How To Mess Up Your Vacation

Brandi WilsonStep 1. After an incredibly exhausting season of ministry, plan a perfect time away for your family to a place you are all excited to go. Use your calendar to mark down the days with a big, fat X to build anticipation for your family. Excitement and rest are both high on your list.

Step 2. Become informed that a request has been made of your husband to speak at an event extremely close to the same place you’ll be vacationing during the exact same week.

Step 3. Debate. Debate. Debate. In the end, accept speaking engagement with the thought process that the honorarium your husband will make will actually cover the cost of your perfect vacation (even though you know in your gut you already have money saved to cover the cost of the vacation). A “yes” answer is given. Neglect to think through all the details of your “yes”.

Step 4. Start to get bitter you have to work on your vacation. Begin dreading the prep that the event will require. Get mad at yourself for being dumb and making a work commitment during your family vacation. Fulfill the commitment with a positive attitude but ultimately regret the time it took away from your family vacation.

Obviously, this is a scenario my family has recently walked through. And unfortunately it’s a mistake we have made more than once.

We were replaying this scenario to our neighbors, who also happen to be pastors, when my friend said “Oh, you turned your vacation into a trip!! We always work hard to define if travel is a vacation, a trip or a visit.”

Often times these terms are used interchangeably but clarification of what each represents has been so helpful for my family.

Vacation –  Time away from work with the intention of resting. Rest can look different for each family. For us, we almost always choose the beach for vacation. Some might enjoy sight-seeing, taking tours, trying new restaurants. Whatever feels like rest for you. For us, vacation means a whole lot of nothing. And definitely no work.

Trip –  Traveling somewhere with the understanding work will be included. My husband and I just had the best trip to New York. We both agreed to speak at a conference in New Jersey. The conference was our first commitment, however, we built in some extra down time to explore New York. We had a blast together on our work trip. And even though it was enjoyable, it was different than a vacation because we went on the trip expecting to work.

Visit –  Usually involves going to see people you love. Visits are valuable because they often include extended family or community close to your heart. But even being surrounded by people you love doesn’t necessarily mean rest. 

All of these forms of travel have specific purposes. The key is in clarifying, maintaining and protecting expectations. You can’t go on a “trip” expecting a “vacation.”  You’ll come home frustrated and usually more tired than you were when you left.

What boundaries do you have to protect important family time like vacations?


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