Monday, Apr 23, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Mary Alice Powell

Getting ready for a vacation requires a lot of work

Vacation time shouldn't come as a surprise. We wait all year for those one, two, or more precious weeks where we escape the daily grind and slip into relaxation mode. We mark it on the big calendar in the kitchen and again on the small personal one in our wallets. And we tell anyone who will listen where we are going.

But is getting ready for the vacation really worth it? Haven't you ever said that staying home would be easier than the maneuvers that precede the time away from it? But we don't stay home. I should know. When I return home from one trip, I try to have another one in the hopper.

The first concern is what to pack. You know from the time you take the suitcase from the attic that you will pack too much. The question is, what kind of too much? It's hot here, but it will be cold at the destination. The travel company even suggested gloves, scarves, and heavy coats, which of course by this time of the year are packed away. The layered look is always a choice, but how many layers can you pile on an overweight body? Then another e-mail arrives to announce that it will not only be cold, but the rainy season has set in. Should you pack an unwieldy umbrella or rely on the dreadful rain bonnets that only seniors own? Go for both umbrella and rain bonnet and add a rain jacket — it is better to pack than to buy.

What about your medicine? If you get stranded you may need more than your current supply. Call the pharmacist and order all that your insurance will allow.

Women have two choices on grooming. They can make an appointment with their regular hair stylist and nail technician before they leave, or take a chance on one selected from the phone book in a vacation city, hoping not to be disappointed or pay too much.

People with both pets and vacation plans are committed to make arrangements for their furry friends. The cost of the care has to be added to the total vacation package. Often, the plans for the pets are made before the vacation reservations are secured. Cats can fend for themselves, but still the owner must know his or her precious felines will be fed, watered, and have fresh litter either at home or in a kennel. Cats seem to know that their owner will be leaving as soon as a suitcase is visible. My Geranium was curled in the suitcase when it was empty and again when it had clothes in it before my last trip. That, of course, is when the animal is given special attention and treats.

While cats need attention every three or four days, plans must be made for dogs to have 24/7 care. My old dog, Digby, is my constant concern, and I am thankful that he can stay in a private home in Toledo, but I still call just to be sure the inevitable hasn't occurred. More than one trip has been canceled because I didn't feel I should leave him. Now, as I write this column while on vacation, I am very anxious to see him. At his advanced age I always vow not to leave again, which we know is not true.

The question while traveling is, am I selfish to leave the animals that so depend on me? They all express joy when I return.

How about money for the trip? Travelers checks don't seem to be as popular as they once were. Credit cards are good because the bill is a record of travel expenditures, but not good if they are abused. Cash works well on domestic vacations and can be converted to foreign currency easily. Carrying a lot of cash is not a good idea if you tend to be careless and don't have a secret hiding place in the luggage.

If it's a driving vacation, plans are a snap. Just make the sure the car is good to go mechanically. But if it's a flying trip, decisions are numerous.

Should you ask a friend to drive you to the airport and pick you up upon the return? Should you reserve a transportation service that is worry-free but not as cheap as a friend's generosity? There is also the choice of driving to the airport and parking and paying in a lot that best suits the budget. Or you can make a reservation in a motel near the airport where the car can stay free for 10 days.

On this trip the last option was my choice so I could be close for a 6 a.m. flight. Up at 4 a.m., to the airport by shuttle by 4:30, was my workable plan right up until the 6 a.m. flight was canceled. A new schedule was a headache, literally.

Was this trip worth it?

Yes. The week I spent in Iceland was well worth the decisions, hassle, and preparation, and I am anxious to report soon on the food, the people, and the landscape of the amazing island.

Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor.

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