Of roadtrips, etc.

Vacations are things I look forward to and dread at the same time.  It’s not so much the vacation per se but the getting there.  Sometimes we fly, sometimes we drive.  Last week’s vacation was a drive to Williamsburg, VA which was probably our fourth if not fifth trip there.

This year was different because the ten-year-old now chooses to travel comfy (translated: with a pillow and blankie) and he packs his own backpack now.  (I still pack his clothes in the suitcase, though.)  And while car sickness is still a problem despite his Sea-Band Acupressure Wrist Bands, it’s a little easier to manage.

I personally pack my go-to tote which contains my journals, art stuff to bring, magazines and other knickknacks.  The sanitizers and wipes go into either his backpack or my tote, but always INSIDE the car.

Things to remember before leaving the house:

1.  Pack your chargers and make sure all handhelds are fully charged.  (You only have so many plugs to charge into in the car.)

2.  Bring drinking water and other beverages to save you from buying at every stop.  If you travel with kids who drink from juice packs, freeze a few the night before and keep it in a cooler.  You won’t need any ice to go with the drinks because the individual packs will cool the container.

4.  Don’t forget snacks.  Kids often get hungry between rest stops and you don’t want to have to stop just for food.

5.  Pack a plastic bag specifically for trash in the car and discard at the next stop or when full.

6.  If your child tends to get car sick, fold and pack several good plastic shopping bags.  Make sure they have no holes so that you don’t have to scramble with gooey drips if you happen to have the kid throw up into a bag with holes.

7.  Pack ample napkins or a roll of paper towels if you can.  You never know if you will have to clean up.

Things to remember when in the car:

1.  Make sure the seats are comfy and that your child stays buckled up.

2.  Keep the drinks in cupholders where they will be upright and will prevent spills.

3.  Use the compartments behind the seats wisely by putting items that you might need to grab in a huff like napkins or barf bags.  Keep the maps, information sheets or ticket printouts there as well.  Avoid storing bulky items that might impede movement of the passengers.

I enjoyed this particular road trip.  It was relaxing even if I had to grab a bunch of motion sickness tablets an hour into the trip at a stop, and coax the boy to down the tablet.  The good news is that it worked almost instantaneously as promised!  We did our usual stops — finding one Cracker Barrel restaurant along the way for lunch. Browsing their country store is always a trip in itself and the food is reasonably priced and satisfying.

I had the seasonal Campfire Chicken Meal which came out wrapped like the left and unwrapped to a sumptuous feast on the right.
Cracker Barrel Campfire Chicken mealCracker Barrel Campfire Chicken meal

All for $9.99!  It’s always an enjoyable experience going around their stores and eyeing the decor in their restaurants which are, uncanniliy, almost perfect repiicas of one another.

Needless to say, we did another Cracker Barrel stop on the way back.  It’s now part of our road trip routine.  Cracker Barrel branches are located off of most high way stops all throughout the United States.  If you haven’t tried it yet, just going in is an experience that should make your trip worth it.

What matters more

I used to have an action packed, booked solid vacation every time I went for a homecoming here in Manila.  I did that maybe for the first two or three times I vacationed here, making sure breakfast, coffee before lunch, lunch, merienda, dinner and drinks were covered.  I stuck to a schedule and saw as many people as I could.  I scheduled it so that venues were adjacent to each other.  I might be having breakfast in Greenbelt 1, then I move to Greenbelt 5 for lunch, etc.

It was fun and I saw a lot of friends, but I ended up terribly stressed and harrassed.  Fatigue would catch me at the end of the day and I still ended up missing an appointment or two because sometimes things got rescheduled or I missed something.

My last real vacation before this current one was December 2009.  My schedule was thrown out of whack because my father had to be rushed to the hospital before Christmas and that had me ending up staying an extra week making it a month-long vacation with Angelo.  (Alan left earlier than Angelo and me.)  I couldn’t schedule anything because my own was dependent on what was happening to my Dad and where I was needed.  I had tried going with Alan and Angelo to the Tagaytay Highlands on the invitation of Alan’s friend, but I ended up staying all night waiting for our hostess to wake up so I can have her driver bring me to town so I can go home to Dad who had to have emergency surgery.

One lesson I learned from that trip was that although I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to see, and I didn’t see as many people as I could have, a more fluid schedule allowed me the chance to actually enjoy my vacation more.  There was less stress, less pressure.  I allowed myself to reschedule.  Since the meet ups were not one after the other, it was easy to accommodate meetings that ran over.  If I was having fun or particularly enjoying the company of a friend or group of friends, I didn’t feel short changed as I didn’t have to cut the meetings short.

I might’ve overdone it this visit, though, as I found myself spending more time just relaxing than heading out and meeting up with friends.  I’ve even kept the meetings with relatives to the minimum.  I feel like it’s a regular vacation back in the US where I wake up at leisure and do things without any pressure.  (Save for the long lines and all the walking in DisneyWorld every time we go..)  I take it a day at a time, planning spontaneously.  Maybe it helped that everyone else has been so busy, so they haven’t been asking for time to spend together.  This has allowed me to enjoy my vacation more.

Just five more days and I go back to New York.  Leaving Manila is always bittersweet for me, but all I do is just think about the next vacation and that tides me through.