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Making An Obligation Into A Memorable Vacation

Vacation or Obligation?

I look forward to summer vacation with anticipation and adolescent patience. We enjoy sleeping late and random unhealthy meals. I work less so travel can integrate within our routine without many obstacles. 

Lately, baby showers, graduations and weddings seem to set the tone of our vacations. Being an aunt is one of my greatest joys and I have a strong commitment to family. My desire to take part in every one of these milestones is only hindered by my finances. With dozens of nieces and nephews, unfortunately, I miss a few. These events take a substantial chunk of our family vacation funds. 
  • va•ca•tion  an extended period of recreation, especially one spent away from home or traveling.  
Every relative has equal value on the “must see” list, but finding time to meet, is only the beginning of the issues. Complicated food restrictions result in last minute meals of nuggets and burgers. Uncomfortable sleeping arrangements and a little family drama always seem to accompany these vacations. 
  • ob•li•ga•tion  an act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound; a duty or commitment.  
My excited five year old travel buddy doesn’t show the slightest sign of jet lag. Even after 1300 miles, a change of planes and two hour layover. Spending a third of our annual recreation budget has me second guessing my plans. A lengthy high school graduation ceremony with 15 minutes of semi awkward hugging and catching up doesn’t seem worth the cost. Nevertheless, SHE loves this Obligation Vacation or Oblication.


You are staying with a relative. A four star hotel with a pool and room service would be my first choice,  but my mother insists that would be absurd. It’s been way too long since my last visit and she  has a spare room that is perfect for me and my family.  The reality is  the craft crap room I organized on my last trip now has mattress and tv. 

Everyone. EVERYONE has to work. I am reminded of that when I make suggestions of touristy places to visit each day. Staying up late to play games and retell those ridiculous family stories are out of the question. I am the only one using my PTO this week. 

Did I bring my scissors, so that I can cut hair, while I am ON VACATION? I did not. Doing taxes, tiling a bathroom and any direct sales meetings also fall into the category of “NOT A VACATION”.  

Take charge

These simple guidelines can prevent stress and insure worthy oblication memories. 

  • Rent a car. I can plan events and tourism at my leisure. My host seems to appreciate the freedom this provides as much as I do.
  • Research the area. Find out what makes the city interesting. There are many museums, concerts and events available every day.
  • Restaurants.  Seek out one of kind diners to meet up with friends and family. Try a new dish at a familiar place. Don’t YOU take everyone to get a runza?  

…Just in case…

If the vacation starts to sour, use this sweet recipe for guaranteed fun.Vacation
  • Four incredible and loving cousins dressed in mom’s skirts and bonnets.
  • One creative, soulful and inspired auntie. Her selection of treasures might be mistaken for hoarding.
  • A dedicated, courageous and committed uncle sporting a kimono and man bun. 
Now sit back and sip blackberry, ginger iced tea and eat strawberry crumb cheesecake. Raised pinkies and english accents are required at this party.
We are sweating and laughing in 104 degrees of Arizona dry heat. The best tummy crunching belly laughter accompanies every comment. Even the pickiest of princesses will delight in this memory.  One that will last long after the graduation cap is thrown. 


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2 Responses to Making An Obligation Into A Memorable Vacation

  1. Vernelle Massey June 24, 2017 at 7:16 pm #

    Shauna, you have described the modern day family and vacation issues perfectly! You have come up with some interesting and enjoyable solutions. I loved reading this!

    When you come to Hannibal next week to lay the tile, could you do something for my hair? And I’ve got a king size bed set up in the spare room, so don’t be crazy and book a room at the hotel with a pool that is 5 minutes away. Love you, Mom

    Oh I forgot to remind you, DON’T use the toilet or sink that we are storing in the guest room, they are not hooked up to anything!

  2. Shauna Self June 26, 2017 at 12:03 am #

    Kudos to me for picking the best mom. Really did something right. Xoxo ps – could you write me next post?