say we all shared the work and that I never sat and talked to them.

And I think we were ALL too old to change our ways - I was 30 at the time, they were in their 60s and our son was 1 - so we solved it by not vacationing with them again.

Vacations are incredibly stressful for even the closest and most loving families - people are not accustomed to spending 24 hours/day with anyone, even their spouse and kids. Add all sorts of old family dynamics, grudges in an unfamiliar setting and friction happens. It just does not matter who was right and wrong here - let it go and plan trips with people you will enjoy.

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