Make a plan, pack your bags and away you go! Finally, you are away from "the job", and excitedly anticipating a new adventure. You are ready to make memories with your family and create Kodak moments for the scrapbook. Ahhhh, time to decompress and catch up on that book you haven't finished, get that good "hotel sleep" and wake to the sun and not an alarm. Time to kick up your heels and just let the days effortlessly unfold. HA !!! Get real! Whose fantasy life is that ?!
As the turn of spring finds droves of eager college students, families and others scanning the globe for a spring break getaway and then putting in Herculean efforts to make it happen, inevitably the "travel trolls" will ride in on any fantastical expectations and riddle the excursion with frustration and gnashing of teeth, if you are not careful. The operative word-expectations!
Why do we vacation in the first place? What do we expect? Practically speaking, we vacation because we crave a break from our routine. We want a to change our perspective allowing us to see the world with fresh eyes thereby freshening our view of the "same ole same ole" upon our return. Or, maybe we are completely exhausted and need a mind body hiatus to draw the drapes and just sleep. We expect that our vacation will bring about the mental and physical transformation we feel we need to go on. Somewhere embedded deep into our psyches we expect, we long for our vacation to act like a magic wand, opening the doors to a new land where the 24-hour day and gravity don't exist. In "vacation land", everything is made of candy and carbs with no calories. And why shouldn't it? We hear tales of delight from family and friends about perfect hotels, great dinners and breath taking sites on their last voyage. We pour over websites and glossy brochures stocked with vacationers flashing a wide mouth, yelping smile showing all 36 pearly whites. They are having pure joy, so why can't we?
In reality, achieving a rejuvenating, family vacation for ALL parties involved is arguably an artful skill that has quite a steep learning curve and often a budget-breaking price tag. Although it can be done, but like most everything else, even a vacation takes work, and often a lot of it. especially if you are traveling with children.
Despite the fact that recession and joblessness continue to be on the tips of our tongues and gas costs us 80 cents more, than this time last year, the USA Today reports, "Advanced bookings for March and April [travel] are up sharply at many destinations."
GAS PRICE CALCULATOR: How Much Are You Spending?
Judging by our perseverance we are keeping the dream alive for a vacation panacea. It can be achieved. Yes, really it can, if one leading member of he family will take hold of the vacation reigns and consider the following:
- 1. Start early and make a written plan. It's not fancy, but it works. Last minute packing creates stress and increases the likelihood that you will forget things. There's no reason why you can't start putting things in the bag 2 weeks before you depart, especially if you are going to another climate. When it's done, check it off the list and keep the paper in the suitcase.
- 2. Simplify your actual vacation days. It pulls the plug on the fun when you try to see and do it all. Your children and you become cranky and feel a sense of being put upon, rather than the melodic rhythm of an unfolding day. It's okay to be UNscheduled. Grab a chair and just watch and listen to your family. If your lives are as busy as most during your regular routine, this will most certainly bring on the fantasy vacation feeling.
- 3. Eat and rest well. Eating well on a vacation has got to include more fiber and less sugary junk. Need I say more? Consider tossing a few organic naturally stimulating teas in your bag. That's sure to keep the crew feeling at the ready. As for rest, we all know how much better parents and children function when we have ample sleep.
- 4. Set souvenir parameters so you don't face a cash register meltdown. Before you leave the hotel room on day 1, let your children know how many and how much they can spend on souvenirs during your vacation. You can even give them a chip, or slip of paper indicating that number and amount (age dependent) to be exchanged for their souvenir. They learn about limits, budgets and feel a sense of control and you can breeze past all that stuff sans "a scene".
- 5. Finally, don't "lower" your vacation expectations, but "shift" them. As far as I can tell where ever we go, life is. Whether we are at Disney World or not, gravity still exists, calories still count, our budget has limits and nothing is absolutely perfect. Expect and plan to enjoy just being in the moments with your family despite all else. That you can control. Mostly.
This travel season there will undoubtedly be travelers from Alaska to Florida who have taken time off work, spent hours comparative shopping for the best travel destinations and deals, endured a variety of travel modes, spent thousands of dollars, yet, they find themselves harried and hurried, disgusted and frustrated wearing a forced smile and thinking are we having fun yet. True vacationing is in the mind. It's a departure from the norm and actually achievable right here, right now. So make the choice and away you go!
That brings me to another thing.......we?ll talk about that next time.