Dear Crabby, Why is leaving for vacation so stressful?

Dear Crabby,

My husband and I get into a huge argument every time we go on a vacation. Is this normal? And is there a way to avoid that?

Sincerely, Justine Wanagetalong

Dear Ms. Wanagetalong,

It’s quite an honor to have someone ask me if something is normal! I’m not sure I have ever had that pleasure before. As far as fighting before a vacation, I’m not sure if it’s normal, but it is certainly typical around my house. Every time we get ready to leave, Mrs. Crabby begins going through her list of all the necessities for our trip. This process can last for days sometimes. One year I got so frustrated I said that I would handle all the packing up. We were going to the Wisconsin Dells to visit some friends. We were on the road for an hour when my daughter asked what I brought to eat. I replied, “peanut butter and jelly!” When she asked what else I brought, I said, “That’s it.” Well, as much as I love my PB&J, three meals of it gets pretty old fast!

When we arrived at the hotel with the pool we were so excited about, nine hours later, Mrs. Crabby said that we should get our swimsuits on and take a dip. It was then that I realized I forgot my swim trunks at home! To make matters worse – for the missus, that is – when I woke up the next morning, I realized I had also forgotten my toothbrush. Suddenly all that planning and list stuff didn’t seem so bad! I apologized to my dear wife and she forgave me. Then, to my surprise, she pulled out a bag that she packed separately and gave me my swim trunks, my toothbrush, and some changes of underpants that I hadn’t yet realized I left as well. Just to make me feel better, I took her on one of those Wisconsin Duck Boat tours and didn’t tell her that the trucks actually float. When the driver came up to the river he yelled, “We lost our brakes, hold on!” We splashed into the river and began to float down, all the while poor Mrs. Crabby was nearly hyperventilating. After I stopped laughing, I apologized and told her that I had asked the driver to do that. It was a very long ride home after that, but I think we both learned valuable lessons. I learned to let my wife make lists and plan for our needs while away, and she learned that any vehicle called a Duck is not one that she will ever ride in again! So good luck, and let me know how it goes!

Sincerely, Dear Crabby

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Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at

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