If you thought putting your best foot forward when meeting your partner's parents for the first time was important, get ready to take things to a whole new level when you join in on the family getaway. While that original meeting may have given you the opportunity to make a great first impression, being a guest on your partner’s family vacation is actually a lot more meaningful, as Diana Dorell, intuitive dating coach and author of The Dating Mirror: Trust Again, Love Again, tells Elite Daily. "The fact that they have invited you to be part of a family vacation says a lot," she says. "Essentially, they are seeing how you mesh as being 'part of the family,' and how you are received and conduct yourself will play a part in how their family views you and how they see you as a part of their future."
OK, deep breaths. All of this may sound like a ton of pressure, but here's the good news: It's actually not that difficult to be a good guest and make a great impression on bae’s family, even while traveling. Basically, it just comes down to being polite, staying respectful, and having a positive attitude. Here is how the experts say to be on your very best first family vacay behavior.
1. Discuss Their Family's Expectations With Your Partner Beforehand
If you're nervous about going on vacation with your partner's family, don't overlook your greatest resource: your partner. “Talk with your partner before you go on vacation with them and their family, and ask about what everyone's expectations are when they are on vacation,” Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent couples' therapist in Los Angeles, tells Elite Daily. He adds that letting your partner know your concerns can also help alleviate some of the anxiety. “Certainly convey to your partner what your own needs may be. It's completely understandable that you may feel anxious and excited all at the same time. Keep talking during the vacation. Checking in with each other is going to be helpful,” he recommends.
2. Go With The Flow
Traveling under any circumstances can be stressful. There are crowds, traffic, and airport security lines to deal with, and that's before the vacation even really gets started. You can set everyone else at ease, however, and make a great impression by keeping a relaxed attitude, as life coach Nina Rubin tells Elite Daily. “It’s important to be an easy-going, polite guest on your partner’s family vacation," she says. "This means that if you’re lucky enough to be invited, be gracious. Use your best go-with-the-flow attitude.”
This includes being a good sport at times when the actives may not be your ideal vision of a vacation. “You may not want to do everything on the agenda, but make the best of it and enjoy the experience,” says Dorell. “Go with the flow and recognize that this is different than you and your partner planning your own vacation,” she explains. “If there is something that makes you uncomfortable, you can certainly express that or opt-out, though!”
3. Be A Helpful Guest
If you want to be a good guest, whether that's in someone's home or on vacation, it's great to offer to pitch in and be helpful. It’s respectful and shows your gratitude for being included. “Offer to help with something. It could be meal preparation. Perhaps helping an elderly family member or watching young children,” suggests Dr. Brown.
“If you see a family member struggling, offer support or a smile. Be the person you’d what to travel with,” adds Rubin. Being your own ideal travel companion is a good guiding principle in general, the experts agree.
4. Be Gracious And Grateful
In addition to being helpful, it's also a good idea to be gracious about receiving the family's generosity, says Dr. Brown. “If they are paying for the vacation, make it a point to thank them. There's nothing like a true expression of gratitude to make [their] family feel appreciated and valued,” he explains.
It's also a really nice to touch to send a thank you note when you get home, says Rubin.
5. Be Present And Pleasant
Most of all, the experts say to keep a positive attitude and remain present on the trip. “Spend time with your partner's family. Spend much less time on electronic devices,” Dr. Brown advises.
Don't forget to be punctual, adds Rubin. “Don’t make the family wait for you or be moody! If you need coffee in the morning, don’t make the family wait for you. Be responsible for yourself and gracious for their gift,” she concludes.
Being a great guest on your partner’s family vacation ultimately comes down to being the kind of guest you would want on yours: respectful, fun, and easygoing. When in doubt, check in with your SO to make sure you're on the right track. Otherwise, just enjoy yourself and the chance to get to know the people in your partner's life who mean the most to them.
Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent couples therapist in Los Angeles.
Nina Rubin, a life coach.