It’s summer vacation planning time, and it has me in a tizzy. I love the act of designing a summer trip, filled with excitement and adventure and beautiful spaces that will make our mouths gape so wide open that some exotic insect buzzes in and ruins the moment.
But with the excitement comes the stress and the pressure and the fear of getting it right. Knowing that if not planned perfectly, it will all go wrong. And if it does, my daughter will tell the story for the rest of her life. “So, after he drove the rental car into the swelling river, he blurted out, ‘Oh no! I left my wallet at the truck stop!’ A beaver on the shore was laughing at us.”
For chronic worriers, vacation planning can be a nightmare. A tale of excitement and dread. But as I venture into my annual travelers’ panic attack, I came across a Wall Street Journal titled: “You’re a worrier? Don’t worry.” It looked at why we worriers “over-worry,” and laid out some handy steps to help us stop. So, as I dig into travel books and web sites, I’ve decided to use some of this advice to help me with my vacation planning:
• Is the concern as serious as I think it is? Meaning, if my vacation turns sour, will my family really leave me stranded on the side of a lonely road while they check into a 5-star hotel and get strawberry-scented pedicures? Probably not. At least not if there is bad WIFI service and they can’t pull up Google maps. Note to self: look for remote, isolated locations.
• Come up with a detailed plan to make it seem more controllable. I like that. Although, I already come up with ultra-detailed plans that get too deep down into the minutiae — “ … arrive at restaurant, put napkin in lap, ask for more bread because my daughter already ate it all.” Is that too detailed? Maybe skip to the other extreme and do no planning? Or just leave out the part about asking for more bread?
• Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” … aside from being eaten by a bear, because that’s pretty bad and could happen. Or checking into a place like the Bates Motel run by a creepy guy who keeps his taxidermied mother in the upstairs window. Or unknowingly booking a place right next to one of those failing California dams because the Internet description read, “Wake up to tranquil sounds of rushing water …” Better yet, let me just skip asking myself about the worst things that could happen.
• Come up with a better story than the negative one that is playing in my head. For instance, instead of seeing the downside of being next to that disastrous, failing dam, think about how once the National Guard helicopter pulls us to safety, the authorities will probably put us up in a nice hotel for free. And they might have strawberry-scented pedicures so my family can forget all about our failed, miserable vacation. Now, that’s a plan!