Preparing for a Vacation

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VacayPrep1Put your best foot forward while doing all that walking.

My son Max, 15, and I had a great – though abbreviated – time exploring New York City after the close of the Family Travel Conference earlier this month. We walked the Times Square area to soak in the atmosphere. Then, at Max’s request, we headed to Greenwich Village, where he added to his vinyl record collection and I felt a bit proud for snagging free parking. The rest of the family enjoyed hearing about our adventures. In fact, they were jealous – so much so that we decided to return to NYC for Spring Break this year.

We haven’t really made any solid plans for our three day trip (April 9-11). Food, lodging and attractions are still up in the air and subject to debate. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t getting ready. One thing we know for sure – whatever we do in New York, we’ll be doing a lot of walking. So we want to make sure our family (and our feet) are ready for it.

My husband and my son Sean both run, so they’re all set. But for the rest of us, a training plan is a must. After all, we don’t want to stop our journey half-way up the Empire State Building because someone has sore feet!



The best way to get ready for the walking involved in this type of vacation is to, well, start walking. I try to do a mile a day first thing in the morning. (Yes, I am a minion of Leslie Sansone.) So this past week I’ve ramped up the morning routine, doing an extra mile in the morning as well as adding walking wherever I can throughout the day. My sleep has been a bit disturbed this week, but I’m sure my feet will thank me in April.

I checked with my personal doctor, who also suggested single leg balancing for those who have week feet. Just lift one of your legs and balance on the other for 30 seconds to build up the foot. Then do the same on the other side.

As a family, we are trying to increase our regular activity to prepare for vacation. After all, we plan to cover a lot of ground, so we better be ready.


Another essential component of a successful walking vacation is, of course, the shoes. People (read: my husband) get pretty emotional about shoe choice. As a runner, he always emphasizes the importance of the fit of the shoe for proper foot health and support.

I’m more about comfort. Yeah, I know my Keds looked hopelessly out of style while chasing him around while he ran the Disney marathon. But hey, my feet felt good at the end of the day, and that’s all that matters to me.

Of course, when we’re talking New York, we are talking style, so the Keds will stay at home. I recently discovered Cushe shoes and my feet have fallen hard for their style, support and slip-on ease. In fact, the other morning I was heading down stairs to do my walking tape. I got dressed in the dark, and thought I had put on my comfy Keds. When I got down stairs, I realized the Cushes were on – and they felt great throughout my workout. I’m definitely packing these for Spring Break.

Other shoe tips:

  • Shoes are a personal matter. Some people can do the town in heels, while others need to stick to sneakers. The important thing is to know this ahead of time – not find out once you’re there.
  • Bring at least two pair of comfortable walking shoes. A walking vacation is not the time or place to break in a new pair of shoes, but that’s exactly what happens if your ONLY pair of shoes gets dirty or broken. Take a tip from the boy scouts, and be prepared.
  • Try your shoes with your socks (if you’ll be wearing them). The most comfortable sneakers become torture if your socks are constantly bunching up inside.


I try to live by the Boy Scout motto: be prepared. In this case, we’re doing our prep work, but I’ll be prepared for the worst. I’m stocking the first aid kit with products for our feet – for protection (sunscreen, zinc oxide tape, talcum powder), for recuperation (blister-sized bandaids, cooling ointments, NeoSporin) and for pampering (moisturizer, bath salts, exfoliating cream).

And an appointment for a pedicure post-trip certainly wouldn’t hurt.

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About The Author

Mary Dixon Lebeau was forced into East Coast travel. A Jersey girl herself, Mary married a guy from New England who has a penchant for Florida, so she has become acquainted with – and loves – all the wonderful sites from Caribou, Maine to Key West, Florida. Mary is also adept at creating vacations that are “one size fits all.” The mother of five (ranging from “Expedition Everest” to “Dumbo”), she has become skilled at planning for all ages, collecting kiddie swap passes and making sure everyone is happy (sometimes all at the same time). A former newspaper columnist, Mary is now a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Parents, Parenting, Pregnancy, Conceive and Family Circle (are you sensing a theme?). She was also the former travel editor at REAL Magazine (RIP). Her essays have appeared in such publications as the Christian Science Monitor, God Allows U Turns, and four different editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

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