When you’ve worked hard all year, saved your money, dragged yourself through the dreary winter days with visions of white sand beaches and fruit daiquiris, it’s important that your vacation — when it finally comes — is absolutely perfect. But when you’ve placed a year’s worth of dreams and expectations on a single trip, plenty can go wrong.
Avoiding serious blunders will make you and your family feel like the small snafus are no big deal; it’ll keep your holiday happy and stress-free. Here are four mistakes you absolutely do not want to make.
1. Leaving your home … alone
This is a vital point. When preparing for any trip over four days long, take the time and make the effort to locate a trustworthy, mature, and familiar housesitter.
If you have pets, hiring a housesitter is a necessity, and a dramatic advantage over a kennel. Many kennels have too many animals and not enough space, and if your dog or cat is used to being treated with respect and kindness, your pet may go into a kind of depression or shock.
Remember, your furry friend won’t understand that the kennel is temporary. This can affect its long-term health and alter its personality — and all for an outrageously high fee. Hire a family friend who’s familiar with your pet(s) to stay in the house. That ensure you and your favorite animal(s) peace of mind.
If you are pet-less, a housesitter is still a good idea. The person will be a deterrent to burglars, can check your mail, and make sure you turned the oven and coffeepot off and closed the garage door. All these small concerns are better left behind when you go on vacation. You never know what could happen to your house when you leave, so a sitter — a trusted one, not a neighborhood teen who throws nightly parties — is essential.
2. Forgetting to pack your health
So, you’re packed and ready to go, you’ve got your ducks in a row at work, your housesitter is the most boring, reliable, and pet-loving person you know, and you’re headed to the airport.
That’s when it happens. That little scratch you’ve been feeling in the back of your throat since yesterday turns into a full-fledged cough. Suddenly your head hurts, you’re sneezing, and your entire body aches.
If you were at work, you’d want to stay in bed for a week; but nothing ruins a vacation like being sick. If you want to see more than the hotel room on your trip, make sure you maintain your health before you leave.
Vacation planning and preparation can increase stress, not surprisingly, and that weakens the immune system. To avoid sickness, boost your immune system for the two weeks preceding the trip by eating foods high in antioxidants, getting good exercise and sleep, and supplementing your diet with an immune-system enhancing multivitamin.
3. Losing everything with your luggage
Almost everyone who flies has lost luggage at least once. Bag checks cost an extra twenty-five dollars, so it’s no wonder many people try to carry their suitcases on board.
But there’s a smart compromise between lugging around a bag full of wardrobe changes, and crossing your fingers at the luggage carousel. Packing a smart carry-on, one that contains your necessities (toothbrush, sunscreen, undergarments) as well as a comfortable change of clothing and shoes (and if your vacation is beach/pool oriented, a swimsuit), will protect you from blowing your cool when your luggage goes missing.
If your bags don’t turn up at the other end of your flight, notify the airport, give them your hotel contact information, and enjoy your trip. Most lost bags turn up eventually, and if you didn’t pack anything you can’t survive without, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when your found suitcase is delivered to your room.
4. Fighting it out
Sadly, many families don’t manage the sudden intimacy of a group vacation too well. While you may get along fine at home, during a vacation, peace and harmony can turn into nitpicking and arguing. The reasons are simple, and a couple of simple precautions can help a lot.
First, most families live in homes where individual members have their own private spaces. But when a family goes on vacation, living quarters are usually shared.
Say you have a family of four, sharing one hotel room with two queen-sized beds. This works in theory, but in reality no one has his own space, and anxiety and tension can build from this lack of privacy.
If you’ve got children who are old enough to be unsupervised through the night, rent a separate room for them to share (but make sure it’s near to or adjoining your own room). This will automatically strengthen the peace.
Second, allow each member the freedom to do personal activities, or decide what the group activity will be for the day. In your routine lives, it’s unlikely that one person tyrannically rules over the rest for twelve hours a day, so why should you try to plan everyone’s vacation time for them?
Instituting a democracy, and allowing individuals to opt out of activities they really don’t want to participate in, will keep everyone feeling happy and respected.