Planning Gone Wrong: Things to Avoid

Don’t skimp on your planning.  While meandering down a new road to see what you can see sounds romantic and lovely, it rarely turns out that way.  More likely, you may meander to a lack of gas stations and places to make a pit stop for your whining toddler, wander into a restaurant that is too expensive or not family friendly, or find yourself with nothing to do or too many choices leading to decision-paralysis.  Plan your days, albeit loosely, and identify several options that could work for food and sightseeing on your route and throughout your time at your destination.

Don’t over-plan.  Some of us are more likely to fall into the opposite trap of planning down to the minute, with days packed full of excursions and no room for spontaneity (or unexpected challenges that may come up.)  Especially if you are traveling with a big family, choose only a couple of activities per day, with some back ups that take weather and time into consideration (Sometimes attractions take a longer or shorter time than expected to enjoy).  Check out the food options, but have one or two in mind that will work for your family if others fail.  Plan carefully, but don’t overdo it.

Don’t force yourself to stick to the plan.  We once flew to Canada after missing a flight and in the midst of hand, food and mouth disease (it didn’t even cross my blissfully ignorant, pre-COVID mind that we might spread it to other passengers), because I was too stubborn to change plans.  It would have been much quicker and less painful to drive. All this to say that flexibility is key!  Sometimes plans should give way to better plans, and it does no good to hang on to something that is just not working.

Most importantly, don’t expect everything to go according to plan!  Anticipation and excitement leading up to a vacation are part of the fun, and it’s great to savor the experience this way.  But expecting that everything will go perfectly is another matter.  Expect the unexpected, and don’t expect perfection.  There will most certainly be some wonderful moments on your family vacation, but there will likely to be some challenging ones too, and that’s totally OK.  Look at those moments as opportunities for growth and learning, and for teachable moments to show our kids how to problem-solve and maintain a positive outlook even when they might be feeling tried, grumpy, hungry or stressed.  Then get back to enjoying yourselves!

Finally, don’t forget to laugh.  And in the spirit of laughter, please feel free to laugh at my misfortune in our big trip to Mexico – it wasn’t the first time I became severely ill south of the USA, but I sincerely hope it will be the last…