How to survive your summer vacation

Published 9:57 am Monday, August 13, 2018

by Will Durst

We look forward to it for months. Calendars have been cleared, reservations made, and the anticipation in the house is so high it vibrates like a chicken on meth strapped to a 30-year-old dryer set on spin. The Summer Vacation Trip is nigh. It’s a time-honored testament to all that is right about America. And often, not less than a little of what is wrong.

A brief respite from, and reward for, working hard. A time to reconnect and bond with the family unit, creating indelible memories along with building up patience and pain tolerance levels. Beaches. Theme Parks. Barbecues. Water Slides. Campfires. Unseen vistas. Unfamiliar beds. Unusual insects. Fresh scars.

If your plans entail traveling without using an airport, you should consider yourself luckier than Paul Manafort biting into a Get Out of Jail Free Card in his bologna sandwich. More comfort can be found on an Athens to Sparta diesel bus in the poultry section than on any domestic flight this summer.

They suck us in with those heavily advertised “Special Getaway Fares.” What they neglect to mention is the requirement to leave after 6 p.m. on a Tuesday with two stops and oh yeah, 50 bucks to check a bag, another 50 for window or aisle, 10 dollars for every extra inch of legroom and five per bathroom visit.

And driving isn’t much better. I would rather stick a handfull of paper cuts into a vat of Tabasco sauce than hit the road between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Whoever said “getting there is half the fun” never tried finding a parking spot in a national park or got stuck going up a mountain on a two-lane highway behind a rented RV.

However you plan to embark on your journey, here’s a few hints to minimize the pressure of interacting with families and friends non-stop, 24/7, for days at a time in exotic locales desperately seeking that elusive mythological goal – fun. 


In order to cram all your activities in, try eating only once a day. That whole “low blood sugar” thing is just an old wives’ tale.

Play a game of “Marco Polo” to steer the kids past the gift shops.

100 pushups for every time somebody whines, “I’m bored.”

Mix things up, have a squirt gun fight in a museum. Or do crossword puzzles at the ballgame.

Devices keep them occupied at home, why not on the road?

Take photographs of everything: meals, road signs, and anything that could possibly later be referred to as Plaintiff’s Exhibit A.

Planning ahead is for sissies. Just go for it.

If nobody gets in the spirit of the “Happiest Place on Earth,” force them to sing “It’s a Small World” over and over.

Rush, rush, rush everywhere. You don’t want to miss a thing.

Rest is highly overrated. Tell the kids, “we’ll sleep when we die.”

Traveling with a professional therapist can help put the fun back in dysfunctional family

Stay calm. Map out an itinerary that includes local craft gin distilleries.

Make sure to schedule at least one day for every two days gone, back at home doing nothing, to recover from your trip.

Next year, seriously reconsider your spouse’s suggestion of separate vacations.

WILL DURST is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comic and former sod farmer in New Berlin, Wisconsin. For a calendar of personal appearances, including his new one-man show, “Durst Case Scenario,” please visit