Vacation [vey-key-shuhn]: 1. A period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest or travel. 2. Freedom or release from duty, business, or activity.
Isn’t it great to see things slowly getting back to normal? Planning a vacation any time soon? Are you a mom? Are your kids going to be joining you on this post-pandemic freedom adventure? Then I’m here to be your abrupt slap in the face. You’re going on a trip, not a vacation. A trip is defined as a journey between two points. Very, VERY different.
I’m sorry. I don’t mean to rain on your parade, I just want you to set your expectations low. Like very low. Those moms that sashay into their vacation with lofty hopes and high-priced manicures will inevitably end up with unexpected feelings of regret and disappointment, which often lead to resentment of all the things that live and breathe around them. To avoid this confusion, I have outlined below some of the key distinctions between a trip and vacation. Take a look and then you decide which one you’re about to embark on. We’ve all been cooped up for over a year, so decide wisely.
Let’s start at the beginning. Packing. Do you have a box of baggies out? Do you have a bag for sunscreen, meds, and snacks? Did you just pack extra baggies for wet bathing suits and potential vomit? Are there SPF 50 swim shirts in a stack next to a pile of tangled goggles? Do you have a puddle-jumper clipped on to a bag anywhere? Bottles? Sippy cups? Swim diapers? Wipes? Binkies? Did you pack a sound machine, kid-grade melatonin and disposable blackout shades? All of these are telltale signs that you are packing for a trip, my friend.
Next up….Where are you staying? Are you in a place that has a kitchen and a dishwasher? Is there a washer and dryer? Do you know where the local grocery stores, farmers markets and, most importantly, the liquor stores are? Uh oh. You’ve just suffered from a job relocation. Even worse– Are you in a hotel room with two double beds and no access to an adjoining room? Do you have a simultaneous lights out at 8:30, a little person kicking you all night long, and nowhere to run when somebody pees the bed? Guess what? You’re most definitely on a trip, not a vacation.
Do you have planned excursions and an itinerary? Do they include anything like an aquarium, some ancient ruins, or a jungle tour? Do you plan on renting snorkel gear, jet skis, kayaks or a paddleboat? Are there gift shops? And have you given the “This-will-be-so-much-fun” pep talk or the “You-don’t-know-how-good-you-have-it” lecture? I feel like you know where this is heading….trip, not a vacation.
Now, let’s not forget the kids. Or as I like to call them, the reasons trips are not vacations. Have they argued about who is going to sit where? And I don’t just mean on the plane or in the car. I mean EVERYWHERE YOU GO. On the beach, at the pool, on the ski lift, at the restaurant, on the tour bus, on the boat, and on your lap? Have they cried, screamed bloody murder, or run away for every single sunscreen application? Have you inadvertently sprayed strangers with organic SPF 100+ while chasing your child around? After the chase, have you then asked if the bar is open yet? Even though it’s only 10:00am? Have you brought your blessings to a 5-star kids club, only to have them react like Linda Blair in the Exorcist? Congratulations, your children have brought you on a freaking trip.
So I guess all of this begs the question, then what IS a vacation? It’s travel to a place other than your home and doesn’t include a single thing mentioned above. It includes bringing a novel of your choice to actually read, lazy cocktails on the beach, naps, making friends at swim-up bars, more naps, and quiet dinners without arguing with anyone to put on a collared shirt. Honestly, a vacation means leaving the kids at home. I’m not saying that family vacations aren’t amazing. They absolutely are. But let’s please start calling them what they are. Trips. They are trips, people.
Until the end of time, us moms will continue to sherpa our way through the airports, declare victory after each sunscreen battle and quietly do our daily routine in other locations all for the sake of creating a magical childhood for our beloveds. It’s what we do.
But let’s be honest, we all deserve a damn vacation.
Happy Mother’s Day, Moms. Here’s to you and all the wonderful trips and vacations that lie ahead.