Monday, July 6, 2009

What I Learned from Summer Vacation

1. Four out of Five airsickness bags on any given airplane will have been sealed shut by previous thoughtful travelers using wads of chewed gum.

1a. This fact is most commonly discovered when your three-year-old is holding a mouthful of puke and turning purple while you frantically search for that one unsealed airsickness bag.


2. Bring your own headphones. The ones the airline sells for a dollar aren't worth that much.

2a. Cramming seven sets of cheap airline headphones in your pocket ensures that you will have something to occupy you for at least an hour when your kids want to listen to the movie on the next flight. Rat's nest doesn't begin to describe that mess.

3. Used Car salesmen are slick. Lawyers are slick. Politicians are slick. Rental car agents selling the extra insurance make them all pale in comparison. Seriously.

4. No matter what GPS and Google might say about travel time, when traveling with five children, double it. Then add two more hours. And bring a change of clothes. For everyone.

5. When debating whether to stop at the rest stop or not. Stop. Always. No matter how peacefully the baby is sleeping. The alternative is a seven year old peeing into the ditch while eighteen wheelers blow past at eighty miles an hour.

5a. Or a soda bottle in the back seat.

6. What happens in Vegas... is that WAY too many people really believe that just being in city limits entitles them to entirely turn their brains off and act like utter and complete animals. Then, with no sense of human intelligence whatsoever, they pack themselves into smoke filled caverns filled with mesmerizing money extracting devices and sit in place for hours consuming alcoholic beverages. This is called "fun".

6a. Also, in Vegas, "family friendly" means that the go-go girls are wearing tops.

7. There is a reason that hotel rooms at Casinos are so cheap. Because the only thing included in the price is the actual bed. Everything else, including the keycard to get in the room is extra. Kinda brings a certain clarity to those Holiday Inn Express commercials.

8. Paying $90 dollars to check luggage is mildly painful. Trying to carry-on that same amount of luggage in a pitiful attempt to knock it down to $30 is almost life-threatening. Don't do it. Grumble at the airlines for charging you, yell at the ticket counter people, but then pay the money and don't try to put yourself, five kids and twelve bags through the security screening. I am pretty sure the airline already had this figured out before they decided to start charging you for checked bags.

8a. The feeling in your hands returns after a few days. I don't think the damage is permanent. (I hope...)

9. Your perfectly calm, perfectly house-trained dog will go nuts while you are on vacation. If you tell the pet-sitters to put her in the garage to prevent any more "accidents" on the rugs upstairs, she will proceed to destroy the cat door trying to get back in the house.

(Remember when you thought it was cute that she stuck her head through the cat door when you shut her in the garage? Never thought she actually believed she could fit through that door did you?)

9a. Also, if you close all the bedroom doors, you only have to clean up the stains on the hallway carpet instead of every single floor of every single bedroom. Lonely dogs are VERY thorough.

10. Vacation is not really a break from stress. It is just trading the everday stress of life for an altogether new and surprising kind of stress. It is living out of a suitcase, having no set schedule for eating or sleeping, spending money because you have no choice, or because you don't have time to think about it. It is trying your best to visit all of the places, people and things you don't have time for during normal life, and failing to do half of what you planned. It is exhausting, exhilirating, frustrating, exciting, confusing, and most of all expensive. But when you finally pull into the driveway after it is over, you finally understand what vacation is all about:

Reminding you how great your everyday mundane life is, and how much you are excited to return to it.

10a. But that still doesn't mean I want to take another one for at least five years. At least not until all of the kids are old enough to drag their own carry-on luggage through security.
Article and Image © 2009 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved


  1. I've really come to the conclusion that it is best to carry one small bag with necessary medications (and/or a diaper bag) and a change of undies, and then hit Wal-Mart at the destination and buy clothes there. Then ship them back at the end of vacation or donate them. Air travel is horrible nowadays.

  2. I am so glad my kids were both older by the time we flew anywhere. Wow.