desperate for r&r

Ever feel like you need a vacation so bad you can taste it? Yea, that’s me right now.

Maternity leave — while a wonderful 11 weeks — was no picnic and certainly no vacation. And while I’ve had a day or half-day off here and there over the past six months since returning to work, I’ve yet to disconnect and truly be “off.” Like off work, off social obligations, off anything.

Which brings me to next week.

On June 21, my baby brother — this handsome dude and his beautiful beaming bride — will tie the knot in Temecula, Calif. at a gorgeous winery at dusk. Luis, Maya and I are all in the bridal party — and we could not be any more excited. Especially Maya who, for once in her life, is being encouraged to throw something … and (bonus!) she gets to wear “sparkly shoes” and a “princess dress.”

This is a three-part va-k.

First, we’re staying at a Hilton beach resort outside of San Diego for a couple nights with my family. Then we go to the wedding for a couple nights. Then, Disneyland (for a day) for our little princess. And finally, we wrap in Santa Monica–where my brother lives (though they’ll be in Malaysia on their honeymoon!).

I know it will be an awesome trip, and I’m definitely looking forward to a little R&R.

But for as much as I love to travel — and lord knows I do — it’s usually a source of anxiety for me. I try to rationalize all the possible scenarios of what could go wrong and how I’d manage … but I am still usually a basket case til we land in our destination. Traveling with kids — though I’m an old pro at this, now — is the source of even more anxiety.

So I figure if I lay it out here, I can start tackling the thoughts that drive my anxiety. These are the two things that are stressing me out the most:

Challenge: Packing
I tend to be an over-packer by nature, but this time, we’re gone for eight nights/nine days and we don’t really have easy access to laundry anywhere — so it’s our longest family trip yet and one where we genuinely need a lot of stuff. And it’s our first as a family of four. So, as you can imagine, packing for this trip is giving me a migraine — especially because Ben is now a part of our family and he requires his own suitcase, given how much spits up/pukes.
Solution: Pack smart: think layers. Practical clothes and shoes. One jacket per traveler. And sunscreen: don’t forget the sunscreen.

Challenge: Travel
And then there’s the whole “getting there” aspect. Maya has been flying since she was six weeks old and is a pint-sized, seasoned traveler (like a dozen trips to NJ, two trips to El Salvador, two trips to Jamaica and one trip to Mexico)– but she is also three and a half now and she is as unpredictable as the landing of a hot air balloon. She might be graceful and drift sweetly into a field … or plunk down in a tree somewhere following an erratic flight path. You just never know.

The other thing tripping me up is this is Ben’s first flight. While he’s generally a happy baby with a sunny disposition, I cannot even begin to fathom how he’ll handle the flights or the time change (-3 hours). It could be easy-peasy (i.e., he sleeps, doesn’t cry too much, is calm and happy) or he could scream his little head off on both flights. It’s a gamble and I know to be prepared (multiple outfit changes, diapers, extra milk, snacks, toys, games,LeapPad2) … but you just never know what will set a baby — or preschooler — off.
Solution: Remember you can’t control the elements or the people around you — only your reaction to situations. If the baby cries, it isn’t a crisis. If  our flight is delayed, the world will continue spinning.

A huge part of coping with anxiety is facing your fears and rationalizing them. I love to travel and do it often, so though no one has told me this, taking a nugget from therapy: it has become a form of systematic desensitization —  whereby I myself into situations in which I have no control, over and over and over again.

We’ll see how we do … the good news is, we have a beach vacation, a wedding, Disney and some R&R to look forward to when we land. And isn’t getting there is half the fun?!

I just need to keep that motto in mind 😉

How about you? Are you an anxious traveler or a Cool Like a Cucumber jer-setter (a.k.a. my husband!)



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