I, like most people, love the anticipation of an upcoming vacation. Spending some quality time with the family. A warm climate. Removed from all the demands of a work environment. Sounds perfect, right?
Well, in theory it does. And I’ll admit that most of my vacations have been close to perfect, ridiculously good. Most of them have included picturesque settings, sensational accommodations, great friends, fantastic entertainment, and an overindulgence of great food and alcoholic beverages. Can’t forget the alcoholic beverages. (Maybe that’s why I remember my vacations to be so good?)
Yes, I’ve been fortunate enough to have experienced almost perfect vacations. However, my most recent vacation happened to be my worst vacation yet. I’m hopeful it was an anomaly and not the beginning of a series of terrible vacations, God’s way of balancing the good with the bad.
Following is a short list of my tribulations from last summer.
1. Planning. Statistics support the notion that the planning stage of a family vacation can be very stressful. I concur. At least that’s the case with my family. After several months of trying to find a destination that all four members agreed upon, I was more than ready for a vacation – alone. The kids are older now and provide input; with disparate interests, they couldn’t seem to agree on a destination. What should have been an exciting process turned out to be extremely exhausting.
2. Myrtle Beach. That’s what we eventually decided on. That’s not really where I wanted to go. And it certainly isn’t where I wanted to DRIVE to. I have no interest in spending my vacation anywhere that’s remotely commercial. That’s what I want to get away from. I don’t want to shop. And I especially don’t want to shop for t-shirts, coffee mugs and ball caps. I know I may come across as supercilious, but I’m not suggesting there’s anything wrong with it – it’s just not me. But I also don’t like Disneyland. When I’m on vacation, I want to relax or engage in sports.
3. The drive there. Driving was not my idea. The kids wanted to recreate experiences from earlier trips to Florida. They wanted to watch movies in the car, and stay at a couple of hotels along the way to enjoy the indoor pools. It turns out the kids somehow forgot about their significant growth spurts since the last road trip. The drive isn’t nearly as tolerable when your body is a couple of feet longer. The pools they remembered as large now seemed the size of bathtubs, and held their attention for all of about ten minutes. I thought I had forever left behind car trips punctuated with frequent stops to eat, pee or stretch. Apparently not. Oh, and crying. Yes, it had all returned.
4. Room mix-up. The large suite we booked (with two rooms and three beds) was apparently unavailable. Despite my imploring (which, I’m afraid, came awfully close to weeping), a suite wasn’t made available to us until day three. Until then we all shared a room with two double beds. It made for a difficult couple of nights.
5. Broken air-conditioner. On the second night our air-conditioner broke down. Although it was repaired late that night, it was unbearably hot during the day and most of that night. Coupled with No. 4 above, the unpleasant meter was now at ‘High’.
6. Jellyfish. I’m not sure if it was an uncommonly popular week for them, but there were many. When I wasn’t treating my own stings I seemed to be witnessing parents attending to the stings of their crying kids.
7. My wallet. It was there one minute, gone the next. I don’t think I need to say any more about how painful this can be.
8. The drive back. I was dreading the drive back, and it loomed large a couple days before departure. Although most people experience a “return trip effect” that makes their drive home seem shorter than the drive to their vacation spot, I usually experience the exact opposite. The trip home always seems much longer. And our respective fuses always seem a lot shorter. Not a good combination. Now imagine a flat tire 80 km from home. I’m not kidding.
I know it’s hard to complain about a vacation. After all, Myrtle Beach isn’t all that bad and there was much to enjoy. I realize that I can be melodramatic. It’s just that, relative to my other vacations, this one was terrible. So please, don’t judge me too harshly. I don’t know any better. I’m sorry.
What about you? What unpleasant experiences have you had while on vacation?