Avoid Vacation Meltdown

July 11th, 2015

July is typically the busiest summer month for vacations. Families prepare to load the car to travel to various fun-filled, relaxing destinations. Some of you may have already began daydreaming about your get away. You can smell the ocean, feel the sand between your toes, and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin. Your daydream fades as the memory of the last vacation comes into focus. You twinge as you remember the hurtful exchange you and your spouse had as you were leaving for what you thought would be a restful vacation. You can feel the tension in your body increase as you brace yourself for a potential argument, especially since it tends to happen almost every time you begin a vacation. We wait in anticipation for time off just to have it ruined by a heated spat, and you have not even left the driveway. 

I wish I could say I was clueless about vacation meltdowns, but I’m guilty of arguing with my husband right before we leave. In fact, my husband recently inquired about this as we planned for our upcomming vacation. We enjoy traveling so why the bickering. We realized that we both jumped off the work treadmill, and bodies flailing, landed in a soft easy chair, but our thoughts are still racing. The work mentality still consumes us even though we officially started our vacation. As mentioned in Bill Peel’s article, our society does not have a clear demarcation between work and home, which in turn creates blurred lines between work and leisure. We’ve lost the art of relaxation, especially since we are constantly attached to multiple electronic devices. 

My husband and I are determined that this year will be different. We brainstormed ideas to help us unwind and transition into a vacation mindset. We created five suggestions to help us, which in turn will hopefully help you. Your list may vary depending on personalities and needs within you own family unit. Here are our five safe harbor suggestions to shield you from the storm of conflict, which often accompanies vacation.

  1. Allow a time of transition from work to leisure. This may require that you spend at least one day at home prior to leaving for your destination. It gives you the opportunity to shift paradigm from work to play. 
  2. Discuss your expectations about the vacation at least two weeks before you leave. For example, you may need to discuss the balance between relaxed or down time versus planned activities. Expectations need to include time of departure/arrival, amount of luggage, and, yes, even a discussion about budget. Knowing each other’s expectations ahead of time can help defuse conflict. 
  3. Preflight checklist. Pilots perform a preflight checklist to provide safety for passengers. Likewise, we need a preflight checklist to protect us. Together create a list of what needs to be completed prior to your trip to ensure the safety of each family member. Once you complete the list, designate the preflight pilot. 
  4. Appreciate each other’s personality. I’m definitely the Type A in our family. I like schedules and organization. My husband likes spontaneity. To me, time is of the essence, and to him, time is just a suggestion. We now view our differences as complementing each other.
  5. Give yourself permission to relax and have fun. Consider a massage before and/or during your vacation to help you release the tension as you unplug from a multitude of electronics. 

As you get ready to embark on your next adventure, take a deep breath, and implement these safe harbors to protect you from the storm of conflict.