Friction over family trip


This year, my family is planning to visit my mother's parents for Christmas. This is all well and good, but there are problems.
We live in Philadelphia and they live in Tallahassee. In the past we visited them by driving from here to there all in one day. My older sister doesn't like this and now wants to either take two days driving each way or (preferably) fly.
My dad say that since it would cost so much money to fly, he wants to squeeze the value out of every penny and spend a few additional days in another southern city (He suggests New Orleans) because it really wouldn't cost a lot more to go to Tallahassee and another city than it would to got to just Tallahassee. (I should note that if we were visiting someone on his side of the family, he would be more likely to see the trip as well worth it and less likely to tack on the extra days.)
Whether we take the extra day driving or fly and go the the other city, the whole trip will take about a week. My younger sister doesn't want to spend a week away from home because that week happens to be the only week of her Christmas break that aligns with the Christmas breaks of her friends, whom she like to see.
My mom just wants to see her parents.
While I can understand where everyone is coming from, most of their concerns don't really apply to me. While I don't like doing the whole drive in one go, I can handle it. While I would like to see New Orleans, I really don't think that low marginal costs are an adequate reason to add it to the trip. While I would like to spend less time away from home and let my sister see her friends, I really can't think of a way to shorten the trip without upsetting my dad (who will be grumpy) or my older sister.
I'm in a position of awkward neutrality and I can't really choose between any of the plans without ruining the trip for somebody. Anybody have suggestions?


yes. let this one work itself (or fight itself out.)

whenever any of your family memebers complains about some aspect of the trip, you say, “the ONE negative thing i can see about this trip is how it affects you negatively.”

just keep saying it whenever anyone complains.


As Abraham Lincoln once said, “If you have caught an elephant by his hind leg, it is best to let him go.” In other words, I would let this argument play itself out without me. If someone presses you, you might express something vague and slightly nutty, such as “The journey is more important than the destination.” If they seem slightly baffled, tell them that Winston Churchill said it first. They’ll probably leave you alone after that.


Your story is one that reminds one of the Grizwells. But, the movie is so much fun; showing a family trying to take a trip with teenagers … I never tire of watching them. Any of these travel movies with family, I guess, even Lucy and Desi with their trailer on their Honeymoon, the road shows with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby …

Anyway, your sister needs to get with the family for this one. Noone can or would enjoy choosing friends over family for Christmas, in close-knit families such as yours surely is.

I would hesitate with the thoughts, mostly vocalizing them; re … your father’s preferences. I know that he loves your mom’s family.

My brother’s family is always flying or driving somewhere far for a vacation. I am not privy to the experience, but, see the photos afterwards, which seem rather harried or hurried.

Christmas in Tallahassee doesn’t sound terribly exciting per se, if you think culturally. I don’t know; no snow for instance. There must be something that makes it wonderful, besides the family get together, which could be really great depending on the celebrations and effort put into it by everyone to love each other. Schedule a concert or show in their somewhere? Driving from one town to another takes a lot of time and energy. Does grandma and gramps come along?

I.e. I would encourage the flight and discourage the extra jaunt. Encourage the sister to honor her parent’s wishes. Your Father, if he is like my Father, is very wise. Sometimes things have to go the way of one parent rather than the other, and, that is what makes for a long married life, as my folks would say. Refocus on enjoying the trip to see your grandparents, maybe cousins? Probably not if it is a retiree community. I guess, because of the location, touristry Christmas celebrations to Disneyland, etc. are off? I can’t imagine New Orleans being anything other than a mess.

I pray that your Christmas will be a blessed and joyful one for all of your family. Your sister, unless there is some rather high society events, can keep in touch with her friends’ activities in the usual modern way in her private times.


the reason for the trip is to get to Talahassee so your mom can see her parents. So the planning should facilitate that purpose. It may be you and your mom will have to fly down together and leave the others at home, or on their own vacation, if the rest of the family does not care for her needs and wishes enough to consider them.


You don’t all have to go at the same time and in the same way, right? Could some of you drive down in one day, some in two days, and some of you fly? Unless you and your sisters are teenagers still living with mom and dad, you could all go seperately.


Popping over to New Orleans, “another southern city”, adds another 400 miles (5 to 6 hours) to the trip. I think you will be plenty tired before then.

I suggest that if you drive and want to see other places, choosing cities that are at least along the route or not out of the way would make it more tolerable and probably more interesting.


Maybe mom &dad want some time for their marriage; the grandparents having time with you and your sister by you remaining with you grandparents ... Telling you part but not all of his dream. Try to find that out, or just add that to your store of wisdom.

[quote="lutherlic, post:7, topic:214078"]
Popping over to New Orleans, "another southern city", adds another 400 miles (5 to 6 hours) to the trip. I think you will be plenty tired before then.

I suggest that if you drive and want to see other places, choosing cities that are at least along the route or not out of the way would make it more tolerable and probably more interesting.



[quote="lutherlic, post:7, topic:214078"]
Popping over to New Orleans, "another southern city", adds another 400 miles (5 to 6 hours) to the trip. I think you will be plenty tired before then.

I suggest that if you drive and want to see other places, choosing cities that are at least along the route or not out of the way would make it more tolerable and probably more interesting.


I was just going to say New Orleans is not an easy trip to make from Tallahassee. If you fly, wouldn't you have to rent a car to drive to some place that far away and doesn't that kinda defeat the whole purpose of saving money? Have you actually checked out the costs to fly compared to driving? Check out Orbitz and other value travel sites and see what you can come up with.

But really this should be your mom planning the trip and her preferences. Unless your sister is footing the bill, her say so and her preferences should be secondary to what your parents want.


[quote="Charlotte1776, post:6, topic:214078"]
You don't all have to go at the same time and in the same way, right? Could some of you drive down in one day, some in two days, and some of you fly? Unless you and your sisters are teenagers still living with mom and dad, you could all go seperately.


Wouldn't that be a lot of extra money though (double the gas, plus an airplane ticket)?

I would stay out of it too. Maybe mom will be happy with dad's idea to add a little sightseeing to the trip so its a win-win for both of them? I don't blame your sister for wanting a 2 day trip, we have done the 1 day drive many hours thing (and Philly to Tally is a long ways) and it usually takes me a while to recoup from that (although its usually been tied into morning sickness for me), and if you guys are only spending a few days with your grandparents anyways, might as well try to make them well rested ones... New Orleans is on the other side of Tallahassee, though...I think almost 6 hours away, not sure how much it would add to your trip, but maybe you could look into and suggest another stopping point that would meet your dad's interest and help the trip be easier on your older sister?
I have no idea how old your youngest sister is and if it would be ok for her to do this, but if she is willing to come up with the $ for flying and meeting you guys in Tallahassee the day you arrive and leave around when you leave, maybe she could do that to see her friends, I personally feel family trumps friends during the holidays, and if I was the mom in the group I would be more interested in making dad happy than making sure little sister gets to hang out with friends :).

ETA: Ok I see most of my points have been made by previous posters lol.


Try closer to 7 hours; I live in between, and it’s a rock bottom minimum of 4.5 hours to where I live from Tallahassee (direct line) and another 2.5 to New Orleans. As you said, hardly a “popping over” situation.

Savannah, Charleston, or even St. Augustine would be better choices, if the dad insists on seeing somewhere else. The first two are right along the route and are lovely, and if they chose St. Augustine (a charming, historic old city) they could drive there and then scoot up I-95, heading home.

It seems to me that after such a long drive from Philly to Tallahassee, I wouldn’t want to drive ANYWHERE else until I absolutely had to!!!


Thanks for the responses so far guys.:thumbsup:

Looking at what everyone said, the most common responses seem to be stay out of it, go separately and skip New Orleans (either entirely or in favor of a closer city). The first was what I was planning on from the beginning, but it still feels uncomfortable. I know right off the bat the my dad would flat out reject the second suggestion as too much of a hassle. (Everything’s a hassle unless it’s his idea.) For the third one, I might be able to convince my dad to go to another city, but it’s not likely that I can convince him to drop it altogether.

Clarifications and additional information:
From reading the responses I got the feeling that some of you think that I only have one sister. I have the older one who wants to fly, henceforth called Audrey, and the younger one who wants a short trip, henceforth called June. Audrey is twenty-three, I am twenty and June is almost nineteen. We all live at home, but I think that we all have enough money to afford airplane tickets on our own if we wanted (and were allowed) to buy them.

Audrey is being just as stubborn as Dad and June. If she hadn’t rejected a single-day drive, we wouldn’t be having this problem.

There’s also something I should have mentioned earlier, which will probably affect how you see June’s part of this. My grandmother has severe Alzheimer’s. Mom and June went to visit her over the summer and seeing grandmother that way made June feel depressed. June doesn’t not want to go solely because it would take time away from her friends (an impression I wrongly gave you), but also because the whole thing would make her very sad.


Hi Gia,
Thanks for the clarifications.

I can relate, as we have had some family scuffles around “family reunion” types of trips where we are trying to get all of Grandma & Grandpas kids, grandkids and great-grandkids together.

Someone is ALWAYS unhappy.

Often, the teenagers are less than ecstatic about spending a week with their boring families, LOL.

As to June, I can totally understand that it is upsetting to her to see Grandma in such a state – but I would ask her how she would feel if this was the last time she ever say Grandma alive, and she was rushing out the door to get home to see her girlfriends?

You girls are fortunate to still have your Grandparents – I lost all mine by the time I was 10 – please take the time to visit with them, you never know when they will be called home to God. Maybe that’s a bit of a downer, but it’s the truth.

I think you should try to rally the girls around your mom – it’s got to be even MORE difficult for her than for June. It’s her Mom. She needs her daughter’s support for sure.

As to your dad – of he gets antsy at the thought of a week cooped up with his ailing in-laws, well perhaps you guys could plan some outings? There’s GOT to be something fun to do in the immediate area.


My neighbor’s mom has alzheimer’s but, she has her at home despite the severity of it. Her father has just died. When she takes her a walk around the block, her mother’s expression is of fear. My Godmother, on the other hand, has mild alzheimer’s, but, was put into a nursing home because of it. My parents are over 90 years of age, and I enjoy being with them. Playing scrabble with mom, picking out books for her to read, helping Dad with his money or his use of new technology. He does dishes! We take walks every day together, and you can imagine how many people say, I see you and your Dad walking together! I just tell them that I love them, a lot. I hug them, and help them. June maybe doesn’t like to have someone who doesn’t understand her at first, or who needs to have things repeated. I agree with St. Jude poster about seeing the grandparents. There are many in my family who are missing out on these dear sweet folks, and their wisdom. I’ve been just noticing and realizing my Dad acting like a kid; it reminds me of our kiddishness as children. For example, walking around the house with a sandwich. I wonder where the line is drawn, and how it is ascertained that one has alzheimers rather than just being totally relaxed and happy to be still alive at age 80 and 90. But, not able to do everything that they did when they were younger! I get the temper tantrums too, just not crazy about mentioning that part. It is me against them sometimes, then I want to find someone to talk to or give up, but, believe it or not, I win a lot of battles. I actually email my aunt who is in her late 80s who shops for a blind couple (see video on Internet) and visit another aunt in her late 80s, whose son and dil moved in and yeah, there are disagreements sometimes in that household … I know that those who are put in their nursing home, are enduring their family in quite a sadder way - simply lonesomeness - one was left with his big screen Tv and his bed and lazy boy. My Godmother had her spindle bed and knicknacks, jewelry case, and they took that stuff away from her, then. At least she is somewhere, we think not nearby, but somewhere where she is getting more private care. The ones who can remain at home are rather spoiled maybe, but deservedly so. … My cousin, first to my Dad, inherited a farm, because he endured a neighbor woman’s temperament in her old age. Her kids were fine with their mom’s decision to will the farm to him because he took care of her!

I want to add that I think that Our Parishes should consider looping technology for hearing aids. My Dad’s main problem is not hearing the homilies and readings, and, there are not enough devices. I feel for you guys. Parkinsons is something too. My uncle, I couldn’t believe how he suffered with it some years back.


I will be really honest here. I find it very odd that Audrey expressing she does not want to drive in 1 day has actually been heard but June’s saying she does not want to go is being totally dismissed. Both June and Audrey are adults and have equal say. I also find it very odd that at 19, June is not allowed to stay home alone. And lastly, I find it odd that you can not use your money to buy a ticker. Unless there is something I am missing, it sounds like your parents are still treating you guys like teenagers. On the other hand, it is their roof so they can make house rules. But this in my opinion falls out of the scope of house rules.

So… I can understand June not wanting to go. Again my opinion. If June never sees her grandmother again and God calls her grandmother, for all we know, June will be thinking ‘Thank God I never saw up close all her suffering’. If June thinks ‘How could I have been so cruel as to not visit her last Christmass’, June is learning what it is to be an adult and live with the consequences of her decisions. Totally healthy

In my experience, when someone looses a loved one and ‘wishes they could have seen them one last time’ it is an expression of grief not of real regret. They probably saw them the day before and wished they had stayed an extra 10 minutes



I drive down to Melbourne, Florida – starting from Montclair, NJ – see my mom 2x each year…around July because it’s her birthday…and between Christmas and New Years Day. I do it in 2 hops, stopping overnight at the Residence Inn in Fayetteville, NC. Their rooms are really nice, and their free breakfast is world class! Also, Residence Inn is the only hotel chain that offers 2-bedroom suites.

They work out to just about equal driving time – Montclair to Fayetteville, and Fayetteville to Melbourne the next day.

Here is their web site:


Having dealt with family that had alzheimer's I can understand the difficulty but perhaps your sisters need to focus on something other than themselves. Your mother must also be very sad about the health of her mother and not close enough to see her more often. When my mother - in - law passed away my husband and I had no regrets ("I wish I did more for mom, should have seen her more") because we did the best we could and gave as much time as we could ( sometimes more than we could). We tried to see the light and joy and often the humour in the visits, although that usually came later when we were at home and able to step back and not allow the nasty comments and difficult behavavious to be so hurtful.

A great book "Mother I'm Doing The Best I Can" by Len Fabiano really helped us. We learned techniques to death with the MIL and keep our sanity.

Remind your sisters that the time left with your Grandmother is limited and your mother is hurting too nad my heart would be breaking to see my mother in that condition. Try to find the joy. Can you bring out the photo albums and go over family memories with your Grandmother, do an activity she enjoyed as a younger woman?

As for the trip, why don't you and your sisters pay for a hotel room for yourselves and a separate one for your parents on the way to your Grandmother's - making it a 2 day trip with a bit of time to see a pretty city on the way and do a straight drive home after the visit? Your parents might appreciate the thoughtfulness and privacy.

God Bless your family this Christmas and try to make it a joyful one - remembering that the focus is Christ and love - not our individual needs and wants


Tallahassee is mentioned as a location for a woman who is studying the life of a minor English poetess in “Possession” by A. S. Byatt.

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