Weekend Wanderer: (Not) Planning a Family Vacation

weekend wanderer

I fly to Scotland in 72 hours. Sealed in a metal tube 30,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. 

Where the Titanic sank. 

You know how I feel about sunken ships. I feel no less animosity toward them when they’re beneath my plane.  

Or, you know, next to it. 

Throw in some snakes and that situation is just perfect. 

Yes, I’ve seen Snakes on a Plane. And yes. It’s a masterpiece. 

But we can’t discuss Samuel L. Jackson’s cinematic triumphs right now. We have to talk about travel. 

You guys know me. I’m fairly laid back. So it follows I am as laissez-faire about travel planning as Ferris Bueller was about his day off. 

The limited planning I have done is in my Scotland notebook. It’s orange so I don’t confuse it with the notebook for my to-do lists (black), the notebook tracking the kids’ activities (pink), the notebook for everything Indy and Willie (green), my scuba notebook (teal), and my datebook. Which is also black but has a different spiral binding than my to-do list notebook. 

So I don’t get them mixed up.  

Can you imagine the apocalyptic disaster of grabbing my datebook (black) when I intended to grab the to-do list notebook (also black)? The White House would probably go to DEFCON 1. 

Of course I know I can put all of that on my phone! Of course I do. But no. That will never happen because putting all of that on my phone is ridiculous. Notebooks are as satisfying as cookies, Star Trek, and a hot cup of tea. 

Not all put together. Nothing is as satisfying as those things put together. 

Well, one thing is but this isn’t that kind of column. 


Anyway. The Scotland notebook (orange). I have only five pages of itinerary and just two pages of lists. 

And one list on a sticky note.  

I have even left one and one-half days free of any plans. 

I am so Ferris Bueller.  

Now, I kneel at the altar of Rick Steves as much as the next girl. I have a WHYY Passport so I can watch Rick Steves as he was meant to be watched — daily, with a cup of tea and my general travel notebook (yellow) for diligent note-taking. 

But I have only watched the Rick Steves Scotland episode four times. Just four!  

I mean, of course I have Rick Steves’s Scotland guidebook, just in case I have questions when I’m there. But when I put reference tabs on the relevant pages, I didn’t color-coordinate them by city, activity, or even subject.  

I know I’m taking a chance, being that disorganized. But I like to live on the edge. 

Aerosmith lives there and they seem to like it. And you wouldn’t be the first person to compare me to Steven Tyler. I’m used to it. 

I just started packing last week. Two weeks to go and I hadn’t packed a thing. Even now, I have only packed power banks, outlet adaptors, medications, raincoats, hiking pants, books, passports, vaccine cards, hats, deodorant, laundry detergent, and bar soap good for both hair and body. 

Why the soap? Well, what if our hotel doesn’t have soap or shampoo stocked in the bathroom? That level of risk is unacceptable. It is a gamble worthy only of James Holzhauer

I’ve said it 1,000 times, and I’ll probably say it 1,000 more. On the ladder of risk-taking, I am one rung below James Holzhauer. 

You know, when Ernest Shackleton set sail to explore the Antarctic, he had only been planning for two years. 

His ship was crushed by ice. He and his crew spent months living on the Antarctic floes before setting out for help.  

Living on the Antarctic ice, I might add, above a sunken ship.  

I would have gone mad.  

If Shackleton had planned more, would he have been marooned on the ice? I don’t know. But I do know I don’t want to be stranded for two years. I mean, stranded in Scotland? Sure. But stranded at the Philadelphia Airport? Please. It only has one Starbucks. 

Wait. Shackleton planned for two years. I’ve only planned for six months.  

Oh no. I have so much planning to do. And so very little time to do it. I’ve only selected seats on two of our four flights. I haven’t packed sunscreen. I don’t know where I can find a grocery store. My will is not up to date. I’m out of sticky notes. 

Sticky notes are the ramparts against catastrophes brought on by failing to plan. They are Colonel Jessep. You need them on that wall. You want them on that wall.  

I — I have to go. I have work to do. I need to know the coordinates of the Titanic. How will I know when to be uncomfortable on my flight if I don’t know the coordinates of the Titanic?  

Putting “Google coordinates of the Titanic” on my to-do list.  

Wait. Do you think I should put that on the Things To Do Before Scotland list? Or the Things To Do The Week We Leave For Scotland list?  

You’re right. It’s a whole new list. 

Reaching for the orange notebook now. Or maybe it should go in the black notebook with the other to-do lists. Which one, guys? Which one?! 

Wait. I’ve got it. I’ll cross-reference it in both notebooks. 

Don’t want to wind up like Shackleton.

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