Time for summer vacation planning 101

Now comes the time when talk turns to getting out of town like you’ve robbed a bank. Travel books come home from the library. Credit cards are polished and prayed over — “Please have money on you! Please!”

It’s vacation-planning season. Time to start thinking about where to go, how to get there and most of all, how to screw it up when you arrive. I love vacation-planning. Almost as much as the trip itself. So as we all ready for excursions, here are some planning tips from my years of experience:

• Make sure you get your dates wrong. You know, make a hotel reservation in some far-off land with checkin the day AFTER you get there. I did this once. My wife and I were going to the Keys. We had booked a house in the historic area. (I say “we” liberally. I was the culprit.) When we got there, they told us “we” weren’t expected until the next day. Nothing is more relaxing than starting a vacation homeless.

• Pick a place with lots of wildlife. Indoors! Like the cabin we rented in the North Carolina mountains a couple years ago. Beautiful place. Little stream running by. Luscious landscape. And at night, flying squirrels used the rafters for dune buggy races. Mountain avalanches make less noise. We expected to click on the lights to find base-jumping squirrels leaping off the giant deer antlers perched above the living room. “Yippeee!” My daughter still asks if we can go back there.

• Make sure you follow your GPS directions without question. This is a great way to show your family abandoned logging roads, washed-out creeks, violent parts of towns and golf cart pathways that lead off the sides of cliffs.

• Make sure you plan your vacation to coincide with major sporting events that only come around every 4 years. Like this summer’s World Cup. That way your family will totally resent you when they realize all activities are being scheduled around games. “What do you mean we can’t go to Magic Kingdom until midnight?!? Why are we spending the day at this bar?”

• Don’t relax on your vacation. Go full throttle. Like you have 15 minutes left to live. See if you can do crazy things, like explore three entire states in two days. Scream “Go! Go! Go!” all the time. Give yourself an ulcer. If you don’t need a vacation after your vacation, then you’ve done something wrong.

• Make a budget before you go. This will provide levity when you return and realize you spent four times as much because you forgot to the carry the 1 in your calculations.

• Have some fun. Always be in good spirits. Stay positive and relaxed and light. And if your family asks “Are we there yet?” just pull over and say, “We are now!”

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