I can’t remember taking real vacations as a kid. Mom and Dad, and later just Mom because Dad died when I was 10, didn’t have the money or time. Life was hard, well much harder than today. Plus, loading up four kids in an old Ford that wasn’t really that reliable just didn’t happen. Well, except once. Shortly after Dad passed away, Mom loaded all us kids into the old Ford and drove us to Florida. That wasn’t an easy trip at all. There wasn’t a completed Interstate 95 all the way to Aunt Lily Bell’s, as we fondly called Delilah Mabel one of Dad’s 7 sisters (and his most favorite for sure), so the drive was probably mighty stressful for Mom.

I remember as we passed into the ‘Sunshine State’ it was raining cats and dogs. You could barely see the highway. The windshield wipers were flailing back and forth but couldn’t keep the torrential downpour off the windshield. We had no defroster, so it was fogging up with the humidity and all the heavy breathing, yes, screaming, of us kids. My younger sister and I were in the back seat, I think fighting. My older sister and brother (yes, riding ‘shotgun’) were in front. Yes, the plastic still on the seats was being clinched and peeled away as we all experienced probably our very first tropical storm. No idea how Mom did this. It surely was pure love. Mom wanted to give us kids something special to have after Dad’s untimely passing. Something fun. Something we’d never had before.

So, we, ‘the Squatleys’, as we dubbed ourselves, finally pulled into Aunt Lily Bell’s where she and Uncle Frank, the sun finally shining and the skies blue, opened their arms and welcomed us with love and graciousness. We felt like royalty. Florida was the land of opportunity and the brave new world. I honestly don’t think I’d traveled beyond the state of West Virginia before then.

No doubt, vacations should be fun and relaxing. Ours to Florida as a kid turned out that way once we got to Aunt Lily Bell’s. They usually last anywhere from about a week to 10 days, if you’re lucky. Today there’re also ‘staycations’—yes, those few days, maybe two or three, that you step away from work, stay at home, save some money on lodging and meals, and allow yourself to experience what’s beautiful and entertaining in/near your home. Now I’d like to share with you my latest escapade—it’s call the ‘cramcation’. Yes, it’s already coined by Urban Dictionary.
cramcation: 10 guidelines for success
When I Googled ‘cramcation guidelines’ nothing came up except ‘cremation guidelines.’ Then I Googled ‘cramcation articles’ and the there were 6 entries, the first ‘What is Genocide?’ I’m thinking this post may be trailblazing a popular new trend, And, if you find another ‘cramcation’ post or blog, please let me know!

Cramcation is a Hail Mary effort to cram into a very short amount of time a trip away from home doing as much as you can. I’ve done it, so I know it’s doable. And, I can assure you if you follow these guidelines, it’s gonna be a lot of fun because you’ll make some outrageous memories! We’ll be doing it again and again.

Scroll on for the 10 guidelines & what we did & some of my photo journal! Now remember these are my guidelines since the only thing I could find on a cramcation was the definition:
n. A vacation planned and executed in a very small amount of time
KID: There’s only a few days before school starts 🙁
PARENTS: Welp, time for a Cramcation!

cramcation: 10 guidelines for success

1. A cramcation lasts no longer than about 36-42 hours. Only one overnight required.
2. A cramcation has a destination that is no more than 4 hours straight driving distance to/from your home.
3. A cramcation should be two to four people max. Any more than that and you’re gonna have chaos.

cramcation: 10 guidelines for success
4. A cramcation destination should have things to do—doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy schmancy—hiking, biking, fishing, museums (local and pertinent to area), etc., maybe a downtown area.
5. A cramcation should have a cooler packed with lunch, snacks and drinks both coming and going because you need to make picnics part of the travel.

cramcation: 10 guidelines for success
6. Cramacation driving should be leisurely. If the distance requires 4 hours of travel, then make it 6 or 7 stopping for lunch and to read historical markers, stop at scenic lookouts, take photos or just meander in a cool little town you might stumbled upon (yeah, take a detour) and look for a coffee shop. Remember, part of the adventure takes place in the vehicle!  Yep, you’re all stuck together. You have to like each other. You talk!

cramcation: 10 guidelines for success
7. A cramcation means booking a hotel, finding a camp site, sleeping in your camper and having lodging (reservations or not) for one night.

cramcation: 10 guidelines for success
8. A cramcation has at least two meals eaten out. Treat yourself. Usually dinner at a nice place the evening of the first day. Maybe breakfast the next morning. Then more exploration in your destination. And, spring for a sweet lunch!
9. A cramcation driving route to the destination should be off the beaten track if possible. Interstates are boring. And, by all means, find side roads to explore. Oh, yes, very important! Don’t drive there/back on the same route—change it up!

cramcation: 10 guidelines for success
10. A cramcation should be with people who are flexible, who love adventure, who are resilient, adaptable and who are not whiners and complainers. There should be lots of conversation, laughter and desire for making remarkable memories! And, don’t forget the wine opener for the wilderness or backroads!

cramcation: 10 guidelines for success

So what did the three of us, Ally, Whitney and Ben, do on our cramcation that lasted less than 36 hours:

  • Drove about 400 miles.
  • Went over three passes in Colorado: McClure Pass, Kebler Pass, Cottonwood Pass.

cramcation: 10 guidelines for success

  • Shopped & bought cowboy shirts & a classic Swiss Army knife in Carbondale at a gas station while filling up.
  • Had two picnics—Paonia State Park and somewhere off the road driving over Cottonwood Pass.

cramcation: 10 guidelines for success

cramcation: 10 guidelines for success

cramcation: 10 guidelines for success

  • Shopped for travel grub at the local’s grocery store, Clark’s Market. Yep, got a roasted bird for the roadside eats!

  • Stopped at historical markers and places along the way. Took lots of pictures and shared on social media when we could get a connection.
  • Drove over dirt, gravel and washboard roads that gave us a run for our money at elevations that made our hands clammy. Believe me, to ease our jitters, we were doing our Pranayama breathing!

cramcation: 10 guidelines for success

  • Watched the movie “National Treasure” late at night—well, I did. My travel buddies snoozed!
  • Pee’d in the woods. Told tall tales. Ate leftovers from the Italian restaurant the next morning.

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  • Ran into major rock blasting on McClure Pass within one mile of the turn to Kebler Pass. So we had to turn around and take a 50-mile detour to get to Kebler Pass.
  • Crossed the Continental Divide at 12k+ feet driving over Cottonwood Pass.
  • Got home. Unloaded the car. Took long hot showers & crashed for the night!

cramcation: 10 guidelines for success

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