How to relax on vacation.
Or more accurately...how not to get so stressed out getting ready for vacation that I never wind down while ON vacation.
I know that I once was able to do this thing called vacation, and enjoy it. I distinctly remember going on family vacations as a child and having a fun filled, restful time. We would drive to Maine, stay at the cottage, and the four of us kids, plus all our cousins would spend an entire week playing in the tide pools, skipping rocks, and scratching mosquito bites. No television, hardly any radio reception and no city lights to dim the evening stars. It was great, and we always looked forward to it. Almost nothing could keep us from that yearly tradition. Not even the year the car broke down on the interstate and the 6 of us were stuck on the side of the road for what seemed like hours, waiting for the tow truck. (Yes, this was before the days of cell phones and OnStar.)
Now? Not so much.
Now just the thought of a family vacation is sometimes enough to make me want to curl up in a corner and twitch. It seems I have lost the childhood knowledge of how to relax on vacation. Somewhere between elementary school and now, that ability was erased from my memory. I think it was around the time that I had two small children and many other things were slipping out of my sleep deprived memory. Things like what my pillow looked like at 2 a.m., or my husband's name.
That was also the time when family vacations turned into an event that needed all the planning and strategy skills of a D-Day invasion. I used to think that vacationing with an infant or small children required many, many pieces of equipment, a stockpile of diapers, wipes, snacks, bottled water, infant tylenol, shot records, pediatrician phone numbers, nail clippers, band-aids, 3 changes of clothes per day (for children and adults), etc, etc, etc.....
Now, even though the kids are older and do much of their own packing, I still have a hard time not stressing about vacations. Things like batteries for the camera (yes I still use one and not a cell phone for pics), chargers for all of the various electronics, snacks for the ride, $$ for tolls, bandaids and ibuprofen for the first aid kit, phone numbers and addresses, enough knitting projects and books to keep me "busy". Yikes....no wonder it takes me a good 5 days of a 7 day vacation to unwind.
Today, however, I had a sudden realization...
Pretty much everywhere I travel, there are these wonderful inventions readily available to any weary mom/road warrior. They cover many acres, have ample parking spaces, bathrooms, air conditioning and employees that wear khaki pants and blue shirts. Yes, my friends, I realized that there are big box stores almost everywhere I go, and they have shelves stocked with anything I could ever think I would need on a vacation.
I am currently on vacation, in the land of star fish, mosquitos and starry nights. This afternoon I went to one of these stores just to double check.
Yup...they carried multiple brands of anything I could possibly think to pack for a vacation...which leads me to wonder why I even bothered to pack bags in the first place??? Maybe that could be something to try on the next vacation.....Just holler up the stairs at the kids "Van is leaving in 10 min. for a 1500 mile trip....throw some clothes in a bag and head out the door!"
As I exited the blue big box store this afternoon, I took a deep breath and smelled the ocean for the first time in 2 years. Between that and the thought of never again having to pack for a vacation, I felt myself get a little giddy :)
I'm glad I learned this lesson now, while I still have time to put my new knowledge into practice, because vacation is something that is supposed to be relaxing.
So glad I got to make up the class I missed!