1) Have a family meeting to decide where you will go. Try to pick a destination which offers something for everyone from Dad who only wants to lie in a hammock and drink something alcoholic while listening to the games of his favorite sports team; to the teenagers who want to be any where except where their parents are; to the toddlers who are more interested in the ground level attractions like insects and discarded chewing gum, than they are in any sort of scenery.
2) When you realize no such destination exists, draw straws. Shortest straw gets to spin the family globe while blindfolded and point to a destination. If it’s in the middle of an ocean, the nearest land mass will do.
3) No matter how unlikely the selected destination is, come together in a family spirit of “making the best of it.” Being a family, after all, means growing together as a family and a bit of planning will help overcome whatever challenges lie ahead.
4) If your fated destination decrees that you will be vacationing near relatives, insist on a visit to let the kids know where they came from. If the relatives happen to be considerably older, with a home full of treasured mementos from years gone by, even better. The toddlers will have plenty with which to entertain themselves, and the teens will have plenty to ask their elders about!
5) If your fated destination decrees that you all end up in a totally foreign part of the world, insist to the kids that it will be an educational experience they’ll treasure for the rest of their lives. That is sure to have them dizzy with anticipation as they throw themselves into the task of planning what to see and do.
6) Plan each day’s itinerary down to the second, because you don’t want the kids to miss a minute their once-in-a-lifetime vacation experience. To make sure they are enjoying themselves to the fullest, see that the family stays together at all times, and thoroughly discusses the importance of what they’ve learned each evening.
7) Teach the kids to be savvy travelers by packing a minimum of clothes which they can wash as needed the hotel bathroom sink, or if you’ve managed to track down those distant relatives, wait until you get to their house and ask your hostess to do a batch of laundry.
8) If your family trip requires you to travel by car, let Dad set the pace. When he announces that everyone had better eat hearty and do his or her personal business before leaving home, because there will be no food or relief stops, explain to the children that the real family fun won’t begin until you get to your destination. That’s why Dad is in such a hurry.
9) Leave the cell phones at home, so that the teenagers won’t spend all their time running up roaming charges talking to friends who aren’t sharing their horizon-broadening vacation. It should be no problem figuring out what to do if the hotel phone service gets shut off for climactic or political reasons.
10) If the only camera your family has is a camera cell phone, bring it along, but keep it out of sight by restricting yourself to shooting photos either when none of your family is looking, or when all of them are asleep. Catching them in their unguarded moments is sure to make them love you forever.
Sunday, October 20, 2013