It seemed a lot easier back in the day to go on vacation when we were kids. But, then again, that’s from kid’s perspective.
I’m sure mom and dad worked hard to make it all work out, but from the view at ground level, it didn’t seem too hard at all.
Dad piled us into the station wagon. How hard is that? Yup, the one with the seat facing backwards towards the tailgate.
We sang along to an AM car radio. Or themes to TV shows. Dad and mom sang along with us. Corny? Not then!
On the car roof was one of those canvas rooftop carriers. It held the musty Sears Roebuck tent and those sleeping bags that had flannel insides printed with moose and jumping fish.
Mom always made magic happen.
To this day, I would swear she got the entire family’s clothes into one single giant suitcase. One coat. One pair of Redball Jet or P.F. Flyer high-top tennis shoes. Some jeans and your swim shorts. That’s all you needed.
Mom produced wonderful meals. Picnics emerged daily from a single dented and scratched green Coleman ice chest.
Could it have really been that simple?
Fast forward to family vacation 21st Century. You’ve gotta be kidding.
You’ve been planning for months. You’re finally eschewing the annual fishing “man-cation” with your posse of buddies and you’re gonna bite the bullet and take the family clan.
You knew in your heart it was time.
You couldn’t keep coming home and telling ‘em what a great place Baja is…then possibly hope to keep it to yourself. Every bastion…every frontier must eventually fall.
So, somewhat reluctantly you acquiesced to your wife’s suggestion, “Honey, I think you should take me and the kids with you to Baja this year! Maybe your mom and dad want to come too!”
Eventually, you got into it, but now as you’re about to embark, there’s some trepidation and, admit it, some of the excitement is tarnishing. It’s indeed NOT like heading south with the boys.
You survey the mound of matched designer luggage, backpacks, duffels, and cosmetic bags, that make your ice chest and fishing tube look like they don’t belong.
Matched outfits. Matched shoes. Several bathing suits. Technology and the attenuant cords, cables and chargers for iphones, ipads, notebooks, tablets, laptops, smart phones and cameras. Per person!
That doesn’t begin to include the toys…snorkel gear…golf bags…surfboards…tackle boxes and of course, that 8’ long rod tube. Holy cow, you need a parade of Napalese sherpas to schlepp it all.
And, assuming you’ve survived the journey and made it to Baja, you’re again reminded that it’s NOT gonna be your regular trip with the boys.
“Why do we have to get up that early to go fishing? Isn’t it OK if we go AFTER lunch?”
“All the TV shows are in Spanish!”
“I can’t believe the internet is soooo slow in Mexico! How can I skype my boyfriend or watch youtube?”
We have to change hotels, a gecko lizard keeps running across the wall. It’s icky!”
“You actually eat the fish the same day you catch it?” Can we just have McDonald’s like at home?”
“No room service or hair dryers?”
You can’t just throw up your hands and head to the bar. That’s not gonna earn you any family points at all.
Here’s what it all comes down to…EXPECTATIONS!
Yessiree, this is NOT like vacation with the guys so know everyone’s expectations about this trip. Then plan accordingly and alter YOUR expectations so everyone has a good time.
You may have to cut down on the fishing a bit if the whole family isn’t into it. Or, make them easy days of fishing if they’re new to it.
No need to be hardcore if it only makes everyone miserable. And, if you do go fishing, or any other activities, remember, it’s about THEM, not about you. If everyone has a good time, you’ll have a better time too.
So often, I’ve seen guys, or sometimes even both parents, get on a boat and literally expect the captain and deckhands be the babysitters or watch the kids while mom and dad do their thing. No bueno. Taking care of your kids is not their job.
If you’re gonna go someplace rustic, make sure the family knows you’re not staying at the Four Seasons or the Ritz. Or even the Best Western. There might not be shopping, or fancy restaurants or a gourmet menu, etc. Or a spa!
If it’s really a deal breaker, either make other arrangements or spend some time on a day trip or something similar so that you can take them shopping, dining or other activities everyone will enjoy.
And, that’s a key too. Do stuff everyone will enjoy. Do things and go places that are age and activity appropriate.
For example, hanging out all afternoon on certain parts of Medano Beach in Cabo San Lucas with lots of drunk gringos at Spring Break, might not be the best idea if you’ve got young kids.
By, the same token, if the glass bottom boat tour or zip-lining aren’t your thing, but the family really wants to do it, suck it up. Put on a smile and set it up. You just might enjoy it.
This also goes if you’re bringing along say…mom and dad or older folks. Include them in the activities and family fun.
For Pete’s sake, don’t park them out in the hot sun at the pool then run off and leave them! Your dad might love sitting by the water watching string bikinis, but if he gets heat-stroked, it’s gonna ruin a lot of vacation.
And don’t forget to keep them hydrated, especially in Baja. Don’t laugh, I see this happen quite often! Older folks need special care…and their meds!
If all else fails, shrug your shoulders. Surrender. Smile. You’re not gonna win. Do what dads and husbands have done for centuries. Smile and say, “Yes, dear!”