I need a vacay after the vacay.

I need a vacay after the vacay.

CRUNCH deets:
It seemed like a good idea when you booked. But after schlepping the diapers, car seat, and pack and play, surviving the plane ride with a finger-walker, figuring out how to beach nap it, and feeding your toddler mostly French fries for a week… well, you’re not so sure any more.

The Fix:
Keep calm while you carry on.

Fix deets:
We’ve done road trips, camping trips, resorts, weekend getaways, and a cruise, so yup – we’ve had our share of holiday drama. Here’s how our party of five maxes out our vacation fun while minimizing the relationship/wallet strain:

  • Staying relatively on schedule. Sure, every vacay calls for a night or three of later than usual bedtimes and/or quickie car naps, but day after day of spontaneity means night after night of exhaustion. Fail.
  • Dining in more often than out. I know, I know – cooking on vacation… blah. Except if everyone’s eating mostly crap food most of the time, it makes sense that everyone’s feeling mostly crap most of the time. We have an easy, nutritious breakfast in our home away from home, pack plenty of on-the-go snacks à la fruit/yoghurt/cheese/nuts, and make a simple dinner when we’re back in the condo. We typically lunch at a resto – everyone needs a break from the kitchen and we’re usually out getting our tourist groove on anyway.
  • H2O. So simple yet so often forgotten.
  • Bringing help. Lately we’ve been inviting Nona and Pops (aka my parents) on our beach trips, which means more fun for all, extra adults to divvy up the work and the bills, and extra free-time to date-night it in another city. Win, win, win, win.
  • Road-tripping it or flying on the cheap. We explained how we entertain our munchkins en-route back over here. And remember this book that I recommended last week? Some good ideas in there for how to keep your kids entertained while waiting out airport delays. Think: mission impossible preschooler-style.
  • Finding sweet deals by doing our online/networking homework. This is how Ernie found supercheap Buffalo to Florida flights, this is how he rented a minivan for the price of a sedan and also scored three extra drivers for free, and this is how we spontaneously surprise the kids with a weekend getaway every once in a while.
  • Skipping the kid-themed (read: super expensive) tourist traps. Playing with sand and water trumps lining up in our books any day.
  • Avoiding peak travel times, which is why you’ll find us at home during Christmas, March break, and every long weekend. Sure, it means pulling the kids out of school if we want a winter escape… we’re okay with that.
  • Accepting that things won’t always be as perfect as the pictures. Vacation rules mean it’s okay to splurge a little on the treats/screen time/late nights, but we have to prep for the fall-out. And even when all of our moods, bellies, and bladders are in sync, something else might be off, as in weather, traffic, or health. Breathing helps.

We also do our best not to inadvertently invite any unwelcome guests chez nous by sharing pics/posts online before/during a vacay. Honestly guys, I don’t even like to email vacation deets just in case someone hacks into my account and takes advantage of our absence to rob us blind. Paranoid much? Probably. But why take the chance? Those pics still get plenty ‘o likes when we share them after we’re back home.

Remember this:
If your vacations are pure stress and no fun you’re better off staying at work. Rethinking how to tweak your plans could be the difference between an experience you’ll want them to remember forever and one you’ll all want to forget. Which would you prefer?

© Charise Jewell, 2018

This article was originally published on CRUNCH compass: