Plans and budgets only take you so far. No matter what you do or where you go, these seven things I know for sure:
1. You Will Forget Something
Stop making lists. Accept that I speak the truth. My husband had driven two hours in the direction of Canada to meet his fishing buddies before he realized he had forgotten his passport. I was halfway to Michigan when I startled the children in a spontaneous burst of expletives. I had forgotten my medication. After a flurry of preparations, loading up the car, and getting on the road, the car quiets down and then that one missing item will pop into your head. Or you’ll swear you left the coffee pot on.
2. Your Mood Won’t Match Your Game Plan
Road trip entertainment is important. I especially enjoy a good audiobook when I’m driving. But once everyone is in the car, no one will be in the mood for whatever audiobook you chose nor will they want to listen to the mixed CD marked “road trip” that you burned specifically for the drive. “Can I just listen to my music, mom?”
Any group activities or games you hoped to play, dissolve into NPR for Mom and earbuds for the teen. The toddler will play games on your phone where the audiobook is stored.
3. Pit Stops
If you can hold it, the toddler will overflow his diaper, soaking his clothes and the car seat. When you must stop to pee, the toddler will be dry and sleeping.
4. Your Plants Will Die
The house sitter is no gardener. She is there to feed the dogs and cats, not water your fence-post hanging baskets. Soak the plants before you leave and pray for rain. I’m not picking on anyone in particular (promise). My potted herbs and hanging baskets have died in the presence of every house sitter I’ve ever had — my own teenagers included.
5. The Bank Will Cut You Off
You’ll be standing in flip flops eating M&M’s at the checkout counter when the bank thinks you’re being robbed and freeze your accounts. They’re like a bad boyfriend who insists you call them every time you make plans without them. If someone ever does rob me, I hope they buy more than sunscreen and candy.
6. Text Reminders Will Hound You
Whatever’s on autofill at the pharmacy will be ready on day two of your two-week vacation. You’ll get daily texts. First, reminding you that your prescription is ready and then threatening to re-shelve your meds before you return.
7. More Potty Problems
The toddler will pee on the guest bedroom mattress. Birds will poop on your head. At home, the dogs will bomb your backyard. No house sitter gets paid enough to pick up dog poop. When you’re home and standing in the backyard among the dead plants with a pooper-scooper in hand — that is when it will rain.
Bonnie Jean Feldkamp is an award-winning freelance writer who writes service journalism articles, personal essays, columns, and op-eds. Bonnie often contributes to The Cincinnati Enquirer and USAToday. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, Scary Mommy, and here on Medium. Bonnie is the Communications Director for the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. She is a board member of the Cincinnati Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, a member of Journalism and Women Symposium, and the National Federation of Press Women.