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We just returned from vacation. Just to be clear, we just returned from a so-so vacation and “so-so” isn’t an actual place. If it were, phonetically it sounds either tropical or tundra and, based on our experience, it’s definitely not tropical.

To be fair, I’m sure that Galveston is a nice place when the weather cooperates and the sun shines and the winds aren’t picking up small cars and relocating them down the street. So, here are a few lessons I learned from this week of vacation.

  1. Arrive earlier than you think you need to, even when your flight is at 5:20 on a Sunday morning. This is especially true when you are flying the weekend after Christmas and a storm has cancelled flights all across the Southeast. Two of us made it through security in time; two of us did not.
  2. Pack your phone charger in your laptop bag. When you land on the stand-by list, you’ll want to keep your phone charged so you can check Facebook and receive updates from the rest of your family who made the original flight.
  3. Be nice to the gate agents. The combination of Christmas and the weather literally created the perfect storm for clogging up the airport. Flights were cancelled Saturday and Sunday, adding to the normally high numbers that fly after Christmas. Unfortunately, many frustrated travelers were taking out their frustrations on the gate agents who — last I checked — were not in charge of the weather (or when Christmas gets scheduled).
  4. If you want to go some place warm, spend the extra money to guarantee the warmer temperatures. Basic economics include these two truths: Flying four people anywhere adds up and hotels cost more in areas where more people want to go. That said, I wish I would have paid more money and gone to Florida. Every time I saw a picture of friends vacationing in Florida, I had to tell myself, “You’re not supposed to envy. Be happy for them.”
  5. If you can’t spend the extra money on airfare, spend it on a nicer hotel with an indoor pool and a hot tub. If you can’t sit on the beach, at least you should be able to sit in a hot tub without having to worry about a trash can being hurled in your direction by the wind. If we hadn’t prepaid with Groupon, I would have switched to a nicer hotel.
  6. Pack your Aeropress. If you don’t know what an Aeropress is, this lesson┬áprobably doesn’t apply to you.
  7. Make the best of what you have. As I said earlier, Galveston isn’t all that bad. I love the old homes and buildings. We found a great coffee shop that we went to twice. We ate at several nice restaurants. The people were very friendly. On Thursday, we spent most of the afternoon and early evening at NASA and that was a blast!
  8. Enjoy family time. Despite the disappointing weather, we were still together as a family. It even gave us a few things to laugh about (not always in a real time). In some ways, it may have forced us to spend even more time together because there were fewer things to do outside.

Lessons learned the hard way. But despite all the challenges and missed expectations, we were still blessed to be able to travel, enjoy time together, and get back home safe and sound.

It’s good to be home.