Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On Travel With Friends

This past weekend Mrs. LIAYF, Lukas, and I had our first experience traveling with another family. We were excited about the weekend getaway, because we were traveling with long-time friends who have a son just a few months older than Lukas. It promised an opportunity to connect at a new level, while enjoying the amenities that a regional state park had to offer.

We decided to carpool the 4-5 hour trip (each way) and share a guest house. What we didn't anticipate was the effect that rooming two toddlers not accustomed to sleeping with another person in the room would have on the mood of the trip. As it turned out, the boys ended up keeping each other up most of the two nights, resulting in six tired people.

Combine these six exhausted people with certain expectations, perhaps not in sync, about how the trip would unfold, and what you have is a recipe for tension. Add to this nice combo two tired two-year-olds who are having difficulty with the concept of sharing and playing nice on little sleep, and what unfolds is a little pushing, a little grabbing, and one bad bite at the end of a long weekend. This resulted in unhappy and protective parents on both sides. It's only natural, but admittedly took us by surprise.

So, the weekend wasn't the complete success that we had hoped for, but we did have some fun times despite the mostly unspoken tension that it brought along (think naked babies on the beach covered with sand!). And, as I mentioned, these are people who we adore and hope to spend many successful outings with as our boys grow older. It was just, as I mentioned, an unanticipated outcome to what promised to be a fun-filled weekend.

Perhaps we made a rookie mistake in having such high expectations? How about you readers? Are we alone here, or have you had similar experiences sharing accommodations and transportation with friends while your children were this young?

As for us, I think we learned a valuable lesson about expectations and travel with young children. It's certainly a much different experience than we would have expected a few years ago, and we will adjust accordingly.


Dan said...

Sometimes it's difficult going on vacation with other people with small kids, you always tend to secretly side with your own children in arguments, which tends to lead to a lot of tension as you say.

Still, better luck next time:)

Jamie K said...

Traveling can always be a source of tension. I decided that my wife was the one for me when we took a camping trip where everything went wrong (weather, food, supplies) and we still both had a great time.

That being said, as the kids get older, it'll be nice for them to have a play partner on vacation. I'd suggest some sleepovers with the other toddler before doing the next trip, so it's not as novel a situation.

DGB said...

Having just taken a family vacation, I understand completely.

James (SeattleDad) said...

@Dan - Yeah, that certainly rings true. My approach is to learn a little something from every experience. Surprising I don't know more.

@Jamie - Good advice, thanks. Same with my wife and I. We can get along on the most stressful occasions. We are good together.

@Daddy Geek Boy - Shaking head...

Lady Mama said...

Oh that would be hard. Sleep deprivation really adds to the general tension. I haven't attempted a vacation with friends yet - to be honest (as much as I love my friends and their kids) it doesn't appeal.
The thought of vacationing anywhere with both kids makes me nervous.

At least now you know what might work better next time?

James (SeattleDad) said...

@Lady Mama - yeah, when they are this young it makes it tough to enjoy. We will probably wait until he is a bit older to try this type of trip again.

SciFi Dad said...

Personally, I'd never be able to share accommodations with another family... my wife and daughter are such light sleepers that it'd never work.

I expect if you didn't share sleeping quarters things would have been different.

SciFi Dad said...
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Being us... said...

We actually tried almost the same thing back in the fall (except the other family had older children). We each got our own cabin and even then it was difficult getting Jacob to sleep through the night. Add in that Paul and I were forced to share a double bed when used to a queen and we instantly decided to put off any other such "events" until Jacob was older. Even though you are accustomed to Lukas's schedule the whole vacation thing I think takes years to get back on track! Good luck with the next one it will be a few more years before we try again especially with the new baby coming soon!

Anonymous said...

We did a big family vacation last year (10 of us) and we set some ground rules right from the start. The main one being that we would all have our own space. It means there is somewhere to take your own kids and retreat for a little while - even if it's a single hotel room! We would arrange meet up times and spend all day together but we always had that little bit of down time away from the crowd. It worked beautifully!

KatBouska said...

We've taken our kids to Hawaii three different times and every time they were under the age of two.

It wasn't fun. I think when the kids get older it will be a little more enjoyable.

Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

It is certainly to be expected, when you put two families with small children together. It gets easier as they get older and used to traveling, but you also have to accept that it is never going to be as relaxing as you would like it to be, lol.

James (SeattleDad) said...

@Scifi - We are all light sleepers too. I supose you are right about that.

@Being Us - I agree. We will be waiting quite a while before trying something like this again too.

@Penelope - That sounds like a much smarter way to approach a family or friends vacation. Next time.

Mama Kat - Vacations are supposed to be fun. It shouldn't be a relief to get back to work.

@Petra - We certainly expect it now. lol. I'm sure it will be easier as he gets older but we are a bit gun shy about trying again. For a while at least.