Why I Keep Going to Honeymoon Destinations with My In-Laws

Aruban sunset
Photo by Christine Porretta

Just say the word Aruba, and everyone pictures couples sharing quiet moments together beachside. But when I was recently on that island snapping a picture of this sunset that sucked me into its beauty, not only were my hubby and I not on the honeymoon we haven’t taken yet, we weren’t even alone in the Dutch Caribbean. We were on vacation with his mother, his father, his sister, our brother-in-law and our three nieces, ages 8, 6 and 2. Hardly a mix for one-on-one connecting. It was the annual family vacation with the in-laws — going on four years now, and our relationship is still intact to tell the tale.

The first time we landed on Aruba’s Palm Beach, we felt like the odd pair out — not on our honeymoon, not married, not with kids and we weren’t retired. What were we doing there?! It was the perfect scenario to get the “You’ve been together for more than seven years, and you’re still not married?” utter-joy questions from complete strangers. We were used to our go-go-go trips, eating-our-way-through-European-country vacations, exploring ruins and museums, and spending money with a you-only-live-once attitude. Suddenly we found ourselves on our in-laws’ schedule of coffee at 7 a.m., beach walking at 7:30 a.m., breakfast by 8:30 a.m., socializing on the beach at 9:30 a.m., lunch at noon, happy hour cocktails around 2 p.m., coffee at 3:30 p.m., early bird dinner specials and sleep before 11 p.m., then repeat, repeat, repeat every day of the trip. Even I found myself flipping through the I-heart-Aruba coupon book for specials.

Normally, I would have begged someone to queue the intervention at that very moment, but something happened. Every year since then, come February (nearly five months before the trip!), I’ve found myself comparing the best non-stop fare deals from NYC to Oranjestad with my MIL. Even my now-husband Joe asks, “Are you sure you want to go again?” Last year and the year before that, my in-laws suddenly became our traveling buddies, and we went on a second vacation with them to Paradise Island — just the four of us in a two-bedroom villa on Cabbage Beach. That could spell disaster for some, but for us, there were no fights, no demands of needing personal space. Just a lot of card playing, cooking, eating Bahamian lobster and reading. After all, Joe and I had actually invited ourselves on their trip.

And while this year I realized that the 13 days/12 nights we spent in Aruba two weeks ago — the longest we had ever gone — was perhaps one to two days too long together as a group (hey, no one should ever overdo a good thing), I’ve also realized that Joe and I can always figure out when to fit in seeing a new place in the world like we did every year before that first trip to the island. Having those experiences is still important to us (next up, Italy!), but they don’t come with a week in a townhouse at a timeshare resort with nieces running into our room to read or to talk about their friends at school. They don’t come with eating dinner as a family on the beach and swimming together until the sun comes down. Our family vacation to Aruba has become much more than just a getaway, much more than another stamp in our passports — it’s become our tradition.

TELL US: Do you or would you travel with your in-laws? Love it or hate it?

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