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Yes, you can totally dine al fresco at home.
With COVID-19 grounding our international travels right now, we decided to humorously recollect what a family trip is often really like.
4:00 a.m. Time to wake up! It’s 9 a.m. in much of Europe!
4:30 a.m. No, seriously, it’s beyond time to get up. In Europe, you’d be out of the hotel by 9:30. Stop hitting snooze. Let’s go!
5:00 a.m. Meet your family at the breakfast table, which should include croissants, jamón serrano, and that dusty jar of Bonne Maman you found in the back of the pantry.
5:45 a.m. As you finish breakfast, make sure everyone understands that they must absolutely be ready to start the day in 15 minutes.
6:35 a.m. Everyone has finally gathered in the living room. Firmly tell all members of the family that they must take a seat in your most uncomfortable chairs and put their phones away for the bus tour. Begin streaming an episode of Rick Steves’ Europe.
6:45 a.m. Turn a fan on high blast. You’re riding on the upper deck of the bus.
6:48 a.m. Sprinkle water on everyone. (Again, it’s the upper deck of the bus.)
6:50 a.m. Get into a protracted argument with the family member who didn’t put their phone away, even though you warned them, and whose phone is now not working because of the “rain.”
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7:00 a.m. Noon in much of Europe means it’s time for lunch! Recreate the feeling of stopping by a street market by opening every cupboard in the kitchen and letting people help themselves. If a member of the family wants to eat half an old Pop-Tart and three slices of deli turkey for lunch, it’s OK! They’re on vacation!
8:00 a.m. Sure, everyone now regrets their lunch choices and is asking to take naps, but, oh well, you scheduled a museum walking tour. Make sure everyone is wearing their heaviest coat, carrying a bag with a water bottle and a book, and has on uncomfortable shoes.
8:15 a.m. Stand in front a family photo in your home. In a sincere and heavily accented speech, explain its meaning as quietly as possible.
8:40 a.m. Move on to the next family photo.
10:00 a.m. Everyone made it through the tour, so it’s gift shop time! Open the junk drawer and allow everyone to take one item. Tell each family member a long-winded spiel about the authenticity of the item before charging them 15 euros apiece.
10:10 a.m. Have everyone stomp on their item. That’s what happens on a trip!
10:15 a.m. It’s time to try to take public transportation to a cultural site. Run as fast as you can through the house and yard, screaming, “Are you sure this is the right train?” as you go. Once everyone is panting, announce that it was not the right train, and you need to now find the bus. Run back through the house and yard.
11:00 a.m. Draw straws to decide who will have a major meltdown at the cultural site. Do not exclude adults.
11:20 a.m. The cultural site has closed. Plan out how to return to the hotel.
12:15 p.m. Oh no! The train agents have asked to see your tickets! You don’t have them! Time for someone else to melt down.
2:45 p.m. You made it back to the hotel, and since it is now almost 8 p.m., it’s time for dinner. Serve everyone your best boxed pasta, offering to ladle as much grated cheese on it as they would like. Sniff disapprovingly no matter how much they ask for.
3:30 p.m. Allow everyone, adults included, to bury themselves in their phones for as long as they’d like. Make sure you pull up a beautiful sunset picture on your largest screen that they can ignore.
3:55 p.m. Time for everyone under 12 to head to bed. Offer to sing a European lullaby to them, like “Frère Jacques” or “99 Luftballoons.” No one will take you up on that.
4:30 p.m. Just as you’re about to suggest what (ahem) adults might (wink, wink) do on vacation, realize that your partner has fallen asleep with the tour-book draped across their chest. Tuck them into bed, and crawl in, yourself. Might as well get some shut-eye since it’s 9:30. After all, tomorrow’s another day of touring beautiful Europe!
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