How to Share a Vacation when You Have Different Interests

Planning a vacation with the one(s) you love can pose both a wonderful opportunity and a stressful situation if everyone going on the trip has a different agenda. Whether it’s just the two of you or the entire family, finding a mutually-agreed upon destination can be difficult if everyone has diverse interests and hopes to glean something unique from the getaway. If you're trying to plan a vacation for a group with diverging interests, take a few considerations into account during the planning stages and while you're on holiday.


Choose a destination that provides at least a few activities that you both (or all) will enjoy. It won’t end up being a good vacation where only one person is having all the fun while the others feel left out and bored. Find a destination that provides at least one or two activities to please everyone who is going. To do this, it's recommended that you:
Take a poll of different destinations. Have each family member make destination suggestions and reasons why each destination is desirable. In addition to stating why you’d like to visit this destination, have realistic reasons why everyone else would have a good time too.
Have each family member determine what they could do at each destination being considered. For example, if your husband wants to take a ski trip, but you don’t ski, consider what would be appealing to you about the trip, such as ice skating, outdoor hot tubing, or a visiting the resort spa. It might also be as simple as taking the opportunity to have a rest and catch up on some reading, writing or ideas-storming. Whatever it is, they must be alternatives that you're comfortable with.

Make a list of activities you’d like to do while on vacation. Each family member should do the same. If the goal is relaxation, for example, list how you’d like to relax––on a beach, in a spa or laying poolside on a cruise ship, for instance. If another family member wants non-stop action, have them list their preferences. That way, you'll all be able to come together at the end and see if all the differences can be accommodated in one go.
List the activities you’d consider trying with your family. In addition to naming what you’d like to do, make a list of activities the entire family could do together. Even if the activity is “head to the beach,” list everything you could do as a family that would make everyone happy.
Research other activities or attractions that no one in the family has tried but could possibly enjoy. Think outside the box and do some digging about each nominated destination. Perhaps you didn’t realize that you could go zip lining during your Alaskan cruise or swimming with the dolphins in the Florida Keys.
Make sure that the budget stretches far enough to accommodate everyone's individual interests. Sometimes this may mean you miss out on share or group discounts but it can also mean that the activities are cheaper if some are doing cheaper things than others (it all evens out). Be wary of spiraling costs if everyone is doing expensive activities!

Vote for and choose a destination. Based on each list and the widest possible choices being open to each person going on the vacation, decide on the best destination for everyone. Create a list of the top five or even 10 destinations and hold a democratic vote. If it’s just you and your spouse going away, choose a location you can both agree upon.
Make sure everyone compromises. Don’t choose the destination that is heavily skewed in one direction. Make sure everyone has to give up something in order to arrive at a mutually agreed upon location.
Ensure that everyone in the family can accomplish at least one activity or attraction at this destination. For example, if you end up going to a theme park, make sure it’s not just about rides and more rides if mom just wanted to relax in the spa. Make sure a spa is nearby so mom can have her fun too.
Consider accommodations that meets everyone’s needs. For example, if you end up going to Disney but mom or dad were hoping to hit the golf course, consider staying at a hotel that is either located on or near the greens.

Plot activities you’d like to accomplish while on vacation. If the number one priority is “relax and read,” block out times during the day where you'll only be laying around reading a good book. Ensure that each person going is clear that the times blocked out are "untouchable" and must be honored as that person's choice for the day or time allotted.
Compare lists with other family members to schedule or determine when activities will be accomplished. If multiple family members will be going on this trip, you’ll need to coordinate what you want to do as compared to what they want to accomplish. In many cases, you may all have the same activities written down, which will make scheduling a breeze.
Discuss and even create a schedule loosely based on your activities list. While going on holiday usually means throwing the schedule book away and letting the day take you where it will, you may need to do a little planning if everyone has a different agenda, especially if you want to meet up at specific times. Consider making a rough schedule; this is also important if some of the activities require reservations that need to be made ahead of time.

Work on doing something together at least once every day during vacation.Going on vacation together is suggestive that you must spend at least some of the time together. While it’s fine to wander off and pursue other interests while traveling as a family or couple, remember that if you're taking a family or couple's vacation, being together should be a top priority.
Plan a mutually interesting activity every day. Even if your activity is that you meet for dinner every evening, followed by a stroll on the beach, make sure that you come together as a family every single day.
Plan your separate activities to occur at the same time. If your spouse wants to learn scuba diving, but you want to go hiking, plan your scuba and hiking adventure during the same time of day. That way, no one is just hanging around waiting for the other person to finish his or her activity.

Be ready to allay concerns that might arise during the vacation. Spending time apart on vacation may cause some friction or upsets on occasion if care isn't taken with the approach to undertaking separate activities. If one person really wants another to accompany him or her for a particular event or activity, it is important to consider compromising. There are times when experiences are best shared and enjoyed together rather than being alone, even if it is just about watching the other person achieve their first ever bungee jump.
Clarity on sharing experiences in advance is as important as clarity on wanting individual experiences. Be prepared to make sacrifices and play a supporting role for some of the trip; in turn, expect this of the others accompanying you too.
Evenings can be a great time for everyone to share one activity, such as seeing a movie, going bowling, visiting an evening exhibition, having a drink together, etc.

Debrief at the end of each day. It's nice to catch up at mealtime or in the evenings and talk about who did what for the day. This may even be a time of convincing others to come along and try the same activity if they realize how much fun it is and what they're missing out on. Be sure to share all the details and to let others know they're welcome to come along the next day!

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