We're taking off tomorrow! Our very first family vacation (as a family of three). We won't be around 'til Wednesday so you'll have to survive without me for awhile! (I know, I know, it sounds impossible!)
Vamping up for this vacation got me a little nostalgic about trips I took with MY family. I started wondering how one prepares for packing up kids and car and trying to turn the whole facade into family fun. After all, we've all heard the horror stories of the family vacation gone south. (It has long been my belief that in times of great stress, such as a 4-day vacation, the thin veneer of family wears off almost at once, and we are revealed in our true personalities. -Author Unknown). So I decided to take a trip down memory lane and find a few tips for the family vacation.
1) Shit Happens - you'll laugh about it later.
I'm eleven years old, star struck by my first time at Sea World and about to see the great Shamu. Suddenly a wet glob that feels like a gigantic rain drop splats across my neck, pony-tail and t-shirt. I scream. My mother shouts. The sun is shining without any rain clouds in sight. I'm shaking as my mother assesses the situation. My worst fears are confirmed when my mother tells me a bird has had a bowel movement all over me. I miss the first few minutes of Shamu while my mother wipes me down in the washroom. I never walk under flying foul again. The thing is, my mother was able to calm me down and still have us all enjoy Shamu and the adventures of Sea World. In other words, don't let the little things ruin your day.
2) Expect the unexpected
Every time we took off in my teens, no matter what time of the month we may have traveled, I inexplicably would get my period. We'd be driving through Denver or about to pull into a doughnut shop when I would have to whisper to my mom that once again, I was unprepared and on my period. I'm obviously a slow learner, I mean really, how hard is it to pack a pad?
3) Never Trust a Travel Agent.
In this technologically advanced age there is no reason why you can't make and confirm reservations yourself. At least then if the following happens you have nobody to blame but you. On second thought...it's always easier to blame stuff on someone else.
This actually happened after we got married but it was a major bump in the vacation road. My husband and I traveled to Belize with my parents to enjoy some sun, snorkeling, and sand. We arrive hot, sweaty, sticky, and still wearing our winter clothes. We haven't eaten all day as we've been running around airports frantic to catch flights. The baggage carousel begins to spin and we all sigh with relief at the prospect of shorts and t-shirts. Only every last piece of luggage has been claimed and we're still sitting there in our sweaters! (Note to slow learning self: See number two and pack a carry-on. This is NOT the first time an airline has lost your luggage!). After being told it could take two days for our lost luggage to arrive in Belize we head out to find our rental truck. I almost cried. Sitting in the parking lot was the last of the Model T Fords. Okay not quite that bad but it was pretty pathetic. It was a dented, dirty, truck with a bench seat in the front and two fold out seats in the back...for five of us. We never would have fit our luggage anyway so maybe it was a good thing it was lost. After hours of driving because nobody gives decent directions and it's totally dark and our headlights don't work we FINALLY find out first hotel. I won't even get into a description of that dilemma. Anyway, the next day we are ready to head to our resort and we decide to call ahead for directions....they have record of our reservation...but it's been canceled by our travel agent! After many angry phone calls we finally get things somewhat straightened out, receive our luggage, and actually enjoy our vacation. Needless to say however, we never used that travel agent again!
4)Ignore the kids complaints. Your teen may say they hate you for taking them to Tuscany, but they'll love you for it later.
My parents took us on a three week tour of the Maritimes when I was in my teens. I was miserable for most of it. Now I remember Road to Avonlea, the house at Green Gables, and the ice cream at Cows with nostalgia.
"A vacation is like love - anticipated with pleasure, experienced with discomfort and remembered with nostalgia."- Author Unknown.
5) The best things in life are (sometimes) free.
My family went to Disneyworld when we were kids, wasted mountains of money to get in, stood in line for hours, and hated most of it. Would I take my kids? Most likely, but only because it seems like some kind of rite of passage for parents. Have you taken the kids to Disneyland? Check. My family had more fun just swimming in the ocean than standing in line.
"Disneyland: A people trap operated by a mouse." -Author Unknown.
And finally a few of my favourite vacation quotes to hold you over til we get home!
-We hit the sunny beaches where we occupy ourselves keeping the sun off our skin, the saltwater off our bodies, and the sand out of our belongings. ~Erma Bombeck
-Those that say you can't take it with you never saw a car packed for a vacation trip. ~Author Unknown
-By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacationless class. ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh
-The alternative to a vacation is to stay home and tip every third person you see. ~Author Unknown
-Every man who possibly can should force himself to a holiday of a full month in a year, whether he feels like taking it or not. ~William James