It’s very exciting to be going on vacation with my family to Turkey and Greece for two weeks. My husband, Henry, meticulously planned all the sightseeing, restaurants and travel arrangements with the same enthusiasm and attention to detail that he gives to litigation (except he had a LOT more fun). My job—preparing to pack up and vacate the nest, without forgetting anything for anyone—is a lot less fun, but equally crucial to the success of the trip.
Perhaps the most important of the thousands of myriad details is making sure each family member has enough of his and her medications to last the entire vacation, plus one extra day in case of flight problems. For Sarah, that means Abilify, Topirmax, Synthroid and birth control. Max needs Lexapro, Vyvanse and Bactrim. Between Henry and me, we have at least a dozen additional prescriptions. I’m surprised CVS isn’t paying their pharmacists overtime or hiring a few extra to service our order. From the insurance company’s point of view, it’s too soon to refill some of our prescriptions, so I have already scheduled a phone call with the head pharmacist to discuss “vacation allowances.”
This year Henry has also included requests for preventive care prescriptions for flu and digestive illness. Of course, we also have the countless mundane, over-the-counter necessities: toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, and several varieties of sunblock. Sunblock is especially important because Henry has had several rounds of skin cancer surgery, along with 12 pre-cancerous lesions removed.
Since Sarah is staying on her diet, I must be sure to schlep enough meal replacement powders for puddings and smoothies. She needs three a day for two full weeks, with enough left over to make it until we see the diet doctor. These powders have to be carried on the plane in a backpack to make sure they don’t get lost. That’s 45 “New Directions” packets, lemon pudding for breakfast each morning, a strawberry smoothie for lunch, and mocha or vanilla for snack. These concoctions require 2 blender bottles, a plastic measuring cup and a brush to clean the bottles—which always have a nasty residue of black gravelly-specks at the bottom. I debated buying a bottle that keeps liquids cold, but decided it will be easier (ha ha!) to buy cold bottled water whenever we stop for lunch and mix Sarah’s potions on the spot. I might pack one box of lime Jello (one of the few desserts Sarah’s allowed) in case there are no berries. I’m not sure how comfortable I’ll feel asking Greek restaurateurs to prepare Jello. There are no 10 calorie popsicles or Granny Smith apples in Mykonos, but I haven’t broken that news to Sarah yet. Fortunately, she’s a good sport when it comes to travel.
However, Sarah’s a lot less cheerful when I tell her she needs to try on bathing suits, have her hair trimmed, go for a pedicure and leave an hour for me to watch her pack. Like most people on the autistic spectrum, Sarah prefers her usual routine: work, gym and friends. She doesn’t like any interruptions or interferences. However, she’s agreed to give me all of Wednesday afternoon; God help me if we need extra time.
Come to think of it, Max is equally unhappy about vacation prep. ADHD makes him allergic to organization and preparation. Still, I must insist (and, yes, nag him) to take care of his laundry and cosmetics. If that means he’ll run to CVS for shaving cream five minutes before we leave for the airport, so be it.
Packing for Max is another story. (Alas, folding clothes before they go in the suitcase will probably fall to me for both kids.) But I draw the line at watching my son rummage through the closet for a missing flip-flop or haphazardly stuff shorts and t-shirts into a duffel bag. Henry has graciously offered to oversee Max’s selection of clothing and footwear, poor man.
The good news/bad news is that for the first time in four years, both kids will be living at home after vacation. No more mad scramble to unpack, do laundry, re-pack, load the car and travel to two different colleges in a mad rush. Max has graduated from college, and Sarah is commuting to Pace this year.
By now some readers must be wondering why 22 year-old adults can’t pack without supervision. Others, who have sons or daughters with ADHD or on the autistic spectrum, will understand perfectly. The answer is—yes, they could pack for themselves, but most sane parents would not want to be seen with them. More importantly, the parents would not want to shop abroad for critical forgotten items.
Speaking of not–to-be-forgotten, there’s our dog, Sparky, who needs to be taken care of while we’re away. I’ve already arranged for him to be picked up and dropped off. I have yet to prepare 30 Ziploc bags with two types of kibble. Sparky also gets canned food. At the insistence of his caretaker, I have written a long email with our itinerary, emergency contact, and vet. Additionally, I am submitting a written statement that Sparky’s Bordatella vaccine is up to date, and that we’ve administered his flea and heartworm medication (Max’s job). Poor Sparky has a torn ACL (more on that in the fall) so I’ve also left instructions to protect him from too much running or jumping.
So now that I’m finished with everyone else, it’s time to think of my own preparation. I’ve been to the cleaner, the laundromat, and the shoemaker already, but I’ll have to go again. Trying not to think about vitamins, I wonder if I would suffer withdrawal, muscle aches and soft bones if I skip Calcium and Glucosamine Chondroitin for two weeks? How much plaque can accumulate in my arteries if I forego baby aspirin as well? And how terrible would my insomnia become, if I failed to bring my melatonin?
It’s exhausting just thinking—and writing—about all of this. Vacation prep is very demanding. When I finally finish—after I water the plants, lock the front door and remind the doorman to hold our mail—I’ll be more than ready to collapse into a car and let someone else get behind the steering wheel and navigate the traffic out to the airport. Of course we’ll still have to check our luggage, go through security, hike to our gate and wait to board the plane. If there are no thunderstorms, I think, finally, I’ll be prepared for the pilot to take off (in spite of my fear of flying). But just in case, I’ll put valium in my purse.