From September through May, most of us dream of vacation season. No work, no school, no worries…all relaxation. It’s a great idealized notion to get us through the long winter months but when vacation becomes reality, it often comes with a fair amount of frustration, stress and exhaustion. By the time you pack a week’s worth of clothing for the kids and yourself, schedule flights and hotels, and schedule pet and/or home sitting, you may find that you need a vacation from vacation. While planning a trip and traveling will always come with some degree of stress, it doesn’t have to become something to dread. We’ve contacted veteran travelers and compiled our own vacation best practices to help this year’s summer vacation feel restful and relaxing. We can’t help you with long layovers and lumpy hotel mattresses (don’t you wish you could take your Spa Sensations mattress everywhere?), but we can help you make some smart choices that will put the vacation back in your…well…vacation.
Kids and Vacation Schedules
We’ve said it many times but it bears repeating: if the kids aren’t sleeping, you aren’t sleeping. With all the anticipation compounded by major routine changes, vacations and travel can wreak havoc on kids’ sleep and rest habits. Once they’re exhausted, they often begin to act out during waking moments, all leading to more frustration for tired, vacationing parents. Especially if you are traveling to other time zones, parents should expect some degree of behavior changes but there are ways to help. For example, work with the new time instead of with your home time zone. If naptime comes at 1:00 p.m. each day, schedule some family rest at 1:00 wherever you are. If the kids aren’t sleepy, just do a quiet time; however, if they can’t stay awake until 1:00, let them sleep. Vacation is about loosening the rules a bit, after all. Just don’t make the all-too-common vacation mistake of scheduling activities over naps and snack times unless you want to face a little rebellion.
Packing for Kids
One of the first pre-vacation steps you probably take is packing the kids’ clothes and toiletries. What many parents often forget is lovies, blanets and nightlights. Every savvy, travel-wise parent knows that a family vacation is no time to forget the stuffed animal or security blanket that their little one requires to fall asleep. Especially if routines are up-in-the-air, kids need something homelike. Trust us…make room for whatever your child needs to fall asleep or soothe. Also plan to let kids scope out their vacation beds and bedrooms. Bedtime is no time to find that your children need to peek under beds and look in drawers.
Build in a Day of Rest
Many of us head out of town the day our vacation starts and come home the day it ends. While this type of schedule does max out the vacation time, it doesn’t build any rest into the equation. In fact, you may head back to work more burnt out than when you left. It may be hard but take one day off your trip and schedule a day at home before heading back to the office. This extra time gives you the chance to do laundry, head to the grocery store and catch up on whatever was missed during the trip. It may be mundane stuff but it will prepare you to get back to the daily grind.
If you’re headed to an interesting locale with tons of activities, your first inclination may be to pack as much as possible into every hour you spend there. Take this avenue and there’s a good chance you won’t enjoy a single thing, plus you’ll come home a bit dazed. Do your homework and decide what activities or events are the very most important to you, then add those to your vacation schedule. Make sure to build chunks of activity-free time in just to wander or relax on the beach or zone out. It will do wonders for your mental state.
Eat (and Drink) Smart
Your idealized version of vacation may include unlimited tropical beverages and multiple desserts. A steady stream of Key Lime Pie and Mai Tais can absolutely ruin vacation. Eat, drink and enjoy the local flavors, but don’t go overboard. Gaining weight may be the least of your worries. Too much sugar, alcohol and heavy fare can cause indigestion and gastro problems that will not lead to a happy vacation. Absolutely indulge but keep your body healthy and your head clear with moderation and light meals when you aren’t allowing yourself to feast on a local delicacy.
Set Realistic Expectations
Things are going to go wrong. Don’t get down if an event is rained out or if your toddler melts down in the middle of a wonderful family outing. Unrealistic expectations are public enemy number one when it comes to relaxation on vacation. Mentally prepare yourself to laugh off these little obstacles and view the vacation as the sum of its parts. One bad experience shouldn’t ruin the entire trip.
Mother’s Day is officially less than two weeks away: Sunday, May 13. If you find yourself cutting it close this year, never fear. We have been working hard, to find a diverse, affordable collection of Mother’s Day gift ideas for that special mom in your life. From the new mom to the seasoned pro, we’re practically positive you’ll find something she’ll (or you’ll) adore.
For the DIY-er/Crafty Mom
For the Spa-Seeking Mom
For the Trendy Mom
For the Comfort-Seeking Mom
For the New Mom
For the Luxury-Loving Mom