A woman with long blonde hair wearing black.June is fast approaching and for road warriors with children, that likely means school’s out for summer! While we can all get excited about packing away pencils and notebooks, it also signals a different kind of packing that sounds great on the surface but may cause dread: the family vacation. What I mean is, that week-long trip is the ultimate “re-entry†experience. In my book Super Commuter Couples: Staying Together When A Job Keeps You Apart, I discuss my finding that conflict between these couples happens most often when they are reunited. Routines may have changed while apart, one or both partners may be exhausted, the road warrior may find unplugging to be a challenge, and now you add family travel in the mix and it can be more tears than smiles, but it doesn’t have to be.

  • Discuss. Have a conversation with the whole family about what type of vacation makes sense for your situation right now. A backpack camping adventure in Yosemite might look good on paper, but will all of the research and packing fall to the stay at home spouse? Does your family even like to camp? Plan something that’s right for all of you instead of a “Clark Griswold†vacation, aka well-intentioned, but poorly executed bonding time.
  • Pace yourself. The urge may be “ready, set, go†with an action-packed itinerary but again, is that what you all need? Instead, can you sprinkle in one or two down days where there are options to relax poolside and read or give the road warrior some time to connect with the kids while their spouse has some alone time to get a massage, take a yoga class, or even better, take a nap. A change in the typical parenting dynamic can translate into some quality time and lasting memories for everyone.
  • Stay home. Well, don’t really stay home but instead of a big trip involving flights or long car rides, stay closer to home and take advantage of what your city or state has to offer. This can be especially nice for the road warrior who can feel like a stranger in their own town. This “staycation” could also include a theme night of cooking together and watching a movie related to your meal, camping in the backyard, or simply catching up with neighbors or friends at a more leisurely pace. And don’t forget, a date night!

For road warrior or super commuter families, quality time connecting is important. What has your favorite “summer vacation†been and why?