Family Vacation Planning from a Perfectionist’s Point of View

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Who doesn’t love a great family vacation?  Traveling to a new (or familiar) place with visions of having the best time ever and getting away from the hustle and bustle of daily life always sounds amazing!  But I am a perfectionist.  A constant planner.  I make check lists that are miles long.  I agonize over every little thing possible. I consult with others. I recheck my list.  Therefore, vacation planning for me is a little different. 

I have been organizing our family trip for over a year.  And I don’t mean just the basic logistics of the actual trip.  I have created spreadsheets of all the items we need to pack (broken down by category).  I’ve made a summary of what we need to know, including the things we aren’t allowed to bring or do.  I have scoured the internet for tips and tricks.  I have filled a Pinterest board chock full of pins to help me make this trip epic.  

How Do Others Do It?

I literally cannot understand people that don’t do these things.  I’d like to view inside their brain and see how it’s wired (because it is obviously very different than mine).  I just can’t fathom someone (like my husband, for example) who can pack for a major trip the night before.  He certainly isn’t mapping out every outfit choice and over-analyzing what he should or should not take.  He’s calmly shoving very little into a duffle bag and calling it a night.  The mere thought of that gives me anxiety.

Meanwhile, I’m over here figuring out the best outfits for each day, night, event, or possible scenario… and our trip is still months away.  Yes, I know this is a problem.  Yes, I am aware that I am a little crazy.  But I don’t know how else to be.  I’d love to be a go-with-the-flow type mom, but that’s simply just not me.  

I’m the mom trying to make the trip absolutely perfect. I’m trying to create the most amazing memories possible.  I just pray that I don’t burn out before the trip even arrives. 

Packing For 3  

My husband always wonders why it takes me so long to prepare for vacations.  My answer for the last five years has been, “because I plan for 3 people, and you only have to worry about yourself.”  I have a feeling this will be my answer for many moons to come as well, since I usually organize everything for myself and my daughters.  They are currently 5 and 8 years old.  They are capable of packing some things, and I do ask them to help.  But overall, I have a vision in my head of what each family picture and event should look like, so I want to be sure that what is packed matches what’s been inside my head for over a year.  Therefore, it takes me significantly longer to prepare because I am arranging everything for 3 people.  (And let’s be real here, often I’m also plotting what my husband should be bringing as well.  He is aware of this fact and will often ask if what he’s pulled out meets my standards!  He knows who he’s married to for sure).

I am under no false pretenses that this will be a perfect trip with no problems or issues.  In fact, because of my perfectionism, I mentally prepare for something to go wrong so that it’s not so devastating when it does.  It’s a self-preservation technique I learned a while ago and has helped me survive many things (including family vacations/planning) so far. 

Overachieving Our Next Trip

For this particular trip, I have actually arranged it for 30 people.  Our family, as well as my husband’s immediate family (yes, there are a lot of them!), will all be going on this vacation together.  So, of course, this perfectionist mama took over finding the location, mapping out the details, taking notes on everything we needed to do, and noting each deadline.  I also reminded everyone when due dates were approaching and coordinated our group deals.  Things like this come naturally to me, and I enjoy overseeing that all is set and finalized.  However, with this also comes a great deal of stress.  Stress that I obviously bring upon myself, but again, I don’t know how to be any other way. 

Perfectionists Unite

If you happen to be a perfectionist like me, please know that you aren’t alone.  I totally get how much time and effort you’ve put in to making your family’s trip as perfect as possible.  And if you have any part in family vacation planning, set up, or follow through, please know that I understand how stressful that can be too.  So, I see you, mama that is stressed out trying to make sure everything is flawless for your family.  I see you, dads that are tirelessly playing the Jenga trunk game with the vast amounts of luggage your family has packed.  I see you, grandparents that are assisting with child care while the parents have a night out while on vacation (you’re the real MVPs!)!  I see you all trying your best for your family!

My parting words for my perfectionist peeps (and what I am trying to tell myself as well) is to try not to get frustrated when things don’t go your way (or match the vision you’ve created in your head).  Measure the success of your trip, not by how much you accomplished from your to-do list that day, but by the smiles on the faces of your family and the amazing memories you’re creating. Don’t compare your vacation to anyone else’s, or even to what you had originally mapped out. You might not get to do everything you thought you would, but maybe something even better will pop up and make the getaway even better. Therefore, let go of any unrealistic expectations and just enjoy these precious moments with your family.  They are the reason you chose to take your vacation in the first place, so don’t fret about the details, just have fun!  

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Nichelle grew up in Michigan, Connecticut, and Hawaii, but has called Florida her home since 1993. She met her husband, Minh, while graduating from Lynn University in Boca Raton, where he owns his own Marble & Tile installation company. They have two daughters that are the light of their lives and also keep them on their toes, Tristynn (age 7), and Harleigh (age 4). Nichelle teaches 5th grade Language Arts, which goes right along with her passion of Reading. When she’s not caught up in a great book, she enjoys going out on her boat with family and friends, taking self defense classes, doing arts & crafts (Yay, Pinterest!), and taking naps. Nichelle has written 3 fictional books for (and about) her daughters, through a program for her elementary students, and is very excited to be writing for Palm Beach Moms Blog. She works hard to find the balance between work and home life, and wants other moms to know that they aren’t alone in trying to create that sense of balance in their lives