Summer. That magical time off from college when you can finally catch your breath.
Of course, summer is also the time most students go home, which results in their parents wanting to take the two words many college kids really don't want to hear: (a) family vacation.
You've gotten used to having your own life, being on your own schedule, not answering to anyone, and being independent. A family vacation is pretty much the exact opposite of that and can either be the worst experience ever or be surprisingly and unexpectedly awesome (which also depends on where you go).
Here is an end of summer family vacation "survival guide," if you will.
Firstly, embrace the horror.
You're not with your family all the time anymore (yay college!) so just embrace the fact that you're probably going to feel embarrassed, lame, and other negative feelings while hanging out with them in public as something is sure to happen that makes you want to just shout "I'm not with these people; I don't even know them!"
That's not to say that you don't love your family, but it can be hard to transition back to being really in the family, especially if you go away to school. A family vacation on top of that puts you all in a different setting, cramped quarters, and usually leads to discrepancies between what everyone wants to do and when.
The age differences between you and your siblings (if you have them) can also impact how your family vacation is going to go as that then leads to having to do family-friendly activities with an emphasis on stuff that younger kids would enjoy or on you feeling like you're in that awkward in-between stage where you're too young to do some things and too old to want to do other stuff.
A second step to surviving your family vacation is to load up your smartphone, iPod, laptop, etc. with lots of music, movies, TV shows, and other things to do so you have entertainment when you want some alone time or when you want to tune everyone else out.
Also, paperbacks or ebooks will help you escape the family drama or at least distract you while you're en route to your destination or when you're wherever you're going and want to just relax with a solo activity.
However, just because you have the means to withdraw from your family while on vacation doesn't mean you should have your nose in your phone, laptop, book, etc. the whole time, which brings us to rule number three of surviving family vacations: be present.
A family vacation is a time to bond with your family, to tell stories and reminisce, to take pictures (and lots of selfies), and to make new memories. Don't spend the whole vacation texting your friends and tweeting SOS's to your followers; communicate instead with your family and spend some time unplugged.
A fourth stage in surviving your family vacation is to look at the whole experience and whatever happens as great fodder for when you eventually write your memoirs; see the humor in everything.
Think your parents' texts are hilarious? Just wait until you spend a week with dear old Mom and Dad and get to hear firsthand the things that leave their mouths, as well as any other family members traveling with you.
Rather than pretending not to know your family because of your Dad's severely clashing outfit and the ridiculous floppy hat and mom-style jean cutoffs your Mom's sporting, take a picture and share the hilarity with others at home and on vacation with you.
If you appreciate the funny things your family does rather than letting them embarrass you, you may end up having fun laughing at, I mean, with, your family.
A fifth way to get through your family vacay is to avoid fighting. This is, of course, easier said than done.
Put a bunch of people in close quarters for more than a few days and flare-ups are bound to occur. You may even find yourself reverting back to five-year-old sayings like "she's touching me" or "Mom, he's not listening to me."
Try not to sweat the small stuff and avoid conflict by staying positive and focusing on the fact that you're with your family taking a vacation together. Be conscious of the limited room whether it's in the car, plane, hotel, etc. and be patient.
Getting into a fight with a parent or sibling can really put a strain on the vacation not only for the ones arguing or holding a grudge, but for the whole family as well.
Lastly, under no circumstances are there to be matching T-shirts. Lots of family reunions and families on vacation like to get matching T-shirts to make it easy to spot others in their party but wearing one is something most college kids won't do to survive a family vacation.
And that's legitimate because matching tees is where we draw the line.