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The perfect vacation - What is that?

What makes for a great vacation? The best hotel, an itinerary planned down to the minute, or eating at that sought-after restaurant? None of the above. The best vacations happen when you keep your expectations real.

It happens to the best of us, yes travel agents included. We count down the weeks to that long awaited and well-deserved vacation. The anticipation builds as the days get closer and then finally its Vacation Day. This is where the lesson comes in. I always tell me my clients it’s important to start every vacation with realistic expectations and this time around it was my turn to heed that advice.

For spring break my family and I headed out to Myrtle Beach. I was really looking forward to this break after a few very busy and stressful months I was ready to just do nothing. Can you believe it? This travel agent who is used to planning down to the hour for clients had only one thing on her itinerary – a college visit with my daughter. Other than that, we all looked forward to just laying on the beach, reading by the ocean and sleeping in.

I started packing at 8pm the night before we left. Nothing as last minute! Very unusual for me but due to a little thing call life it was all I could do to throw a few things in the suitcase. For this trip we drove down. Not a problem as we love road trips however, when shortly into our trip my husband decides to reach over to the glove compartment and knocks a hot cup of coffee all over me I should have known we were in for a different kind of adventure. That was strike 1. Shortly after, the State Highway Patrol so kindly decides to share her autograph with us…. bummer I don’t even know how much that will be and for the record I was not driving! Strike 2. We finally make it to Myrtle Beach only to find grey skies and barely 50-degree weather; not a good thing for a beach vacation. Strike 3!

Remember what I said about managing expectations? Well I had to really talk myself into a positive state of mind right around this point in our trip, but my family reminded me of a few things; 1) We made it safely 2) we were together and 3) we didn’t have work or school to worry about. After all, isn’t that what vacation is all about? Relaxing, reconnecting as a family and enjoying what’s around you. So off to the beach we went with our winter coats and all!

Now those with human beings called teens also know that they can be the voice of reason one minute and turn on you like speed of light the next. I knew I had to find something to keep her occupied for the next few days. Luckily as a busy teen she loves sleeping as much as anything else, so I didn’t have to think too hard.

The next full day started out as grey, chilly day so I did the only thing a mother of a teen girl knows will be a guarantee success; retail therapy! We headed off to Tanger Outlets. After visiting some stores, spending surprisingly less than I thought and having late lunch we headed out to Barefoot Landings. Another cute retail area in North Myrtle Beach area. The shops including the typical souvenir stores, but also some unique boutiques and wine store. That’s where we ended up for a quick break. I couldn’t pass up 7 wine samples for $3 and it provided my teen an opportunity to do what she does best; sit down and catch up on social media! Back to the condo and she was “exhausted” and pretty much done for the evening.

The weather doesn’t appear to turn until the last two days of our trip and even then, it will not be warm enough for pool or beach but for the next few days we will go with the flow because the important part of family vacations is that we are together. Over the years I have learned that the best vacations are the ones where we stop trying to do it all and just go with the flow. Even our Disney vacations are always padded with a non-park day when we sleep in, spend the day at the pool and just eat when we are hungry not when a reservation dictates.

Expectations can make or break a vacation and we all work hard to let minor inconveniences spoil the little precious time we have away from the rat race. I could have easily let things go south after the state highway patrol incident but instead I kept things into perspective. I wanted time away from our daily routine to focus on my family, on being together and reconnecting. If that meant playing a round of UNO in the condo because it was too cold for the beach, then so be it. It was our time, our vacation and the memories that we create are the ones that last a life time. Make sure those memories are good however simple they may be. I can tell you this is one trip my daughter will be remember fondly if for nothing else to remind her Dad he was the one who got a ticket while driving not her!

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