How to Make Lemonade Out of a Lemon: Family Vacation Edition


It’s that time of the year when we start taking family vacations. You’ve made the reservations. You’ve got the itinerary and the kids’ “flight bags” ready. You are one organized mama that slays vacation! You get on that plane and the kids are occupied the entire trip! Your adoring husband grabs your perfectly packed luggage at baggage claim and tells you how much he appreciates your hard work planning this dream vacation. (Cue the romantic music in the background) Everything is perfect! You mentally high five yourself as you get to the hotel. Upon check-in, you find out the hotel is overbooked and instead of the top floor, with an amazing view of the ocean, they have stuck you on the bottom floor next to the ice machine. You find out that this week they are expecting bad swimming weather and you won’t be able to take the snorkel trip you’ve planned and to top it off, the zoo is under construction so most animals aren’t on exhibit. Tears are starting to well in your eyes because your daughter was looking forward to seeing real penguins at that zoo. And then your daughter begins to cry too. Your trip is ruined …

Yes, this epic fail of a vacation actually happened to me. And yes, I was devastated. BUT I knew I had to come bounce back to the wonder mom I was three hours before and not let everything fall apart! Life, weather and construction happen. Was I planned for this? Nope! Not at all. Did I have a smart phone to help me navigate the area and turn those frowns upside down? No, ma’am, I did not. Did we still have a great time? Oh yes, yes we did!

So when life gives you lemons, how are you supposed to make lemonade out of your failed family vacation? Here are some things for you to remember and some ideas for a contingency plan when things go south!

  • Meals can be very stressful. Sometimes there is a long wait for a table and hungry children aren’t the happiest people. Before you leave (if it’s a drive) or when you arrive at your destination, be sure to stop at the local grocery store and grab muffins, juice, fruit that doesn’t require cutting and just some basics to keep your brood from being hangry. Worst case, you have muffins and juice in bed in your jammies – something you wouldn’t do at home – which makes it equally as special as that brunch down the road you had planned!
  • Have back up plans to places that you have booked. Luckily this is the age of the internet and you have it at your fingertips. Having those backup things to do is great and can be as simple as finding a local park for the kids to play in or finding a local splash pad – something THEY would enjoy. On our missed snorkel day, we called a few friends and one of their daughter’s friends lived in that city. She hung out with us all day long and showed us some amazing places we would never have seen otherwise. No zoo? How about the aquarium? We didn’t get to see penguins, but we did get to go to the tide pools and pick up starfish and crabs.
  • And here is one of the best tips that I can give you – don’t tell your family about what the plans are before you leave. Don’t let them look in the “flight bags”. Keep everything a surprise. Kids eat that stuff up! And if your original plans fall through, you haven’t disappointed anyone. You just slip into plan B and rock on.

Mom, we always have to keep to the sunny side and be the problem solvers. It is what makes us great examples for our kids and hopefully they grow up with a little bit of that themselves. When life hands you the bottom floor room next to the ice machine, don’t forget to open the curtains and sliding glass door of your room before you complain to the manager. Because sometimes that door leads you to a private walkway to the beach!

Tell us how you have made lemonade out of a lemon family vacation in the comments below. And tag @wacomoms this summer with any of your family vacation fails that we are sure will be funny when you look back on them!