6 stages of a family vacation

(Pic: Karen Arnold/
Why is it that a vacation meant everything relaxing and carefree not long ago, but now it's about planning, re-planning, worrying and packing enough diapers? I don't know if the family vacation is a 'vacation' in the strictest sense, but if your children have a good time, it's worth it, right? Needless to say, behind every successful family vacation is at least one parent who's spent hours doing all of things above just so everybody can stay safe, and sane. It's not easy but you do get rewarded with long-lasting memories, and great photos!

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....

This post has been linked to the Hump Day Hook Up.

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Cathie B said...

Oh so true - we're going on our first 'proper' family holiday next year - 2 weeks in Portugal and I'll be checking back to this post to make sure I've done everything!!!! #PoCoLo

Tarana Khan said...

All the best for your vacation, I hope you have good fun!

Unknown said...

This is so very very true! I just need a holiday thinking about all of this! I remember going away on my own with Grace when she was 3 and it was a real adventure sport! Thank you for linking to PoCoLo x

Tarana Khan said...

That must have been quite an adventure!

Jody said...

I love this post - yes these days I often need a vacation from my vacations.

Tarana Khan said...

Haha, glad you agree!

Hannah Johansson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I hate phase 6- mine sometimes lasts a week or more. That is especially sas if the vacation itself was only a long weekend at the beach a mere 2 hours away! Over here from hump day hook up!

Unknown said...

I remember #6- The Ugly Mess. I always made a meal in advance of the trip and put it in the freezer, that way, when we returned, a quick pop in the oven produced a nice dinner and we settled back in comfortably.

Tarana Khan said...

Actually, yes, even the shortest trips seem to generate big laundry piles!

Tarana Khan said...

That's such a good idea - thanks for the tip!

Unknown said...

Still worth every moment! I love family vacations. Thanks for hooking up to the Hump Day Hook Up

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