Heatwave melted family vacation

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By Lisa Lee

Travel is one of my passions. I spend countless hours planning, pricing and plotting big trips or day trips. One might think I travel all over based on the number of travel emails I receive and travel websites I check regularly.

Just like a social media persona can give you a false impression of reality, my bookmarks and search history would also falsely give the impression that I am a seasoned traveler. Due to circumstances beyond my control – money, time, work and a family who does not share my travel passion, I am a reluctant homebody. However, I periodically foist my travel plans on my travel-averse family – sometimes with great success and sometimes with disappointing failure.

Last year we had an opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. with part of the trip paid for. As my favorite U.S. city (I’ve really only been to a handful), I was so excited to go to D.C. I’d been planning this trip for a long, long time.

I had an itinerary plotted out, our Metro schedules planned and even had arranged for a private tour of the Capitol Building. Knowing how my family (husband and 2 kids) despise schedules, I had built in down time and even selected a hotel with an indoor pool (a must for the kids).

After researching hotel reviews and all the details for months on end, I wrote up our plan, shared it with the family and revised a little bit to make sure everyone was happy. I counted down the days with enthusiasm while they just went about their days like they had nothing to look forward to.

The weather was chillier than it usually was at that time of year but I figured we’d be in museums and restaurants and the indoor pool so it wasn’t much to fuss about. The week before, forecasts showed the weather warming a little bit and it began to feel more like summer so everyone’s excitement grew a little bit.

Fast forward to the trip, a major heatwave swept into the Northeast, hitting D.C. particularly hard. Our arrival was met with unbearable and suffocating heat and humidity. It set everyone into a bad mood. Walking from the Metro to our first stop was challenging so we decided to duck into a restaurant and sit for lunch. I talked them into eating at a fancy, authentic Mexican restaurant with an adventurous menu.

I loved everything I tried while the rest of them moaned and groaned about the “weirdness” of the food. My daughter lost her tooth which became a bloody mess. We ended up stopping at McDonald’s after so the rest of them could fill their bellies. This set the tone for the rest of our trip.

I literally dragged them through the tour of the Capitol Building and had to actually bribe them to just be quiet during the 1 hour tour. All anyone wanted to do was go back to the hotel. We trudged through the heat with more complaining than an average night of 5th grade math homework (trust me, that’s really a lot of complaining!) and only got to go to two museums and there was a ton of grumbles and whining in getting to them. We saved the National Zoo for last and I think they enjoyed it but it wasn’t the highpoint I had planned.

After my Mexican food debacle, there were no more food adventures. Pictures were staged and often with miserable expressions. We saw no monuments and did no touristy tours. All my plans and cherished memories I had orchestrated went out the window and evaporated into the heat wave.

While the 3 of them spent days frolicking in the indoor pool I was so disappointed all my plans were for naught. On the last day, however, I finally realized I was on vacation and the time with my family was what I really was supposed to cherish. I finally came around and relaxed and decided that the vacation wasn’t lost, I just needed to readjust my expectations. The lesson learned was it isn’t always about the destination. I would like to think I’ve learned to not plan every moment and orchestrate a perfectly planned itinerary, but I haven’t learned that lesson yet. I continue to search for vacations and do my fantasy vacation planning. Maybe one day they will catch the bug and embrace the adventures I have planned. Until then, I just need to embrace the quality time spent with my lovies and save that vacation fund for when I can get away alone!