You’ve spent weeks planning for your fabulous family vacation. The kids are out of school, Dad got time off work, and Mom scored a great hotel discount online. Seven days later you’re back home, frazzled, exhausted, and swearing never to do it again. What went wrong? Our Top Ten list of the worst things about family vacations.
1. Something always gets left behind when you pack. No matter how much careful shopping, organizing, packing, washing, drying, folding, sorting, labeling, alphabetizing, and general planning you did — something always ends up getting lost in the mix. Sometimes it’s a Favorite Toy, sometimes it’s a phone charger, sometimes it’s spare batteries for the all-important electronic device your teen cannot survive without, and sometimes it’s the directions to the hotel whose name you’ve already forgotten but it might start with an H. Or a P.
2. Someone always get sick. Navigating health care, doctors, and medical insurance is difficult enough back home, never mind doing it in a new location. It’s miserable for the patient, stressful for the caretaker, and uncomfortable for anyone sharing a car journey with someone who can’t stop throwing up.
3. There’s always drama back at the office. It’s a sure thing: from the moment you back out of your driveway you will be inundated with frantic ALL CAPS emails, text messages, and voice mails about some matter of vital importance that only you can solve.
4. There’s always drama at the hotel. Another sure thing: someone will break the TV remote, block a toilet, upset the concierge, elicit a noise complaint from the adjacent room, or leave something revolting in a dresser drawer.
5. Your kids will behave far worse than they do at home. Is it something about the freedom of the road? The lazy indulgence of a day with no deadlines? Whatever the reason, kids can go one of two ways on a family vacation — let loose and have fun, or argue constantly. Guess which one is most likely to happen when an entire family is packed together 24/7?
6. Your teenage daughter will fall in love. Like, for real. Just when you thought she had made some nice new girlfriends, along comes Johnny from Brooklyn. The dreaded holiday romance. Fun for teens, agonizing for adults. From this moment on she will no longer participate willingly in any part of your family vacation, nor recognize you as her parents.
7. You will miss the one thing you actually wanted to see. Tickets to see Celine in Vegas… Sorry! Got the date wrong! Had to tend to a sickly child! Ran out of gas on the freeway! Fell asleep! Folks, it’s all possible.
8. You will suffer one or more of the following: delayed flight, lost baggage, overbooked hotel, “lost” car reservation, rejection of credit card, theft of property from a hotel room… any more for any more?
9. It costs a fortune. Unforeseen hotel fees or transportation expenses, fees for museums, shows, theme parks, plus snacks, lunch, souvenirs… parents are constantly having to reach for their wallet. It takes a very firm hand to deny every vacation request, so even if you try to stick to your budget you will undoubtedly still overspend.
10. No one ever appreciates it. After all that effort, do you have anything to show for it other than sulky family photos and an empty bank account? Your pre-teen was way too cool to even attempt enthusiasm, your son never looked up from his X-box and your Kindergartner was more interested in snacks than in pretty views. At least you and your spouse enjoyed some quality time together. Right?