Is traveling with your sister on vacation a recipe for disaster? It doesn’t have to be as long as you lay down some ground rules first. Here are a few travel-tested truths for keeping peace in the sister hood.


  1.  Leave the baggage at home. Traveling with sisters should be easy. You carry the same DNA. You’re alike. Right? Wrong. Sibling relationships can be fraught with the peril of childhood roles, divergent interests and unspoken resentments. So, no matter if you’re the big sis used to being in charge or the baby accustomed to being indulged, leave the birth-order baggage at home. Commit to appreciating each other as you are NOW and let the magic begin. The bonds born out of the shared experience of upbringing is like nothing you can ever have with a friend, partner or coworker. Let it blossom.
  2.  Privatize: Allow for private time in your itinerary. Even if you and your sister(s) are BFF, heading off on separate adventures gives you something to chat about when you regroup. Compare wish lists and decide which activities are best suited to individual exploration. If you love tromping through museums and castles and she thinks the perfect vacation is watching life from the seat of a café table, then one of you is going to be disappointed or resentful. Make time to break away and do your own thing. It will enhance your experience and the quality of time spent together.
  3.  Get thee to chocolate. Not much sweetens a disagreement or hurt feelings better than chocolate. If you start to get snarky, or she does, take two chocolates and another in the morning. If symptoms escalate, wine is also recommended.
  4.  Play well with others. Remember those grade school report cards with a check box for plays-well-with-others? Well the rules haven’t changed much. Return home from your vacation with top marks. Say please and thank you a lot. Show respect, admit your mistakes and never be a tattletale. What happens in Nevis, stays in Nevis.
  5.  Money, money, money. Communication is important when it comes to money, especially if one of you has to watch your pennies more than another. Sharing the expenses can be a big motivator for traveling together. But, don’t insist on eating at the most expensive restaurant in Paris and expect your unemployed sister to split the bill. Or, book $150 Cirque du Soleil tickets on a whim and then ask to be compensated after the fact.  Be sure to discuss in advance your expectations for sharing costs, the level of accommodation or how paying for meals is to be handled.


Hat tip for some great suggestions from my virtual Twitter sisters: @swellwomen; @pen4hire; @ableimes; @writerjudie. If you’re not following them, you should be!

Sister Getaways

It’s a big world out there. For those ready to hit the streets, or trails, here’s five sister-friendly faves to get you started. Bon Voyage!


  1. Soul surfing. Right around February when you’re shivering on your living room couch somewhere frozen and landlocked, a Swell Women Surf Retreat in Maui is gonna sound just about right. Warm and tropical, you bet your lily-white legs. Better yet, how hard will it be to convince that penny-pinching sister of yours to agree to delicious meals, surf lessons, massage and daily yoga? Sign me up!; 1.800.388.MAUI.
  2. Must love food. Does the new film “Julie & Julia” have you craving a gourmet getaway to Paris but you don’t know foie gras from faux pas? No worries. Add Paris’ top culinary travel specialist, Wendy Lyn, to your Rolodex and launch your own behind-the-scenes food-focused vacation armed with a customized food and wine itinerary of insider favorites.; 1.850.303.0697 (US); (Paris)
  3. Back to school. The towering rock walls and vivid colors of Abiquiu, New Mexico, are so unlike the cinder-block-cells you may associate with learning, you’ll actually WANT to return to school. Pack your creativity and learn to paint the landscape where Georgia O’Keefe painted for fifty years enrolled in a Ghost Ranch ‘plein air’ workshop. If your sister won’t, I will. J; 1.800.821.5145
  4. New you. Jumpstart a new, healthier version of you at southern Utah’s Red Mountain Spa. The resort’s Girlfriends Spa Road Trip Package includes all the necessary components: welcome gift & spa treatment; stylish villa suite; healthy gourmet meals; complimentary bike; guided hikes; unlimited fitness classes; cooking demonstrations and nutrition classes; healthy living lectures; and full use of resort facilities.; 1.877.246.HIKE
  5. Road trippin. If you’re looking to connect and spend some quality time together, there’s nothing like a road trip for chatting, reading, solving the world’s problems or, god forbid, your own. My fave? Coastal California, Route 1 from L.A. to San Fran, top down, iPod pumping, no-holds-barred, baby. Tack on a few days touring the wine country and it’s the perfect chick trip. Enjoy!; 916.444.4429

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".