|(Pic: Karen Arnold/PublicDomainPictures.net)|
Here are the six stages that define a family vacation:
Stage 1 - Preparation
You begin planning weeks in advance. You already have a list of places to visit, weather forecasts and things to pack. You embark on pre-holiday shopping which sometimes gets out of hand, but mostly things are under control.
Stage 2 - Panic
This happens between five to ten days before departure. You suddenly remember about a hundred things you haven't done, a family member catches a cold and you have half-packed suitcases everywhere. You don't how you are going to make it to the airport, because at this stage, that's your main goal.
Stage 3 - The Travel
Whether you're flying or taking a road trip, the mere thought of seating your kids in a place they can't run out of has been giving you sleepless nights. There's only one rule about family travel - however prepared you are, something unexpected will always happen. But somehow you survive (there's only a little vomit and tears) and you arrive at your destination.
Stage 4 - Memories
You actually feel like an Olympics champion once you get there, because only you know how you made it. The new surroundings and not having to think of laundry and dirty dishes lifts of your spirits and you proceed to have a good time. Memories are made. Photos are taken. Everyone is smiling.
Stage 5 - The Wearing Off
Two days before you're due to return, you realize you have aching legs from trying to catch up with the excited kids. You've probably dealt with a few meltdowns and fights, and you're actually thinking of going back home. Just so you can stay in all day. It's kind of ironic.
Stage 6 - Ugly Mess
Nobody wants to think about this part. You come home (via a flight/road trip that was less eventful) to grumpy faces who don't want to back to school or work. Apart from that, you have a get dinner going and wash a truckload of laundry. Unpacking seems like the cruelest part of the vacation, because you don't know what you're going to find in there!
It just makes you want to run off on another holiday, and you start daydreaming....