Home & Leisure

For the Perfect Summer Vacation, Just Add Time


For children, vacations pass in a haze of pleasantness.

Distance and inconvenience disappear into a fog of naps, snacks and entertainment, and they never have to remember to check the plane's seatback pocket. They don't see a check at a restaurant, examine the line items on a hotel bill or set an alarm to make an early flight.

I, however, am no longer a child.

When we adults go on vacation, as our family did recently to Greece, it is a tangle of mad dashes to ferry boats, flat tires at the tops of mountains and kids who don't understand why there's never any maple syrup for Greek pancakes.

While my children enjoyed the salty breeze in a seaside cafe, I wandered around on an unfamiliar island in 90-degree heat begging Greek strangers to help me find a vacation rental that might as well have been the lost city of Atlantis for as much good as the GPS directions did.

And all this stress was with the help of modern conveniences. Who knows how our parents did it in the days when you had to trace your route on giant, impossible-to-re-fold maps and manage dinners using nothing more diverting than crayons and a paper placemat.


It puts into perspective the family trips of our youth, where our parents dragged us over oceans on planes, in cars for endless hours and to far-flung beaches without the benefit of Google Maps, Netflix and convenience stores at every corner, stocked with every food and beverage known to man.

I wondered what my parents' memories of those trips were, what they thought about the time my kid brother threw up in the van on the way up the Smoky Mountains or the long car ride when my other brother and I lobbed open packets of honey into the front seat one night when we were bored.

Of course, not everything was harder back then. We took off our seatbelts in the car and curled up on the floor to play, and airplanes weren't the mobile jail cells they are now. The seats certainly weren't so tiny and close together that reclining caused you to risk violence from angry passengers behind you.

I thought about all of this in Greece as I watched my children snooze in the car on the way back from the beach. While they slept, my husband drove twisty mountain passes and I balanced my phone on my knee so I could simultaneously watch the directions and look outside to avoid getting carsick.


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