I love the idea of vacations. Who doesn't, right? You go somewhere, you relax, you see cool stuff... Only problem is, I'm not very good at them. I often get all stressed out when I go on vacation. So, I’ve been paying attention lately, trying to crack the code on how to enjoy something that everyone else seems to do naturally. Best I came up with are the five ways I tend to mess them up. I...
1. Forget sunscreen on the first day (or any day).
This no duh slip has caused more painful beach showers than I care to recollect. Plus, how stupid can I get? Not only is there A SONG, but, I have a good friend who survived skin cancer AND I often vacation with my sister who is a sunscreen Nazi. She brings enough sunscreen on any given vacation to keep the entire block pale for at least a week.
And, y’all, there is spray now (cause, you know, putting on lotion is exhausting). There is just no excuse. I’d love to say my good parenting kicked in on my last vacation and at least my kids didn’t get burnt... *hangs head in shame*
I’m a member of the MUST SEE EVERYTHING! contingent of vacationers. When I go places, I want to hunt down every headliner landmark there is to see. Ready, set, GO! GO! GO! The problem with that tactic is: running around all headless chickeny is not very vacation-like. It is exhausting. That’s a good way to need a vacation from your vacation.
When I think back on the trips I’ve taken, my favorite moments were the ones where I was stopping, not going.
3. Do no research and don’t have a plan.
This one I figured out mostly by seeing other people do vacations really well. I had no idea there was a right way to go to Disney until a good friend of mine schooled me on it. The key, it turns out, is to plan ahead (and reconsider sleeping in).
My sister, who is a seasoned beach goer, doesn’t just have the sunscreen figured out. She takes being comfortable at the beach very seriously and makes sure that her site has proper seating, shading and food to keep the whine level to a minimum and to maximize relaxation potential.
Going to Disney with my good friend and the beach with my sister have taught me that the key to making trips low stress is having a plan. My goto *I’ve got a towel* approach turns out to be lacking.
Also, if I am going somewhere with a lot of history, like, everywhere, knowing something about it makes the trip so much better. My husband obsessively Wikipedias before we go anywhere. I used to think he was nuts until, one trip to New York City (a while back), he's all pointing out the interesting buildings he's read about and I'm all, "that's pretty, is it famous?"
I have two words: The Internet. It was one thing back in the day when you actually had to be in Paris to get a little model Eiffel Tower (that was still probably made in China). But, those days have passed. I can order little Eiffel Towers and Niagara Falls snow globes all day long if I want to. (Sounds like fun, huh?)
I’m not much of a shopper in my regular life so shopping on vacation is really just a habit. My mom is a vacation shopper. School field trips always involved bringing money for the gift shop so you could get things like giant pencils with “Baltimore” written on them.
Shopping when you go someplace new is just what you do. This was so engrained in me that when I went to London a few years ago I went clothes shopping at Gap. Yes, that Gap. Several Gaps, actually, where things are the same as at home, just more expensive. Smart thinking.
It’s time for me to sever the tie between going someplace new and spending money on tchotchkes. I’d way rather spend my time relaxing or exploring and bringing home memories than to trade that time for milling through stores searching for the perfect souvenir.
5. Ignore Basic Physiological Needs.
Everyone knows that you don’t push a toddler. Bad things happen if you do. If she is tired, hungry, overstimulated, or, in general over it it’s time to go home. Quickly. The thing is, this never goes away. As a grownup, I’m just better at refraining from dropping to the ground, rolling around, and crying... most of the time.
I have a terrible habit of staying up too late on vacation because I want to hang with the grown ups after the children have gone to bed. Unfortunately, the children don’t get the memo about mom needing to sleep-in to compensate. So, as the week goes on, sleep deprivation catches up to me and my fuse shortens.
Part of getting along with others and enjoying a vacation (or life in general) means keeping the inner-toddler in optimal condition and knowing when it’s time to feed or rest the little beast for everyone’s sake.
The first step of recovery is admitting you have a problem, I guess. I may not have vacationing down yet, but, I'm willing to practice...
I like to throw things.