Going on a family vacation is like planning a military siege, a corporate take-over and a political campaign in one. First, the planning. If you have a 7-year old Barbie wannabe and a 7 month old baby, plus a nephew currently experiencing teenaged angst, do you know what they all have in common? NONE! So your first mission, should you choose to accept it, is to think of a vacation that’s acceptable to all. Hopefully, that will mean no one whining “I want to go home now!” every 5 minutes, and that list includes my husband. You’ll also need to have the skills of an ad executive, so you can convince your family that this vacation will be so much fun!
Next, logistics. How will you get you get your family there in a way that will hopefully preserve your sanity, as well as those around you? On our most recent vacation, we decided to go on a road trip. We wanted to take the plane, but the last time we did, the stewardess told us they’d be posting Do Not Allow To Board posters of us in every airport within a ten-mile radius. I wanted to call her bluff, but I don’t know if I can take the icy stares directed at us by our fellow passengers. So we stuffed the car full of games and toys to keep the kids entertained, and mommy from pulling her hair out. And since it was just a weekend trip, I made sure only the things we’d actually use would be packed. That meant swimsuits and shorts, plus one or two sweaters just in case it suddenly grew cold at the beach. Oh, and we even bought those ridiculously expensive flip-flops in preparation for those sunset walks along the shore we planned to do. Too bad they got carried away by the waves ten minutes after we arrived.
Now what about sightseeing? A car trip is an ideal way to teach culture to kids. Not to mention patience, tolerance and pain. But we were able to make a few stops along the way. These places were carefully researched, to make sure the restrooms were clean, and there wasn’t a lot of ways to get in trouble. There are now about 7 convenience clerks who are sure to remember us if ever we need witnesses to testify that we were out of town. And the kids have sure learned a lot! They now know that touching antique vases with fingers sticky with chocolate are not acceptable in most cultures. And daddy has learned how much they cost after paying for 2 vases the fingers broke.
There is one important thing to remember when planning your trip. Make sure you’re really booked at the hotel. I suggest calling everyday to confirm, and again on the day itself. Get a confirmation number, the manager’s name, the desk clerk’s name and their solemn oath that the room will be available upon check-in time, not four hours after. Oh, and get specific directions to the hotel. Chances are, you’ll probably get lost and drive around for hours since your husband won’t stop to ask for directions. But at least you’ll be able to verify that you’re at the correct place when you pull up to the hotel’s front.
Planning and executing the perfect vacation is difficult, but not impossible. We’re proud to say we were able to survive it. Who cares if daddy nearly got in a fight with a local goon? So what if we had to mortgage the house to pay for it? The important thing is, we bonded. Especially my daughter and the baby, who got their heads stuck together with a piece of gum. We had fun together, and we learned to be grateful for each other. Daddy’s glad he’ll be back at the office soon, and Mommy’s grateful she only has two kids. My nephew now values the time he spends with his cousins, especially since he’ll make it a point to spend as little time possible with them. And my 7 year old princess certainly enjoyed all the attention she received, especially the undivided ones when we were trying to figure out what she did this time. Even the baby has learned something new, although it’s a word I wouldn’t like her to repeat.
Someday, I know we’ll look at the countless photos we took of this vacation, and remember it fondly. We’ll remember the fun times, and even laugh at the memories that make us cringe now. My kids will know that we love them, because we brought them with us, didn’t we? And I’m sure that next year I’ll plan our next vacation. I’m a hopeless optimist with a short memory.
So how was your vacation?