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The Greenwood Davis family on vacation.

Are your parents driving you crazy on vacation? Are you visiting boring museums? Being forced to wait while they shop? Having to stop them from stealing your steak frites? I’m going to teach you the art of surviving a trip with your sometimes annoying, but always loving, parents. Follow these five rules and you will master the ability to win at family vacations, every single trip.

Rule 1: Get on their good side

If your parents are happy, it’s more likely you’ll have a great trip. When they’re happy they might only think once before saying yes when you suggest doing something crazy. Get on their good side: Be kind and do the things you might hate at the time, so that later you can do the things that you want to do. Smile at the boring museum now, so that later maybe they’ll let you go go-karting. Compromising can open up so many possibilities. For example, if you are at Disneyland and you want to see the new Star Wars exhibit, but your parents and sibling(s) want to see Cars Land for the 21st time, offer to split the time. When you’re the more “mature” one, they’ll listen to you more. Too much whining and you can sound a lot like Charlie Brown’s teacher (“blah blah blah”).

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Rule 2: Share your opinion

Having input on where you stay can make or break your trips. Your parents aren’t telepathic, if you don’t tell them that you really want a pool at your hotel, they may not think of it. If you voice your opinion, you may get to do the things that you really want to do. Look for hotels that might have a great kids’ club or ones that are close to attractions you want to see (so you can trick your parents into visiting them).

Cameron Greenwood Davis, left, and his brother on vacation.

Rule 3: Pack your own bag

It’s not that big of a deal to pack your own bag. You get to bring the stuff that you like and need. When your parents pack your bags they don’t have the same mindset as you. If you do it yourself, you can add a pack of gummy bears or throw in a few toys or games. Plus, when you do this on your own, your parents will be amazed by your independence. They’ll say things like, “My children are getting so independent now! It’s amazing. They need to be rewarded.”

Rule 4: Simmer down

Sometimes you and your parents will get into arguments. You may need some time to cool off and that's completely okay. If you feel yourself getting mad, maybe it’s time to hit the kids’ club or grab a sibling for a swim or pull out your book and head to a hammock or pool chair. Make sure to be aware of your surroundings, not stray too far and let them know where you’re going and when you’ll be back.

Rule 5: Pay attention

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You have to listen. Learn stuff about your parents and use it to your advantage in the future or on your next trip. For example, if you learn that your they love good food, suggest a great restaurant (but make sure there is something on the menu for you as well!). But be aware: While you’re learning about your parents, they’re probably keeping an eye on you too. Don’t be surprised on your next trip when they’ve booked a hotel with a pool and or kids’ club, because they noticed that you loved that. That’s the best part of travel: You grow as a family because you’re learning more about each other every day.

Cameron Greenwood Davis, age 13, lives in Toronto.

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