Vacation Planning

Currently, we are days away from a vacation, one that was supposed to be low stress. Hmm, something went drastically wrong. With our son graduating from high school this past June and planning on entering the workforce, and our daughter graduating from college in August with plans to also join the workforce, we decided that this summer would be one of our last chances to take a family vacation. I hate committing to vacations because things always seem to be too stressful, but I reluctantly agreed and scheduled a week off work.

To make this a low-stress vacation, the plan was to drive to Gatlinburg and then Myrtle Beach. Driving is easier than flying, right? No set schedules, just travel as we please. Then my inner planner took over. "Wouldn't it be nice to rent a cabin in the mountains?" "Instead of a quiet beach, lets stay right on the boardwalk and enjoy the excitement!" This is where things went terribly wrong. Stress galore:

  • Hours of looking for a reasonably priced cabin with 3 bedrooms, and hotel room with 3 beds and a kitchenette
  • Deposits paid in full that were nonrefundable
  • Daughter not being able to get out of one class to come with us
  • Trying to find flights that she could make to meet us
  • Looking for travel insurance that in the end wouldn't help us
  • Deciding to forsake the partial deposit in Myrtle Beach and go to Gatlinburg without her
  • Looking for another weekend later in summer to go as a family
  • Deciding whether to rent a car or fix the brakes on one of ours to take with us
  • Looking for activities to keep our son occupied as the "only child" (a first for any of our vacations)
  • Deciding where to stop overnight to break up the drive, while still making it a worthwhile stop
  • All my fault for being too much of a planner!!

Yes, looking back over the list, I am too much of a planner. If I would have just let things unfold, and looked for a place to stay closer to our departure date, almost the entire list would have gone away. I need to learn to let it go. I need to learn to go with the flow. I need to learn to not plan so much!

Here are some strategies I am going to adopt for this trip to lessen the vacation planning stress I currently feel: 

1. Have ideas, but be flexible in the itinerary. I have researched a few things to do, have made a list of possibilities, and then will go from there. Our Smartphones will allow us to book things the day before, or just show up and see what happens. There will be plenty of booklets/advertisements offering great adventures once we get there. 

2. Return before the following weekend to relax at home before rushing back in to work. We will return on a Thursday, much better than our original plans to return Sunday night. I will get a mini-vacation at home to ease back into real life. 

3. Eat wherever, but look for real food options. We have a full kitchen in our cabin, but I am not going to stress over grocery shopping and making full meals. In fact, we may shop as we go. We may also eat out. Either way, as long as I stick to eating real food, (no noodles, bread, or other processed food) I should feel good, which is important to me. 

4. Pack light and do some laundry there. The cabin has a washer and dryer. I plan to use them to lessen the laundry pile when we get home and to allow us to pack less. Even one load done on Tuesday night will help. 

5. Enjoy the moment! This is so hard for me to do as a planner. I need to remind myself that anything we get to do is a bonus. There is nothing that I will regret missing. Also, I need to put away my phone. Maybe I will put it on super power saver so I only get phone calls and texts. Being present with my family is something I want to really strive for. 

Are you planning a vacation in the near future? Try one of the above ideas and see if it helps lessen your vacation planning stress.