travel_brochuresIf there’s supposed to be truth in advertising, I think someone should inform the people who write and design travel brochures.  Talk about promising you anything!

These tri-folds contain pictures of magnificent sunsets, quiet walks on white sand beaches and romantic dinners under the stars.  Two questions:  in what lifetime? And where do I sign up?

Even the commercials for local getaway spots can be misleading.  Sure, you’ll see plenty of exciting, heart-in-your-mouth scenes of fun-loving families riding the latest roller coaster at the nearby amusement park.  What you’ll never see is the lunch-on-the-shirt reaction of a nine year old who had one too many hot dogs before boarding.

Of course, my kids will tell you I’m not one to judge.  After all, we haven’t been on a real vacation in years.  I can blame it on the heat, on the budget, on the time constraints – heck, last year I stayed in the house the entire summer and blamed it on my pregnancy.  But it’s time I confess the sad truth those travel brochures won’t tell you.  Getting away from it all is too much hard work.  (Heck, I have a hard enough time planning a trip to Pathmark.  Forget vacations – a real break is cruising down the cereal aisle without having little helpers load your cart with the must-have Marshmallow Monster Goonies, three packages of Poptarts and a bag of water balloons.)

Think I’m wrong?  Then just pull out the snapshots, souvenirs and memories from your latest vacation, and see if they even slightly resemble the travel brochures.  Take mine, for example:

  • The Brochure Says – a hot summer weekend on the beach, with nothing but the sound of the crashing waves, the smell of coconut suntan oil and the beauty of endless white sand to fill your days.  Leave your worries behind (just bring your checkbook!).
  • My Snapshot Shows – that a day on the beach is anything but.  Max is crying because the sand is too hot to walk on, while Sean is feeding his $5.00 cup of French fries to the seagulls.  By the look on the faces of those around us, Steven is playing his music so loud his friends back at home can hear it.  I’m wearing a brave smile, but my nose is already peeling.
  • The Commercial Claims – you’ll be bonding with your children as you drive together to your vacation destination.  Everyone can sing “Kumbuya” while mom and dad point out license plates from faraway states.  The traveling will be as much fun as the vacation.
  • Our Video Tape Captured – the boys plotting to moon the 18-wheeler to our left.  I try to divert their attention by passing out cans of soda.  Max spills his on Steven.  No one is singing, but someone yells, “The baby has poopies!”
  • The Travel Agent Promised – rest and relaxation.   Time to recharge our batteries.  Memories to last a lifetime.
  • Reality Delivered – twenty seven bags of laundry, a huge new credit card balance, and a couple of dead hermit crabs.

But I do have some getaway memories I cherish. I have a video of Max at three or four, clapping along with Barney at Universal Studios.  Clam shells, collected together then painted and put away.  Pictures of my kids, young and smiling and tan, taken in one of those “Four For A Dollar” photo booths.

I look at those pictures, and wanderlust stirs.  If they promise not to argue over who’s riding shotgun, I may even pack the kids up and take them somewhere.  It may not be what the advertisers promise. But often, it’s a whole lot more.

Kumbuya, anyone?