Road trip Tip: Read advice columns

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The fall is the perfect time for road trips. Something about the leaves and the air just enhances that wanderlust craving. And with people about to hop on the road to grandma’s house for the holidays, there will be a lot of road travel over the next few weeks.

For me, hopping around to different Airbnb’s can easily be hours on the road. Music is a great distraction but sometimes it just doesn’t fit the bill. My boyfriend and I are together ALL. THE. TIME. and it feels like we’ve covered every discussion topic known to man. So when we’re riding along, and we get tired of music, that’s when we read advice columns.

I know, I know. Ummm what!??! But forreal. We read them, and we discuss our take on each situation. And honestly, it’s a wonderful way to get to know more about your partner without being judgmental.

Here’s what we do. We set up the hypothetical situation using the advice seeker’s information and then we fill in our assumptions based on the unknowns. Then we sliced and dice every sentence, debate our viewpoint, and sprinkle in our past experiences, our boundaries, our hopes, etc. It’s such an interesting and entertaining way to see what we agree on, where we differ and why.

There are so many times I’ve said “wow, I can see how that is something I’ve done and it seems horrible,” or “I was once in a situation similar to this and this is what I did”.

There are things about our pasts that we didn’t know about each other and may not have had a reason to even bring up. But when we’re reading advice columns, it jogs our memory and sheds light on the situation we’re discussing.

Our favorite columns are Dear Prudence and The Moneyist. Dear Prudence is a good way to dive into some social, relationship, and family topics, while The Moneyist helps to delve into your thoughts about finances, investing, budgeting, etc.—all things that are extremely important in relationships. You may not realize that your significant other had a specific view about money, or that they were brought up thinking certain things about home life or vacation or work life…so many things are brought to light just by reading these columns!

Reading advice columns and using them as prompts for discussions actually may even help you hammer out some compromises about situations that haven’t even occurred. Knowing how you will address a situation before it even arises*could* help eliminate future headaches down the road. It may not help at all but you never know…it could.

Among our many outcomes, we’ve agreed that rescue is the way to go for pets, that we’ll never co-sign for anything for anyone ever, and that we’ll try our best to put kids in their own bed as soon as possible. Sounds random, I know…lol…but they were all the result of conversations we had after reading advice columns.

Why don’t you give it a try? Here’ a scenario from Dear Prudence. Chat about it with your significant other and see what you guys think!

Dear Prudence, My cousin’s daughter is getting married in November. We’re not particularly close, and I don’t believe I would have been invited if this were a formal, in-person wedding. Due to the current pandemic, however, the entire event is occurring on-line and the guest list appears to number in the thousands. The happy couple have published an extensive gift registry, with the cheapest items starting at about $200, and have sent a series of mass emails expressing their excitement that we’ll all get to share on their special day, with glossy images of their lives together. I have to confess that I feel a little mean-spirited about the whole affair, as this feels more like an aggressive marketing campaign to maximize the return on investment than a family celebration. Is there a polite way to quietly disengage? Would it be rude to not send a gift (and to RSVP that I can’t make it)? My cousin is notorious for holding grudges and will almost certainly kick up a fuss.

WWY?? Do you see that situation the same way or do you feel differently about it? Have you ever tried this? What are some ways you entertain yourselves on road trips? Let me know!

Coping when things don’t go as planned

coping
{“did you mean to leave this?” this is the picture sent to me by my neighbors of the bag i left on my front porch when i went on a trip.}

I know this is a weird pic to accompany this post, but let me explain.  I spent weeks, maybe months, planning for the perfect five-night cruise to Bermuda.  I bought all of my essentials, and I coordinated my daily outfits.  I bought new dresses, shoes, and swimsuits, I packed up all of my clothes, devices and accessories just perfectly, and I headed to the port.  Upon arrival, we hand our suitcases off to the cruise staff, and grabbed our carry-on bags from the trunk.  Wait…where is my carry-on bag???  And this is when all of my months of perfect planning completely fell apart.  I DON’T HAVE MY CARRY ON BAG!!!
This meant no accouterments, no accessories, no belts, no make-up, no toiletries, no tablet, no chargers, no extra pair of sandals, no hoodie, no pashmina…none of it!  AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!
So this picture is a picture that my neighbor sent asking if I meant to leave this bag on the porch.  I literally walked out of the house, locked the door, and got in the car…WITHOUT MY BAG!
I’m not gonna lie…this effed up my whole entire mood for a solid day.  And possibly part of another day.  I whined about it to all that would listen, then eventually, after I’d gone on about it long enough, I decided that I didn’t want to look back on this trip as the trip that was f*cked up because I forgot a bag.  Like…ok chick…get it together!  This is a vacation. You paid GOOD MONEY for this trip!  You’re going to Bermuda, you’re with family and friends, and you are off from work.  Get over it!!!  And eventually, I did.  I got a toothbrush from a family member.  I used my mom’s make-up, and bestie had a spare wristlet and some other items that I could use.  And I just made do.
So my question is…how well do you adapt when things don’t go your way?  How do you move forward when you plan and plan and plan, and something totally derails all of your efforts?  What tricks or tips do you use to overcome disappointment and salvage your plans?  Well…I clearly suck at it, and have no real advice for moving forward.  So I scoured the internet for tips, and here is what I came up with:
Keep cool/breathe:  There’s a pretty good chance that the issue at hand isn’t life threatening.  Take a moment, calm yourself down, and take a deep breath.
Acknowledge that you are disappointed:  It’s ok to be upset.  Take time to grieve over what went wrong.  You had your heart set on something that didn’t happen.  And no matter how small or trivial it may be to others, it was important to you, and it didn’t work out.  It’s ok to acknowledge that.
Forgive yourself:  You’re human.  Life happens and everyone makes mistakes.  be ok with your humanness and accept that you did what you did…or didn’t do.
Accept what you cannot change:  I had to tell myself, this trip five days, not a year. I have my clothes, I have my travel documents, and I have my medications.  The extra bag was just extra items.  I don’t need them to continue on with this trip, nor do I need them to have a good time.  I couldn’t change what happened or what I didn’t have.  I wasn’t able to purchase a majority of the items on the ship, and by the time I got to my cruise destination, the trip was more than half over, and buying the items on the island, if possible, wasn’t probably going to be worth it.
Assess what you can and cannot control:  Now it’s time to switch into damage-control mode.  Let’s start figuring out how to make the situation better.  Or if there’s nothing that can be done, it’s time to figure out how you can change your mindset to move past what happened.  I could not control the past, but I could control what happened going forward on my trip.  Take control of what you can, and release that which you cannot control.  I had the sun, I had good people around me, and I had wine.  And for most people, that all adds up to a good time.  So I made the decision that that was going to be the case for me as well.
Revise your goal:  Once you’ve explored your options, figure out the new goal.  decide what you want out of your experience.  For me, I knew that I didn’t want to remember this vacation as the trip where I left my bag at home.  I wanted to have a good time, relax, and enjoy my family and friends.  I revised my mindset so that the bag was less important for accomplishing that goal.
Determine your options:  Figure out what’s important to try to fix and what you have to scrap.  I had to realize that I just wasn’t going to have my lysol wipes, my statement necklaces, and my new blush.  But I was able to buy a necklace in the gift shop that I really liked, I’d have to accept that the room steward cleaned the room sufficiently, and I used my mom’s red lipgloss as blush.  Somehow it all worked.
Assess your resources:  Who or what is available to help you cope and come up with solutions?  I knew that the ship’s shops were not going to be a huge help.  Their game is souvenirs, not drug store goods.  And what they did have, I knew would be dramatically overpriced. I knew also that the store didn’t even open until we were in international waters, and I knew that wouldn’t happen until the cruise was a day into the itinerary.  I knew that our plans were so tight on the island, and could not guarantee that I’d even find the kind of store that would have the kind of things I needed.  So for me, my resource options were limited.
Lean on others for help:  Figure out who is willing and able to help you and how.  Lucky for me, I travel with over-packers.  One of my relatives had some extra toiletries, my mom had some make-up, my bestie had some accessories and necessities that I could use.  I made it work.
Execute your new plan: Move forward with your revised plan.  The plan has changed, there’s a new goal.  Revise your actions to accommodate the change.  For me, when I dressed for dinner and such, I had to include a 10 minute window for going to my mom’s room to get make-up, and my bestie’s room to get accessories.  It wasn’t the end of the world, and I had to accept that.
Have you found yourself in a situation where something went dramatically different from how you planned it?  Were you able to roll with the punches or did you completely fall apart?  Let me know what happened and how you dealt with it.  Or…if you have some advice to share, feel free to leave a comment!
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5 Tips for Surviving a Family Vacation

I did it, yall. I went on vacation with 40 relatives, yes 4-0, and I survived!!!

Again…FORTY! lol. FORTY PEOPLE!

I’m an introvert, I love being quiet, I can spend large periods of time completely by myself not making a sound and not having any human contact whatsoever. So, this is key for introverts…we DO NOT thrive in large groups. The more, the merrier is NOT our motto.

When my mom said let’s do a family cruise, my first reaction was “oh dear God NO!!” I know, I know…it’s a horrible reaction, but listen to me…relaxation and large groups don’t always go hand in hand, and I know my limitations when it comes to this type of thing. I know I’m not alone on this. But my my thoughts were… what if there’s drama? What if they make me get up early every day? What if they make me do a bunch of stuff I don’t want to do? How are we going to coordinate a ton of people to do activities?? And then the vision of herding cats popped into my head.

With that said, I cannot tell you what made me agree to go on a cruise with a massive group of people, even if they were my blood (or the spouse/friend/companion of blood). But I did it. And I roped my boyfriend and bestie into going as well. You’d think having them there would be a relief, but this oddly just added to my cruise prep stress. What if someone in my family says something to one of them, and I spend the entire trip playing defense and running interference? What if Cousin So-and-So asks me to go to the pool, but my boyfriend wants me to go play shuffle board? What if my auntie gets too intrusive with my bestie, grilling her about her most intimate life choices? Will the group expect all 40 of us to do every single thing together? Will I be able to escape the group, boyfriend, and bestie to do my necessary introvert recharging? I didn’t know what to expect and the whole thing just made me nervous.

So cruise day approached, we met the group at the port, and the 5-day trip to Bermuda commenced. Hugs, introductions, and lots of reacquainting happened. We laughed, ate, danced, swam and soaked in the sun. And after five days together, I’m happy to report that the trip was not worth the stressing at all!

Let me tell you what you can do to make your family trip a success this summer:

  1. Start off with a good mood. Begin your vacation with the intentions of having a good time, not with the intention that all things will work out perfectly. Make the decision that your vacation will be relaxing, fun, therapeutic, revitalizing, or whatever you want it to be. Then make it so.
  2. Leave old family fights in the past. Or at least make the conscious decision to not bring them on vacation. Nothing will kill a good time faster than bringing up that argument about who took Grandma’s precious cloth napkins in 1963. Vacations are precious, time away from work can be hard, and trips can be expensive. Don’t waste precious time and money on drama that’s no longer important.
  3. Prepare yourself mentally and physically for all possible scenarios. This includes packing items for a contingency, and preparing your mind for the possibility that every day may not be perfect. If it may possibly rain, have a book on hand for the days you can’t go to the beach. Pack an umbrella or slicker, and have what you need on hand to be outdoors in potentially inclement weather. Don’t let a bad weather day stop you from enjoying your trip. The more you’re able to go with the flow, the less negative impact an unexpected occurrence will have on your vacation. We had a couple of rain showers…so those were good times for souvenir shopping or the indoor pool. For the day that the ship had a wind advisory cutting off our sunbathing, we opted for the casino and hot tub. Be ok with changing plans. Or better yet, don’t make plans and just go with the flow.
  4. Limit the number of activities that are done as a group. My mother was the group’s organizer, and she made it a point to say she wasn’t coordinating many things. She wanted people to feel free to do what they wanted, as too much planning makes people feel like they’re at boot camp, not on vacation. As a group, we took two group pictures, and ate dinner each night. My mother invited everyone to do certain activities each day if they wanted to join her, but nobody had any obligation to join her at all.
  5. Book your room away from the group’s room block. Now…this may or may not be necessary or even possible. For me, I figured it may be a good idea. For those moments when I wanted to absolutely get away, I could escape to my room on a different floor, in a different part of the ship.

While I was terrified initially, and I feared all things that could go wrong in a large group, my trip turned out to be a wonderful time, and I’m so glad I decided to go! If you have any tips, please feel free to comment!