1. You can never, ever pack too many bathing suits.
2. Make a pot of really good coffee before bed, pour immediately into glass pitcher, put said pitcher into the refrigerator, and — voila — you have a steady supply of high-test iced coffee for the next morning. This could not be more crucial in re vacation happiness.
3. Exercise first thing in the morning, and shower at night.
4. Jumping in the pool counts as a shower.
5. Dudes over forty should do everyone a favor and run with a shirt on.
6. Everything tastes better on vacation.
7. Always assume the worst about the beach rental’s utensil drawer. BYO knives.
8. Fifty-one weeks of the year: ballet pink for the pedicure. This week: Neon tangerine.
9. Fifty-one weeks of the year: milk or water with lunch. This week: Ice cold Coke.
10. Fifty-one weeks of the year: Cocktail hour at 6:00. This week: Cocktail hour at 6:00. (It’s the one thing keeping us from spiraling into total chaos.)
11. If key lime pie is local, order the key lime pie. If key lime pie isn’t local, order the key lime pie.
12. Never drive by the farmer’s market without stopping to see what’s local.
13. Unless that farmer’s market is located just off route 95, in North Carolina, and is selling “local peach wine” — in which case, drive the f*ck on!
14. Don’t wait for the last fifteen minutes of an 800-mile drive to discover that the AC/DC Pandora station is the one you should’ve been listening to all along.
15. Best road-trip movies for kids (or at least the ones in our back seat right now): Monsters Inc, Life of Pi, Tootsie*, The Lovebug (original, non-Lohan version), Ironman, Coraline, Dumb and Dumber, The Incredibles. (*there is light sex talk, and a bunch of s-bombs, but when Sydney Pollak is saying them it almost doesn’t matter.)
16. Burn a copy of the Johnny Cash children’s album for the drive, and you will never be sorry.
17. Ice cream, in some form, every day.
18. Good Humor bars, in descending order of deliciousness: toasted almond, strawberry shortcake, chocolate eclair.
19. Sunscreen before the beach.
20. Better yet, Roxy surf shirts.
21. And speaking of swimwear, dads can (and should) get away with these, from Olasul.
22. There is nothing as nasty, when you really think about it, as the fully-loaded swimmy diaper.
23. We have been vacationing in the same house for many years and in this house is an unironic boom box with an actual, functioning cassette player. Next to this cassette player is a tray of old cassette tapes, featuring Kenny Loggins, Billy Joel’s 52nd Street, late-vinatage Neville Brothers, Steve Winwood, the sountrack to Working Girl… and Darkness on the Edge of Town. It could be that it’s the only gem among sad old rocks, but is there a better album to cook to on vacation than Darkness on the Edge of Town?
24. The post-beach nap is best taken on a screened porch, or face down — bathing suit still on, flip-fops hanging off — on the guest room bed.
25. The gin and tonic is King of Vacation Cocktails.
If you’re roadtripping, and if your kids in any way resemble our chip-eating, juice-spilling, crumb-shedding children, remember a garbage bag for the backseat.
26. The minute you arrive, you must throw out the grocery shopping rule book. First thing in the cart for us: Cinnamon Pop-Tarts.
27. If you have to eat out every single meal, it stops being special. Which is why we always try to stay in a place with a kitchen.
28. But having a kitchen doesn’t mean skip the restaurant. Pick one or two spots you want to hit and book your reservations before you leave. (This was our most recent choice.)
29. One night, burgers with potato salad. One night, grilled fish with salsa verde. One night, yogurt marinated something with a good, fresh slaw.
30. Every night: cobbler.
31. On the night you have burgers, you shall have them on Martin’s potato rolls, with crunchy lettuce, fresh tomato, American cheese, and MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL: special sauce.
32. As much as we like you, we don’t care about your golf round.
33. Book a house with a washer-dryer. It means less luggage, and it means your bathing suit will always be dry.
34. If you’re a dad, this is your one chance to grow a mustache. Use it wisely.
35. Be flexible about the kids’ bedtime.
36. Unless Breaking Bad is on, in which case, get them in bed as soon as dinner is done.
37. Two words for a hungry person on the road: Waffle House.
38. For the first three days of vacation, the fact that this will all soon come to an end might be felt, but it must never be acknowledged.
39. For the last three days of vacation, pass the hemlock.
40. Start your own Polar Bear Club. Set an alarm one morning and do a sunrise swim with the kids in the nearest lake, ocean, swimming pool.
41. Learning to ride a bike for the first time is twice as nice when it happens on vacation — and twice as easy.
42. Carve out an hour or two of post-lunch quiet time every day. Make it sacred.
43. What “quiet time” actually means: Everybody’s free to do whatever activity they want, as long as it doesn’t bother anyone else. And doesn’t require parental supervision.
44. The oven should never be set higher than zero degrees.
45. Vacations are what grills are for.
46. Non-vacation food emergency: No ketchup in the fridge. Vacation food emergency: No sugar cones, charcoal, Gatorade.
47. Non-vacation to-do list: Dry-cleaner, tires fixed, post office. Vacation to-do list:_______.
48. If there is a choice between coming home on Saturday or Sunday, suck it up and choose Saturday so you have that 24-hour buffer zone between vacation and pool-less, beach-less, happiness-destroying reality.
49. It’s OK to take it out on the rental car.
1. You can never, ever pack too many bathing suits.