How we Avoid Griswold Catastrophes

Remember Clark Griswold and his family’s ridiculous vacations?  Driving cross country to Wally World with the deceased grandmother on the roof.  25,000 ill-functioning twinkling Christmas lights.  Cousin Eddie.  A pint-sized European car lodged in an alleyway.  Those movies are straight up hilarious and actually a decent reflection of family traveling, albeit Hollywood juicing it up.  So how do we avoid Griswold-style vacations?  Patience and planning.

Mom and I have the advantage of a venn diagram-like personality.  We’re both different, but share the same interests.  I usually take charge at airports, cab stations, and hotels.  A great example of this was hailing a cab in Rome and deciphering what the heck the cabbie was saying.  I like to move fast.  Mom takes her time and carefully questions her surroundings.  It’s a nice dichotomy because sometimes I am always on the go go go and need to slow it down (sometimes literally because of my stride).

We’re also avid planners.  On our trip to Cancun, we had an 8:30 AM flight out of O’Hare.  So, we sit down and calculate how long it will take to get there, go through security, and save time for 2 coffees and 3 bathroom breaks.  We avidly avoid Home Alone situations, too.

But we don’t overplan or underplan like Sparky.  Remember when Clark and the Griswolds FINALLY got to Wally World and it was closed for repairs?  Or when he tried to visit basically all of Europe?  We try to avoid the strict schedules and the lack of a schedule.  We like to discuss what we both want to do and what we have time to do.  This is straight up verbal communication.  Amazing, I know!

Often times other travelers will ask us how, as mother and daughter, we can spend so much time together on a trip.  An example of this was when we did our first European river cruise for 12 nights, with a pre-extension stay in Prague — it was 2 weeks in total.  The main thing was taking time for ourselves.  I like to sit with a cup (or 3) of coffee and a book in the afternoon.  Mom likes to do sudoku or puzzles.  We talk to people.  We take a break.  Then, we have a drink and regroup for a new day.  We might, however, just have the advantage of being patient and humorous people.

Things like this are different than checking items off a packing list.  Traveling with others is not for everyone.  Personalities clash and jet lag sets in.  Just remember to be patient, understanding, and positive.  You’re already doing something good for the soul!


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