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Couples and holidays rules

Updated on September 19, 2013


Once you get to that age when you already have your own family and most probably you already want some comfort when you think about holidays and travelling ( backpacks probably are already stored away somewhere ), the idea of travelling with friends always pops up. If you already have children you figure it’s a good idea to get them together with other children so they can play and in the meantime the grown ups can also have a better time. If you don’t have children, well it’s nice to have some company and, obviously, the more, the merrier.

In the Netherlands
In the Netherlands | Source

Good idea, or...?

But holidays with friends also mean knowing them better, spending more time than you usually spend and getting used to their rhythms. Now, sometimes it’s difficult to combine the rhythms of just your own family, imagine combining the rhythms of another family along with yours, it can be challenging. So, this is always a time for discoveries about your friends. The thing is that you can find out good things or you can come to realize you are quite incompatible.

You see, some people don’t mind arriving late, some like to go with the flow, others have to stick to a schedule no matter what happens or have previously defined itineraries that they have to follow, others just want to sleep and eat and drink and forget about sightseeing… well, there are so many different kinds of people that you never know what you will get.

Surely you think, when you are deciding who will come with, that you’ll go with someone similar to you, who has similar tastes, that has similar ways of living, so it shouldn’t be a problem – you think.

But there are so many little oddities in each one of us, that there are always things that can go wrong.

I used to think that I was too demanding on people and that I wanted things my way and that was it. But I’ve come too realize, after talking to several people, that everybody wants things their way and that’s why usually holidays with friends usually turned for the worst, it’s not that the friendship is over, it’s just that there is always something that wasn’t quite what one person thought it should have been and so that person starts looking at the other with different eyes and it's never quite the same.

In the Netherlands
In the Netherlands | Source

Setting the rules

With this in mind you really should set some ground rules before you go on holidays. Better to have some rules, than to loose a friend over silly things. So, here are my advices.


Make sure to let your friends know that although you are going on holidays together you all are free to do what you feel like it and you don’t have to tag along all holidays long.

This is important because sometimes people feel, because they are going on holidays together, they have to follow each other around all the time, this may mean going to places you absolutely have no interest seeing. Some people don’t mind spending an hour or two somewhere they have no interest for, others do. Also, sometimes it’s all about what one couple wants, well the other couple may have some different ideas. Finally, perhaps going to a certain place may prevent you from actually going somewhere you really liked.

It’s okay each of you to go to different places, you can get together afterwards and you will all be much happier.


Explain before hand your basic parameters for the trip and let them know it’s alright if they have different ones and neither of you should change your settings.

Imagine you just want to sit on the beach and relax and the other couple just wants to go around and see all sort of monuments and museum they can find. Well, these are your holidays as much as they are theirs, you waited all year long for this, you are spending your money, you should do what you like, otherwise you’ll end up back at your place cursing the day… So, you can just sit on the beach, have a daiquiri and go snorkeling, while your friends check out all the museums in the neighbourhood. At the end of the day you’ll get together for dinner and talk about your different experiences – you will be happier and you’ll have much more to talk about.


People have different rhythms, even inside the same household, so you should tell your friends right away those things that are a total put off.

There are things bearable, there are things unbearable. They are different from person to person. Personally I’m totally put off by people that don’t mind the time. I think it’s a lack of respect when you are with other people. If you say you’ll be ready at 10:00, that’s when you should be ready, not at 10:05, not at 10:15 and most certainly not at 10:30. So, you should make clear what is acceptable. You can try to set some simple rules, like “If you’re not on time, we’ll go on with our business and you can meet us somewhere later.”

This sort of solution is much better than you hanging around waiting, for five, ten or thirty minutes, getting all worked up and when the others arrive (probably totally relaxed – for them it was really nothing) you are a nervous wreck and by then you don’t want anything to do with this people. The opposite can also be true. You see, it goes both ways, it just depends on the perspective.

As the example above, there are many others, it may seem, small to one person, but it can be a huge white elephant for the other and if you don’t explain your perspective, they will never know.


If there are children on either part or both, well, double the trouble.

If you have children of your own, it’s very nice to think of holidays with other couples that also have children, you always think of the wonderful time they will have and that will buy you a little extra freedom, because they are entertained and having fun, but that’s only half of it.

Children generally mimic other children’s behaviours, so if the other children, for instance, stay up much later than yours, scream and jump up and down on the bed for half an hour before they quiet down, eat lollipops all day long, never wash their hands before dinner and so on and so forth, your children will probably find all that super funny and want to do the same. You probably will not find it so funny. And probably parenting styles will clash.

If you don’t have children, well, how that will go for you, depends if you are a children’s person or not. And I won’t get into that.

About the children there is not much you can do, but try to make your children understand that never mind what others do, they have to follow your rules. Finally, you have to remember you are on holidays, so let some things slide, you’ll get around to their education again, when you are back home.

In Amsterdam
In Amsterdam | Source

Making it work

As I see it, making it work as a lot to do with the rules above, especially the first three. The main idea is to try to make it as a usual get together in your town over the weekend. If it looks like you are all family and living together, it will not go well.

Don’t have too many expectations. Look at it like, by luck, you are all going to the same place, at the same time, so you are bound to run into each other and perhaps have dinner sometimes or even look at some monuments, if not, oh, well, next time...

Make your friend realize how you feel and make sure they are okay with this view of it. If they frown and look a bit disturbed over this, you will probably get in trouble with them during the holidays.

If you sense they are that sort of people that want you to tag along with them everywhere, it's really bad news, probably they also you all must like the same things, same sightseeing tours, monuments, same sort of restaurant, etc, etc.

You can be the closest of friends but you're bound to have stuff you don't see eye to eye.

Usually this sort of forced tag along ends up with one or two unhappy, sometimes the other two even mocking " How can you not just love japanese cuisine?" or "How come you don't want to cook yourself into a lobster all day long? So, it really can't end up good, though you always learn a lot.

Basically then, if you can't get over the idea of how wonderful it would be if you and your friends went on holidays, at least bear these advices in mind and try to make the best of it.

In the Netherlands
In the Netherlands | Source

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