Tag Archives: vacation planning

Tips For Surviving A Family Vacation


The fam and I just got back from our vacation to the sunny (actually not so sunny) beaches of South Carolina. Weather was cloudy and overcast with threats of rain each day which actually made the trip delightful — not too hot, no sunburns, and the occasional afternoon cloudburst. Batteries recharged; time to get back to work around here.

Here, then, are five things about vacationing with family.

  1. Kids’ Energy Management. Being back and forth to beaches and pools and outdoor events and sights will wear the kids out. And I dunno about your kids, but when my kids (especially my adorable little girl) get tired, they get angry. You gotta keep their energy up. That means feeding them sugar in irregular large doses. Candy, ice cream, funnel cakes … just shovel it in. Eat meals at odd times. Routine is for the boring. And don’t even think about feeding them a vegetable — this is vacation, for science’s sake.
  2. Your Energy Management. All the problems your kids will have go double for you, because you’re old and tired. Luckily, the same advice also works. Lots of sugar, lots of huge meals at odd times (preferably fried food whenever you can get it, which is always). The golden ticket? You’re grown, so you get to add alcohol to the mix. Do so liberally. Bedtime is for suckers.
  3. Putting the Kids to Bed. Odds are, the sleeping arrangement is gonna leave something to be desired. It is what it is. And if you’ve been doing it right so far, they’re hopped up on sugar anyway. Leave them to their own devices, and they’re gonna invent games to play, babble at each other for hours on end, and otherwise avoid falling asleep. You need help, and the TV is your friend. It’s full of all sorts of programming that will distract and then zonk your kids right out. We discovered that the Weather Channel is excellent for this — their programming is somehow fascinating and boring enough to make you wish you were watching paint dry all at the same time.
  4. Mornings Are The Best Time. I know this never happens, but you might get lucky: since the kids are so wiped out, there’s a good chance they could sleep in an extra twenty or thirty minutes. You might feel compelled to seize the opportunity for a few extra Z’s yourself. Fight this impulse. Morning is a magical time — you just don’t appreciate it at home because you’ve seen it. Away from home, the magic is unmistakable. Have a tea. Meditate. Write. Run. Whatever. You can nap later.
  5. If At All Possible, Get Your Mother Drunk On Margaritas. Man, oh man, the things that will come out of her mouth.
Myrtle Beach, 6 AM. Got the street all to myself. Magic!

The Fruity-Smelling Guy


Note that the title of this post is not “The Fruity Smelling Guy” (the somewhat effeminate dude who goes around sniffing things). Come to think of it, do people even use “fruity” as a pejorative anymore? Anyway…

We’re back from vacation now.

I could write about the beach and how relaxing it was: the soft ocean breeze, the sand that gives way beneath your feet like so many microscopic gremlins and then swallows your feet up just as quickly, the tireless wash of the surf, the alligators cruising by just off the coast.

I could write about the weather and how backwards it was. We spent the week leading up to the vacation with lovely, cool (for summer) days in the low 80s and nights in the 60s. We traded that for a monstrous heat wave all week of temperatures in the upper 90s, with a heat index of well over 100 every day. (Keep in mind, this is the South — specifically Savannah — where even a moderate amount of heat can quickly transform your average city street into a slow-cooker thanks to the humidity.) Then, the day we came back — literally, that evening, and possibly while we were on the highway — the heat wave broke, a cold front moved in or something (I don’t know, I don’t weather) and we returned to the calm and really delightful 80s-60s range. Had we had that weather on the vacation, I think, at the very least, the kids would have asked about 80% less “WHY DID YOU BRING ME HERE”s and “DADDY WHY IS IT SO HOT”s.

Or I could write about the really amazing thing about vacationing with family that wants to help out with your kids: Grandparents putting kids to bed, grandparents getting kids dressed, grandparents changing diapers, grandparents waking up with the kids at the crack of dawn. I really can’t recommend bringing your kids’ grandparents on vacation enough, at least assuming that said grandparents are not the sort who will sit idly and ignore the kids’ screaming in a restaurant (they’re only children after all).

But what’s really on my mind?

What, in some strange way, I miss about vacation most of all?

Smelling like fruit.

Not because I eat a lot of fruit on vacation, or anything. (If anything, I slack in that department. Because who can manage a diet on vacation? If you can, please ship yourself back to Mars so you can resume life with the other non-humans.) But because when I’m on vacation, I use my wife’s body wash.

This isn’t a conscious decision or anything. (At least, it wasn’t always.) We’ve been vacationing together for about eleven years now (help!), and this is a trend that started some time ago, though I’d be hard-pressed to identify the first time. The fact is, I’m a forgetful Ferris, and on one of these vacations, I forgot to pack soap. I pointed this out to my wife in explanation of why I was grabbing my keys to head for the nearest overpriced island-monopoly grocery/convenience store, and she hit me with something I really hadn’t thought of:

“Why don’t you just use mine?”

I followed her to the bathroom, where she showed me a bottle of fragrant orangey gunk with little beads of alabaster foam floating in it. Blood orange extract. Orchid essence. Jojoba juice. She saw the look on my face and popped the lid for me to sniff it. With trepidation, I did. It smelled even fruitier than it looked. Like a produce truck carrying a million melons had crashed into a perfume factory and exploded in a fireball of flower-smell and aerosolized pheromones.

“No way,” I said, with a characteristic macho folding of my arms. Man’s soap, I explained, is supposed to smell like the woods, or the earth, or something blue and cool and vaguely industrial.

“So you’re going to go spend five dollars on a bottle of something you have at home anyway?”

That appealed to my spendthrift spirit, and I lathered up with the fruity goop. I spent the rest of vacation smelling like an orchard that’s maybe just a little past ripe, and I’m happy to say that I was no less manly for the transgression.

These days, I don’t pack soap for our trips at all, of any length — not because I forget, but because I know my wife will remember, so I don’t have to. (It’s surprising how much easier your life becomes when you adopt a maxim like this. Or maybe that’s just when you have a wife like mine. This is a woman who starts packing five days in advance for a two-evening trip.) Rather, I happily embrace the fact that, when I’m on vacation, I’m going to smell like whatever aromatic mixture of scents was sitting on my wife’s shelf waiting to be used. Gingerbread Cookie, Tropical Tango, Peppermint Dream, Lavender Lullaby (some of those names are made up, but some, I assure you, are real) — I have used them all and paraded my un-manly-smelling self around the locales of much of the Southeast.

20160620_184640.jpg

Note the absolutely useless comb that I still keep next to the sink, for some reason.

And why not? Smell is the sense most closely tied to memory, and when I’m on vacation, smelling like the entryway of a florists, I’m reminded of the other vacations I’ve had with my wife (and, more recently, of my awesome — if exhausting — kids). Which is not such a bad thing.

Plus, it’s one less thing I have to remember to pack. And that’s a good thing, too.

I wonder if my wife will notice if I just start using it all the time…


%d bloggers like this: