Dear Snarky – How Do I Get Out of a Family Vacation Tradition That Sucks

Dear Snarky,

I’m ashamed to admit this but the pandemic had a serious upside for my husband and I and it was that we didn’t have to see his extended family. For some reason my husband’s family has always felt the need to do everything together.

The absolute worst is the yearly family vacation. More than 50 relatives all travel together to an agreed upon destination and spend a week in very close contact. It’s miserable.

Families are crammed together in rented vacation homes or condos and every meal has already been decided down to who is cooking what. The sleeping arrangements are also questionable.

In 2019 my husband and I (who don’t have children yet) had to share a room with an infant and two preschoolers. We had a bed, the infant was in a Pack N Play and the preschoolers were in sleeping bags. I wanted to scream the entire “vacation.” Then there’s the problem that because we don’t have kids we get roped into being babysitters or the person assigned to looking after the 80+ set.

We’ve just received the details on this year’s family vacation and I’m already having an anxiety attack. It’s to some lower tier beach destination and we’ll be sharing a room with two elderly aunts. I’ve also got a chore chart and, of course, as usual, the men don’t do any of the cooking and cleaning.

Any thoughts on how I can get out of this? My husband and I work hard and we don’t want to spend our money or precious vacation time with 50 of his closest family members.

Signed, Enough

Dear Enough,

This is easy – just say no. As in “no we won’t be taking part in the family vacation this year.” Don’t add a “sorry we can’t go” or even a “we’re so disappointed” just hold fast to a firm NO. Good lord woman you are an adult with free will and no one can you make you do something you don’t want to do.

I get it – families have the power to incite swirling winds of guilt that can permeate any decision-making process. Add in that you’re dealing with your husband’s family and that can up the guilt ante. But this whole vacation scenario sounds all kinds of ghastly, basically you had me at the chore chart.

That’s not to say a lot of family members may love the thrill of a chore chart and babysitting on their vacay but that doesn’t mean you have to, and you have a right as a human to take a hard pass. Will there be repercussions? Definitely.

I’m sure some family members will express their disappointment in various ways (some aggressive and some passive aggressive) but you just need to embrace the NO. Please note that for the no to work your husband has to be unwavering in the no and not succumb to family pressures. This is a team no. (Honestly, if my husband didn’t back me on this I would begin divorce proceedings. But that’s just me.)

I’m also going to hypothesize that after you say no some other relatives may also find their voice and say, “Oh yeah we can’t make it either.” In fact, you could be initiating a liberation for a lot of family members.

Good luck!

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