Ways to Cope When Your Family Vacation Goes Awry


We recently went on a family vacation to Disneyland, and let’s just say it was NOT The Happiest Place on Earth for my family and what I deemed to be a ruined vacation.  I forgot our tickets at home (and had to repurchase them with hopes of having them refunded) my oldest daughter fell and busted her head open, my youngest developed a 104.4 and by the end of the trip both my husband and I had strep throat. 

Admittedly several times during the trip I just broke down crying from disappointment, frustration, or because I felt so foolish that I was crying over a ruined vacation.  From the outside I could see how privileged I was just to be able to go on the trip with my family, but thinking about how much (hard earned) money we were spending and not enjoying ourselves, well it didn’t feel good.  Simply put, the entire experience made me sad.

All of that said, at some point I realized that just because you are on vacation- life is still happening.  The ups and downs, the unknown-those moments won’t stop happening just because you aren’t at your own home.  I managed to redeem some tiny moments so that when I look back-it isn’t all negative in my mind.  If you find yourself on vacation and it isn’t going as you had planned (and really, does it ever?) maybe try doing one or all the below to help salvage what you can:

  • Truly enjoy the fact that you aren’t at home!  When my daughter became ill, my only job was to cuddle and take care of her.  If I had been at home, there would have been chores to do or emails to answer but when on vacation-my kids were my priority and my heart felt calm knowing I could 100% be there for her.


  • Have ice cream for dinner with a shake for dessert.  Or order pizza and only eat the toppings.  Enjoy a meal like you never would at home-it will remind you that yes, while circumstances aren’t ideal, you are still on vacation.


  • Go to the dollar store and give each kid a $10 bill and let them buy whatever they want.  I normally rebel against dollar store junk but having free reign to get whatever they want is so fun for kids and those are the moments they will remember.


  • Take a walk at a much slower pace to notice all the differences between your vacation destination and home.  Are the trees different?  Are the flowers planted more vibrant?  Does the air smell different? Does the breeze feel cooler/warmer?  Physically paying attention to my surroundings reminded me of how we were transported from home.


  • Give yourself a guilt free excuse to sit on your hotel bed with a glass of wine while your kids run around making a mess/playing hide and seek/”swimming” in the bathtub-whatever keeps them occupied enough to let you just rest for a few moments.


  • Hire a sitter if possible for some adult time.  Now I was at Disney so this was a very easy option, but my favorite moment of the trip was spending some alone time with my husband knowing my girls were passed out in bed (this was before the baby got sick).  We enjoyed a wonderful meal and an hour at the parks without them and gave me the fuel to deal with all the unpleasant issues that came later that week.


  • Last, and most importantly give yourself permission to be upset things didn’t go as planned but don’t wallow.  Honestly, my girls didn’t realize how terrible things were going (with the exception of when the babe was feverish), it was only me who knew how much we were missing out on. They still had a blast and really, for me, that is what I want.  I want my girls to have memories of us doing stuff as a family, and good or bad-lots of memories were made on our last vacation!


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