1. Pretend your neocon father is Stephen Colbert.
Got parents with political views that conflict with your own? Put differently, got a dad who calls himself a neocon? Since you’ll be spending every hour of the next week with your parents, your hypothetical neocon dad is bound to hurl his beliefs at you—beliefs that you’ve been told, by John Stewart and Rachel Maddow, are outlandish and sometimes bigoted. To listen to your hypothetical neocon dad without losing your cool, here’s a solution: pretend he’s pulling a Stephen Colbert, a pretend-Republican, a devil’s-advocate-just-for-the-hell-of-it routine. Then, everything he says ends up being kind of funny and won’t pierce your soul in a way that he would have had he been serious.
2. Pretend emotional mom got something caught in her eye.
Obviously moms can be an emotional lot. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I too will be an emotional mom. But so long as my vagina is intact and hasn’t been ripped up to its butthole from giving birth, I will try and scoff at everything I see.
When your mom inevitably tears up on vacation simply because “you’re just so beautiful” and she’s just “so happy to see you,” do this: swallow your vomit, re-gain composure, then pretend she’s not actually crying, but just had something stuck in her eye.
3. If walk in on parents, capitalize.
I am truly sorry to say this, but as droves of families take off on their respective vacations, it’s proven that at least 30% of these families will experience a traumatic moment wherein a child walks in on his or her parents boning. Now, hold up. Before you lose it, listen very closely. Remember that though they may be your parents they ARE humans too. Try to make the best of it. Got a sibling? Use this as an opportunity to grow closer to him or her—you will certainly need each other’s support during grave times like these. Another suggestion: use this as an excuse to ignore your parents or venture off alone for a little bit. If your parents really are humans like they say they are, they will appreciate this gesture too.
4. When asked about your love life, have fun with it.
Seeing as you’re alone with your parents, let’s assume for convenience sake that you are single. Your parents will inevitably ask you about your love life and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll tell them, “Nothing to tell you on that front!” because, truly, you have no men in your life. Incredulous, your parent will respond with something like, “Really? Can’t even give me a first name?” When this happens—again, try not to lose your shit. They’re your biggest fans. They don’t know any better. Use this opportunity to flex your storytelling skills. Try being like, “Fine. Well there is this one guy. I met him in Hawaii and he’s seriously amazing, but the only problem is he has this condition where he has short-term memory loss and so every day that I saw him was like a first date. We went on 50 of them…” and continue to detail the entire plot to the movie 50 First Dates until they catch on. If they never do catch on, you can play 50 First Dates for them that night, and watch them realize they’ve been bamboozled IRL.
5. Let them dance.
At home, you go out, and so this vacation isn’t really a time to let loose. For your parents, it’s different. This is their time to go wild. They will drink every night and might even have a daytime frozen drink. And what’s more, they may even fancy themselves a dance. Let it happen. Seriously, take my advice. They will be in a better mood in the morning because of it, even if it does cause you to go blind ten years earlier than you were supposed to.
6. Avoid having your parents wake you up.
There’s just something about being woken up by your parents—say, your mom, whispering, “I made some tea for you…” while stroking your hair, that’s sure to put you in a bad mood for the rest of the day. Which is why I ask my parents when they want me to wake up and then set my alarm for 15 minutes before. That way you wake up on your own time and when they come into your room to wake you up and stroke your head, you can already be in the shower.
7. Bring a phone charger.
It’s compulsory you have a phone charger if you want to survive a vacation alone with your parents. Not so much to talk to you your new love interest 24/7, but more so that you can record any and all times your parents are unintentionally hilarious. There will be endless tweet-worthy moments—capitalize on them.
8. Avoid the inevitable blow-out family fight.
If you’re going on a family vacation, then you have already resolved that there will be at least one blow-out family fight. Unfortunately, it’s how these vacations go. There is only one way to survive this, and that’s to bring headphones and play Beyoncé’s new album on repeat. If you don’t enjoy her album then you deserve to be part of your blow-out family fight.
9. Give your parents any of your belongings that are of importance.
Parents, as a whole, tend to be nervous. My dad certainly is. And one characteristic trait of parents traveling with their kids is to constantly ask them if they have everything—their passport, wallet, phone, camera, etc. As it happens, the same question, repeated over and over again, will get annoying and so to avoid this just give your dad anything of importance at the beginning of the trip. There’s something about being responsible for the entire family’s passports that a worried father finds arousing—let him have his fun, and in return you wont have to answer to him every 15 minutes.