A "Successful" Family Vacation

My ex-husband sometimes described the trips he took as “successful,” but I never knew what that meant. One person's success is another's failure.

As we’ve just returned from a week-end trip with Alan’s three grown girls and their families in Lava Hot Springs, I’ve been thinking about what makes a “successful” family vacation.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has helped me frame my thinking and it goes something like this:

The first and most basic level of a successful family vacation is that everyone returns home in one piece. No deaths, injuries or accidents. Check.

The next level is that everyone gets along well and there were no or few hissy fits, crying jags, airing of grievances, outbursts of anger or generally hurt feelings. As far as I know, that’s a check, too. We try to be kind, understanding and forgiving to each other. It helps that we have separate motel rooms.

The third level, for me, is that everyone gets to do what she or he likes. For Kaylee, our granddaughter, that means bumping down the cold Portneuf River on an inflatable. (That would be hell for me.)

For most of the group, including me, it means taking part in the local bingo game at the city recreation center. Nope, none of us won anything, but it was fun anyway.

For me, it means immersing my body in water as long and often as possible, so I swam laps at the swimming pool one day and sat in the public hot pools three times the next day. I can’t speak for the others, but for me, it was a check for level three.

The fourth and ultimate stage – yes, I know Maslow has five levels, but I only have four – is reaffirming the bonds that make us a family. That means enjoying each other’s company and

creating happy memories. That’s a check for me, but I can’t speak for the others.

So yes, I think it was a successful family vacation. At least for me. And it’s always good to come home again.


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