“We’re not lost. It’s just around the corner.”
‘This is just about the best cardio I’ve had all year,’ you tell yourself, attempting to stay upbeat, but you can’t wait to get your hands around your brother’s neck. He’s been trying to convince everyone for the past hour that the new app he’s created with his slacker neighbour is just as good for navigating as Google Maps, but you’re pretty sure you walked past the turn to the villa thirty minutes ago. It’s a shame though that your aunt wants to give your brother a chance despite your husband’s protests. Meanwhile, your cousin looks like she’s having a stroke, and your dad might just pass out from exhaustion as he carries around two staggeringly large bags of shopping that he refuses to pass off to anyone else.
It’s a particularly hot Bali day, you are stuck kilometres away from the villa because your mother decided that she didn’t want to pay the petrol costs for the villa’s car (even though it costs next to nothing and she is always driving back home), and your ‘little’ group of thirteen (that started as fourteen) are all desperate for a shower. How did you end up on another family holiday?
Here’s how to survive the five stages of grief that inevitably arise during a family trip.
Denial: It’s a free holiday. It can’t be that bad.
You love your family, so what could be better than a luxury holiday in the Island of the Gods, complete with a fabulous villa on the beach? Moreover, it’s completely free, thanks to your parents’ bank accounts.
Pro tip: Keep telling yourself this. The longer you stay in this stage, the better.
Anger: Just pick something already!
It’s a family holiday, which, of course, means that you must do everything as a family. Unfortunately, no one can decide on one thing to do, and as much as you wave the villa directory, with all the must-do activities listed, in their faces, no one seems to care about your opinion.
Pro tip: Storm off and get the villa staff to sneak you more wine. It’ll dull the rage and make everyone seem all the kinder. Once you’re ready, give the concierge team a call. Maybe the rest of the family will listen to them.
Bargaining: If you just get me off this boat…
Your parents insist on going deep sea fishing as a group, but this idea easily bores you and you would much rather go surfing. You acquiesce because everyone else finally agreed on something.
You hop onto the boat only to find that your brother is still upset that no one trusted his new app’s navigation skills and that you eventually had to lead everyone to safety.
It’s a three-hour tour, and you’re not going to be able to endure his bruised ego for that long. You promise yourself you will never correct your brother ever again if you can just get off this boat right now.
Pro tip: Have the concierge team go ahead and book a tour with snorkelling gear on board. That way, you can sneak overboard and do something a bit more your speed.
Depression: Why even eat?
You’re on holiday. There is plenty of beautiful food around and someone else to pay the bill. You should be elated. Unfortunately, you’ve just gone through the effort of spending an hour trying to keep your family together for long enough to find the one specific restaurant your villa manager recommended, only for your uncle’s meal to come out first and for him to decide that the fish doesn’t smell right – yes, fresh from the sea vs. frozen and microwaved smells different. He’s threatening to send everyone’s food back to the kitchen. You put your head down on the table and wonder why you even thought eating as a family would be a good idea.
Pro tip: Call back to the villa and see if you can arrange a last-minute meal at the villa courtesy of your private chef.
Acceptance: It’s a free holiday…
You love your family, you really do. They paid for everything, and at the end of the day, you’re going home full of memories a la Jack Whitehall’s ‘Travels with my Father’. Now for a real holiday…
Pro tip: Hold onto the good, and next time maybe stay at your own villa – you know, one just down the road, but not really.