Worrying My Way to a Vacation

Posted on September 17, 2012

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The art of worrying comes with being a mother and lasts as long as you remain one. When it comes to getting away on a bonafide vacation, not just for a long weekend, it’s all about checklists, post-it notes and reminders – and still something will undoubtedly get missed. I envy people who can plan a vacation on the calendar and then, with seemingly effortless ability, complete all the items on the to-do list with a comfortable 48 hours to spare before departure. Honestly, I used to be pretty good at just that, even organizing four of us when our kids travelled with us. Now, apparently, my skill for pre-travel arrangements and suitcase organizing has mysteriously gone missing – just like a piece of luggage on one trip abroad. Put simply, I worry enough so that others don’t need to.

My problem stems from diaper bag obsession that’s nested deep inside my insecure brain. The short version of the story (religiously drilled into me by my own mother) goes like this: you have to be prepared for at least a dozen different scenarios with an infant/child in tow, so pack up all the sundries in the diaper bag just in case. That’s just in case you’re caught in a bug-ridden swamp, you’ll have bug repellent handy, antiseptic and bandages if necessary, a change of clothes for the wee one, toys to keep the little person entertained, some snacks, a beach towel in case you get wet, a directory of emergency phone numbers if medical help is needed, etc., etc., etc. You get the idea, right? As a child, I was amazed at all the crazy things that somehow resided in my mom’s handbag. And that was even before I saw “Mary Poppins” and her magical carpet bag!

What wonders I could do with a bottomless carpet bag …

So in my heart I still want to be prepared for the “whatever” scenario, while wrestling with the ever-changing weight and size restrictions set out by the airlines. My dear Hubby constantly needles me that we’re not travelling to outer Mongolia or the Amazon rainforest and that we can readily find emergency “stuff” if need be in the larger centres. I think: Hmmm … I wonder what kind of shoes and apparel might one wear while crossing the desert on a camel? Besides, I should pack some hand sanitizer, especially if that camel spits in my hand. Really, is it so wrong to pack a few extra comforts from home? It certainly doesn’t help the anxiety level, either when you factor in that both Hubby and I have had spells of being accident prone. (Leg braces and crutches shouldn’t be items you have to consider when packing for a trip.)

Over the years, the optimal trip plans (and often best vacations) started with loads of lead time. Regrettably, our work schedules don’t always allow for that. Travel arrangements are often hurriedly pulled together to utilize “getaway package deals”.  Sometimes it’s “crunch time” as the lists of to-do’s and to-pack’s start get checked off madly. And no matter what the timeframe, the organizing of clothes and accessories, unfortunately, requires some ESP to envision what attire might be appropriate for certain occasions. That’s when I have to be careful not to pack like I was a new mom again.

Besides trying to anticipate and choose outfits to match a varied vacation schedule, I’m just not thrilled about doing laundry while away. To me, it’s not a verifiable holiday if I have to either hunt down a laundromat and amuse myself watching spinning drums for an afternoon, or worse, pay a hotel employee to lose some socks and hold my favourite top for ransom until checkout. I certainly could puddle out some undies in the sink or bathtub, and maybe even a wash-and-wear travel knit dress, but I draw the line at washing and pressing dress shirts and trousers. One day I shall certainly have to write about my exciting adventures (not hardly) on one overcast afternoon, in a grungy laundromat near Watford, England – “…it was the worst of times …” That’s also why I tend to overpack.

The only way to travel!

For all the anxiety and stress, I actually do like to have a change of scenery every now and then; I just don’t relish the preparation before or the unpacking after. Checklists are my buddies, but I’m still worried how I’ll cope if I ever have to plan a trip to outer Mongolia or the Amazon rainforest. Help!

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Posted in: Mid-Life Quirks