A Guide for Surviving your Type A spouse’s Vacation Assault Plan

Now that another summer is upon us, I offer advice for fellow Type B Personalities preparing for vacations with their Type A spouses.

Many have married Type A spouses upon whom we rely for all the high-intensity, detail-filled tasks that are essential to health and harmony.  The Type A in the family is the go-getter, the organizer, the protagonist for family involvement, the anti-couch potato … all good things.

Unfortunately, some Type As tend to transform into General Patton when it comes to the family vacation.  They plan and execute the summer get-aways like the D-Day invasion of Fortress Europe.

There are Objectives, Operational Plans, and Time Tables.  The pace of operations can be intense and unforgiving.  And if you tire; get “wounded”; or fall off the pace, you’re likely to be left by the side of the road like a piece of carrion for the buzzards.

OK … Just a bit of hyperbole there.  And maybe there’s nothing amiss with some high-intensity activity on a vacation.  Many seem not to mind …

But if YOU are the family couch potato – as am I – and come ill-prepared for the duration and intensity in this Theatre of Operations, a much-anticipated vacation could end up as your own personal version of the Donner Party.

So with my years of experience at being driven forward by my more energetic, highly motivated, hyper-vacationated spousal unit, allow me to offer some timely advice.  Keep in mind that each trial, hurdle, ache, and injury will be multiplied by the number of children you will be lunging around on wheels or strapped to your back like a rucksack full of rocks!

Hints for Type B Survival

  1. Get in touch with Type A reality:  Some people – or so I’m told – go on vacations to unwind, to regroup, to blow off steam, to reflect, to recharge the batteries … to RELAX!  But any Type A Vacation Survivor will tell you, you cannot spell R-E-L-A-X from V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N!  All you will get from your Type A partner is the “A” … and that “A” stands for Apathy!

Once rid of your Type B Vacation misapprehensions, you will understand and – more importantly – SURVIVE what is in store for you.

2. Cardiovascular health:  Make sure you are physically fit and ready for a grind.  Type A Vacations can include hand-to-hand combat, tests of agility, decision-making under extreme stress, and plenty of wind sprints.

And that’s just getting to the kiddies to breakfast!

  • So lose the excess weight.
  • Hit the elliptical trainer and the StairMaster.
  • Work on BOTH speed and endurance.

You’re going to need it!

I learned, a bit too late to save my naive impressions of what vacations are, that Carol and I were raised in families that lived at Polar Extremes of the Vacation Continuum of Leisure (VCL). 

When my family went on vacations we tended to gravitate towards the South Jersey shore points, where Leisure is spelled with a capital “L”.  What “stress” there was came in deciding where to eat; the too long/too late obligatory excursions on the boardwalk; and the occasional case of sunburn.

Not so my better-half’s family vacation experiences … 

Whereas my family’s vacations seemed geared towards resting and refreshing hard-working adults, her family’s vacations were about The Experience … Cramming in as much as they could into every trip … Trying not to miss a single offering or opportunity presented by whatever venue they visited … Hit the ground running and don’t stop until the money is gone or the hotel insists that your stay has ended!

Carol will claim it is not so; but I have the scars that prove otherwise!

3. Strength training:  You’ll want to bulk up normally for any vacation … all that baggage rustling, equipment stowage and deployment can test your back, arms and legs.

Many Type A’s look upon hotel check-in as an unnecessary hinderance to getting all the “fun” started.  If given their way, they would forego completely any hotel interaction until as late as possible on Vacation D-Day.

If given the choice, they would prefer to jump, tuck ‘n roll from the still-moving car and commence immediately with the festivities.  This is why my Type A always wore her bathing suit on our drives down to the South Jersey shore.

However, this tendency becomes a real problem when visiting far-flung, ridiculously large vacation sites like Disney World.  Dragging all those suitcases through The Magic Kingdom for hours on D-Day, before your Type A agrees to “waste time” checking-in, can be exhausting.  So make sure you pay extra attention to strengthening your large muscle groups of the legs and back!

It’s hard not to reflect on our earlier vacations to the beach when the boys were but wee lads.  The amount of equipment … strollers, porta-cribs, high chairs, toys … we had to drag along was mind-boggling. 

I can remember staring at the back of our Dodge Grand Caravan thinking, “I’ll never get all this crap in there or on the roof.” 

Of course just about then, General Patton would stick her head out the door and ask me why I was relaxing!!             

4. Get your rest before you go:  Yeah, I know … Get my rest BEFORE vacation?!?  Trust me!  As stated above, you cannot spell R-E-L-A-X …  Anyway, it’s simple.  Be prepared to GO GO GO from dawn to midnight!  You will be allowed to relax when you sleep or should you be lucky enough to eat at a food source where you can sit down and eat. (This usually depends on the progress of the Operational Plan vis-a-vis Time Tables.)

5. Know your rights!  This is the toughest part of being a Type B soul trapped in a Type A vacation.

Scenario: It’s been four days of hard-driving, high intensity, calf-burning activity.  You look longingly at the hotel pool, the water of which you fear will never get the chance to wash over your cramping, stressed-filled body.  You heard rumor that the tiki bar has been hopping the last two nights – while you were pushing four-year-old Gertrude and six-year-old Jeffrey in a double-wide dolphin stroller through 25 miles of SeaWorld until midnight.

You just want a few hours doing nothing more than read a book; float in the pool; or down a few mai tais.  But you know that the Operations Plan does not allow for idle time.  Failure to adhere to The Schedule will throw the entire expedition into chaos and anarchy.

What’s a Type B to do?!?


That’s right, exercise your God-given right to refuse to do anything more than sit around and contemplate your navel!

Why should Teachers, Communication Workers, and Teamsters have all the fun?!?

Where’s the compassion?  Where’s the solidarity??  Where are the damn mai tais?!?

Now that being said, General Patton will be more than slightly miffed at your insubordination and temerity.  They will huff and puff; threaten and cajole; plead in the name of the Operations Schedule.


The sole purpose of such wheedling is to wring another day’s worth of blood from a turnip.  And oddly enough, turnips are what your knotted, cramped legs probably look like at this point of your Type A Vacation!

First off … NO TEARS!!  Crying is a sign of weakness to the Type A Personality.  They will roll over you like Hitler took the French!

If the Type A pressure persists, simply put on your Alec Guinness stiff upper lip; whistle the tune from The Bridge on the River Kwai; and stand your ground!

Simply state in your firmest, most reasonable voice that you will be taking a day off, and that you would be willing to watch the kids at the pool so that General Patton can dangle a foot off the dock for a few hours as well.

This strategy has worked for me in the past.  General Patton by this point accepts our labor standoffs with rolled eyes and an exasperated huff.  One year she actually chose to forego the pool day and went solo into The Magic Kingdom just to reconnoiter the next day’s Mission.

Like many typical Type A Vacation Generalissimos …

The Next Mission is what vacation is all about!

6 thoughts on “A Guide for Surviving your Type A spouse’s Vacation Assault Plan

  1. Regular yoga practice can help Type A people learn to relax. It’s a discipline. Also, if possible, schedule a professional massage the first day of a vacation. The relaxation will help make the whole trip less stressful.


    • Those who have walked in these shoes, as you can well attest, appreciate the overwhelming feeling of exhaustion from such “vacations”. The phrase “I need a vacation from my vacation.” never rang truer than during our assault on the Magic Kingdom (circa 2004)!!


  2. Proper vacationing includes a balance of activity and relaxation, some people tend to tip the scales a bit too far on the relaxing or activity side. Either way, most vacations involve trips to locations not often or never visited in the past by said vacationers, so it is understandable to try to maximize the enjoyment of these relatively unique / unseen experiences / locales. Sometimes these trips tend to involve persons visiting whom we don’t often get to see and the creation of memories through shared activities, be they aerobic or somewhat less so, is the goal of the interaction of the visit.

    I remember one visitor, named Anonymous, who directed during a touristy So. Cal. vacation that he / she wanted an “easy day” which consisted of sitting around most of the day with limited activity; this was fine with everyone because we all could use a rest from time to time. Anonymous pledged that he / she would be ready for an “early start” the next day and boldly announced he / she would be ready to leave from some amusement park or whatever at 11:00 a.m., some “early start.”

    Anonymous and I would stay up until about midnight each night playing what then was a high tech golf game called Waialea (sic) Golf. A defining moment of the vacation, for Anonymous was after the loading of 4 little kids and stuff in the van, I prepared to back out OF THE DRIVEWAY looked over to Anonymous, my navigator for the drive, and his / her head was alternately dropping and snapping upward as he / she dozed off IN THE FRIGGIN DRIVEWAY. Thereafter, Anonymous was renamed “Bob” (non-gender specific name) for the remainder of the trip.

    I suppose we can make room in our world for both “A” and “B” types of vacationing activity. It is sometimes though hard to figure out home / why some vacationers approach such enjoyable times the way they do…..


    • Balance is the key. If one is on “vacation”, but they’ve been worked like a team of draft horses – driven hard and put up wet – for three days, you can certainly EXPECT some sort of labor strife, perhaps even a palace revolt (Disney World ’04, I think). The unique ability of the Type B persona when confronted by such conditions, especially when enforced by mob rule, is their ability to R-E-L-A-X (Still a dirty word to many Type A’s, happy/cheery morning types, and other vacation nazis) wherever the opportunity presents itself. If it so happens to be in the car, backing out of the driveway in prelude to a three-hour drive to some backwoods ancient battlefield or a triathalon through WallyWorld, then – in the tradition of well-experienced, low-ranking GIs – rest will taken wherever it be found!


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