The failed trip that wound up being my best vacation


I wanted to expand my family’s horizons. To make everyone get outside of their comfort zone. To have a good time and do something different. I wanted a spring break trip to Costa Rica.

So I researched and meticulously planned, and booked our trip. Sounds simple enough, but to really appreciate this story you have to know me. Because if you know me you know what I was up against:

– A husband who is happy vacationing in front of his big screen TV and sees no need to venture anywhere.

– A germ-phobic daughter

– A son who decided to be afraid about plane crashes, volcanoes and human-attacking monkeys.

– A 13-year old. Can anything make a 13-year old happy?

But ahead I charged, because you see, I am the Mom…the responsible one, the planner. I get all the snacks, all the games, choose all the restaurants, activities and hotels. I am somehow then responsible for everyone’s happiness. So when things don’t work out, I hear about — and feel guilty.

So after all the planning, all the begging of everyone to just open their minds, I sat down in my seat and the plane’s wheels lifted from the ground, and I smiled and let out a sigh of relief because I knew this was going to be the best trip ever!


The Week That Was in Latin America Photo Gallery

Until the pilot came on to tell us that a volcano had erupted. That there was ash on the runway. That the airport in Costa Rica was closed. That we would be returning to Charlotte and that we needed to collect our suitcases because we were not going to Costa Rica.

Until the rebooking agent told me that my daughter and I could indeed get to Costa Rica – 3 days later – on different flights than my husband and boys.

Until my mini-breakdown in the baggage claim area when the reality of there no longer being a trip to Costa Rica finally set in.

Then something amazing happened. My family, who usually do nothing more than follow my carefully planned trip itineraries, went into action. They loaded the car with our suitcases, set the GPS for Florida, and we hit the road.

Florida Daily Life

There was no fighting in the back seat. There was no whining, no expectations, no demands. We drove until we were tired, booked hotels on the fly, came up with last-minute decisions about eating and doing and having fun.

And it was one of the best spring break vacations ever. Not the best trip, the best vacation.

Because it goes back to an internal debate I’ve had over the years….I believe there is a difference between a trip and a vacation.

You see, a trip is something as described above, where I do it all and have fun, but it’s not a vacation.

So who can argue with Mother Nature when she lets you know, in the form of a volcanic eruption, that what you want and what you need aren’t coinciding?

So as we cruised down the highway I reminded myself that maybe the trip I wanted was not the vacation I needed.

Photos by: Diedra Laird, Charlotte Observer; AP Photo/News Herald, Andrew Wardlow; AP Photo/Grupo Nacion, Alonso Tenorio


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