The coronavirus pandemic really cramped our vacation style. We hunkered down and weathered waves of COVID-19 while awaiting vaccines and effective treatment.
Marketing research company OnePoll surveyed American parents and found that more than half (55%) of families haven’t had a vacation in at least three years; however, 70% are planning to take one within the next 18 months.
Many of us are ready to hit the road again and enjoy some much-needed relaxation time with the family.
The same survey also found that 76% of families said they are able to plan out their entire itinerary within six hours over a span of a few days. I’m impressed with their confidence. But I’m here to remind you that plans and budgets will only take you so far. No matter what you do or where you go, these things I know for sure.
YOU WILL FORGET SOMETHING.
I see your detailed lists and careful planning, but just know I speak the truth.
My husband drove two hours in the direction of Canada for a fishing trip with his buddies before realizing he had forgotten his passport. I loaded up the car and was halfway to Michigan when I startled the children with a spontaneous burst of expletives. I had forgotten my prescription medication.
The brain gets lost in lists and likes to miss the most obvious and essential needs. But once I get on the road and the car gets quiet, that one missing item will pop into my head.
Or you’ll swear you left the coffeepot on.
THE MOOD WON’T MATCH THE GAME PLAN.
Road trip entertainment is an important part of travel planning. I enjoy a good audiobook while I drive. I even let the kids have input on what book we buy so we all agree.
But it never fails. Once we get on the road, no one is in the mood for whatever audiobook we chose, nor do they want to listen to the playlist marked “road trip” that I made specifically for the drive.
“Can I just listen to my music, mom?”
Any group activities or games I hoped to play dissolve into NPR for Mom and earbuds for the teen. The toddler will play games on my phone where the audiobook is stored.
THE PLANTS WILL DIE.
The housesitter is no gardener. She is there to feed the pets and neglect your hanging baskets and herb box. Soak the plants before you leave and pray for rain. My plants have died in the presence of every housesitter I’ve ever hired — my own teenagers included.
THE BANK WILL CUT YOU OFF.
Standing in flip-flops eating M&M’s at the checkout counter of the tourist shop is when the bank thinks I’m being robbed. Bank accounts frozen. They’re like a bad boyfriend who insists I call them every time I make plans without them. If someone ever does rob me, I hope they buy more than sunscreen and candy.
TEXT REMINDERS WILL HOUND YOU.
Whatever is on autofill at the pharmacy is always ready on day two of my vacation. I’ll get daily text reminders that turn into threats of restocking blood pressure medication I’m sure to need following their incessant texting.
If you can hold it, the toddler overflows his diaper, soaking his clothes and the car seat. When you need to stop, the toddler remains dry and sleeping.
The toddler also wets the hotel mattress and birds poop on my head. Meanwhile back home, the dog bombs the backyard. No housesitter gets paid enough to pick up dog poop.
After returning home, when I’m standing in the backyard among dead plants with a pooper-scooper in hand: that is when it will rain.
— Bonnie Jean Feldkamp is a wife, mother of three kids, and the opinion editor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Louisville Courier-Journal. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, followed through her YouTube channel and on Twitter: @WriterBonnie, or click here to learn more about her. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.