1. The weeks leading up to the annual (somewhat mandatory) family vacation were filled with excitement, sure, but ultimately everyone understood that nobody was going to come out of it unscathed.
2. The unspoken golden rule of family vacations: the more family members present correlated to how miserable the trip was going to end up being.
3. Every vacation started out with you never leaving on time.
4. One person somehow always—ALWAYS—managed to forget something somewhat critical, like their toothbrush or contact solution. Your mom would react to this mistake like it was a fatal, insulting blow to how she raised you.
5. It was super shitty if you ended up sitting in the middle seat for a long car ride. Your siblings would get so many luxurious options for where they could lean their heads and close their eyes, while you got stuck staring through the windshield and listening to your Dad’s Lynyrd Skynyrd album as he screamed at traffic.
6. Ugh, the pit stops. Your brother somehow always developed a bladder the size of a thimble the moment he buckled his seatbelt. It was like some weird Pavlovian effect of being in a car with 4+ other people for more than 10 minutes.
7. But also you would always feel uncomfortable asking for a pit stop—why was it that you always needed to pee approximately 10 minutes after you just left a gas station?—so you would sit there in painful, bursting agony until someone else said something first.
8. There was no temperature that could please everyone. Two people sitting next to each other in the back seat would be sweating excessively and convulsing with chills respectively.
9. Honestly, if your sister breathed any louder or if your brother asked one more “Would You Rather” question, you were going to open the car door and throw yourself out onto the highway.
10. Your parents seemed to enjoy taking the opportunity to cram all of their spawn into the backseat of a speeding car and then take turns lecturing each child about their individual flaws.
11. If you guys were flying somewhere, your Dad would make everyone show up to the airport five hours before the boarding time.
12. Everyone paired off to gang up on one another, so if you were in a family with an odd number, odds are someone was going to unanimously be selected as the tortured target for the entire vacation. It was always you.
13. By the time you reached your destination, honestly, nobody wanted to talk to anyone anymore. And you had another five days together.
14. The whole notion of “unconditional familial love” was squashed the second it was time to get food. It was like everyone decided to behave like a Yelp Elite food critic when the time came to pick what restaurant you were going to for dinner.
15. It really wasn’t a successful family vacation if there wasn’t one meal that resulted in someone either crying in public or storming off.
16. Your Mom wanted to photograph everything that ever happened. And absolutely no one wanted their picture taken. Ever.
17. Your Dad always carried around a backpack or, like, some kind of pouch, on family vacations. And exclusively wore cargo shorts.
18. Your parents always constantly encouraged you and your siblings to eat healthy on vacation, as if it were humanly possible for one to look at a menu and see “french fries” and “free soda refills” and then actively choose not to order either.
19. Nobody wanted to sleep near your brother because he snored. Your sister once punched you in the face in her sleep. Your Dad always wanted everyone to wake up at the crack of dawn. Your Mom was “not a morning person,” which somehow translated to an excuse for why she hogged the bathroom.
20. You also thought it was totally gross that you had to share a bed, so you and your siblings would barricade the middle of the hotel beds with pillows so that there was absolutely no way you could even touch each other throughout the night.
21. Your parents treated you and your siblings making too much noise in the hotel room as a cardinal sin.
22. Therefore, when you and your siblings inevitably got into huge meltdown fights either right after waking up or right before going to bed, there was a lot of whisper-screaming going on.
22. There was something about spending every minute of every day (without any alone time) with these people that made you think, Holy shit how are we all related?
23. Whether it was for a museum or some other *~*fun family activity*~* that required tickets, you understood from the tender age of 10 that hell must be waiting in line with your entire family for something no one really wanted to do.
24. Every vacation concluded with your Dad announcing: “We’re never doing this again.”