It never fails.
No matter how organized I think I am, no matter where we’re going, a few days before, I’m in pre-trip freak out mode when no one else in the family is the least bit worried that snow might derail flights (that’s happened) or we’ll have enough food for an upcoming sailing trip. (We’ve never gone hungry, my husband reminds us.)
Why it is that moms not only tend to be the vacation planners, but the worriers too. Maybe there are worry wart dads out there but I don’t know many of them. (If you’re the worrier in the family, email me). Dads are building sandcastles on the beach while moms are the ones chasing the kids to reapply sunscreen and checking our watches all afternoon to make sure we’re not late picking up the kids at ski school while the guys are focused on which trail to try next. We’re the ones fretting on the plane about what we’ll eat for breakfast that first morning in the vacation condo and whether a washer and drier will be conveniently located. (That’s no small thing when you’re traveling with a couple of messy kids.) Let’s not forget who makes sure everyone has packed enough socks and underwear, while convincing the preschoolers they don’t need their entire collection of characters-of-the-moment or teenage girls, every pair of shoes in the closet. Sound familiar?
The reality: No matter how well I plan—and remember, I’m an expert at this—I always forget something. Once, it was my youngest daughter’s parka on a ski trip. (We bought another at an outlet mall on the way to the mountain.) Another time we forgot my older daughter’s duffel when we drove to Cape Cod for a week. (Thank goodness a friend was driving up the next day.) Then there was the California hike when I forgot the first aid kit (a fellow hiker offered his when one daughter fell into some cactus.)
That brings me to my first 2012 travel resolution. I’m going to “chill,” as my kids would say. I’m no longer going to fret every detail. I’m not going to get unduly upset when plans go awry, and itineraries change, as they invariably will. I’m going to embrace such changes as part of the adventure. I’m going to try anyway.
Resolution #2: I’m going to ask for help from the rest of my family. I don’t mean just hoisting luggage or doing dishes in the condo—they’re pretty good about that– but helping to plan the trip. We all know kids are often the most web-savvy in the family anyway. Besides, if they help plan, they’ll be more vested in what we do when we get there and won’t complain as much.—that’s the idea anyway. You’ll be amazed at where they’ll lead you.
Resolution #3: Let go of the guilt! I’m going to plan some just-for-me time, wherever we go. Maybe a massage, a couple of hours browsing at shops no one else wants to visit, an hour by myself on the beach. I’m going to pay extra for maid service and opt for takeout if no one wants to cook. Don’t feel guilty either if you want to get away by yourselves for a weekend or longer. Remember, it’s good for the kids to see that your life doesn’t revolve entirely around them!
Resolution #4: I’m going to book nonstop flights whenever possible, even if they cost a little more. I’m going to buy travel insurance. It will cover costs if a trip gets derailed by weather or someone gets sick.
Resolution #5: Wherever we go, I’m going to find something for us to do that we’ve never done before.
Resolution #6: I will encourage, but not force anyone to do anything. It’s vacation after all.
Resolution #7: I won’t force everyone to be in lockstep the entire trip (hear that grandparents) A little space from each other is a good thing—especially on vacation where you may be staying in tight quarters. Let the teens sleep in and take the little ones to the pool or out for breakfast. Let the older cousins babysit so the adults can get a night out without the kids.
Resolution #8: I will look for books and movies that are set in the locales we’re going to visit– to get everyone excited about the trip. When taking kids to foreign and unfamiliar turf, I’m going to make sure they’re prepared for what we’re going to see and do. (No one said it was going to be so hot in Rome! How much longer do we have to spend in this museum???)
Resolution #9: I will get the relatives motivated—finally—for that often postponed family gathering. None of us want our next reunion to be at a funeral.
Resolution #10: I’m going to invite one child for a special just-us weekend. Maybe your son can join you for the weekend after a business trip or you can tack on a day strictly for fun after touring colleges. it doesn’t have to be anything expensive either. When was the last time you had a leisurely meal with just one of your children?
Here’s to happy—and less stressful—travels in 2012.