Taking vacations with kids is what summer is all about!
Whenever summer comes I think camping and airplanes and laughter and hotel rooms and bugs.
And it’s awesome.
My youngest daughter turned 20 last week, so I have no more teenagers. But we still try to take family vacations once a year, because they meant so much to us as the kids grew up.
Last week I was talking about how sometimes vacations with kids need to be the priority–even beyond couple time. We need that time to bond as a family!
Tomorrow I’m leaving on vacation–though with my mom, rather than with my kids. So I don’t have a lot of time to write a post this week. But I wrote one last year about vacationing with kids that I just love, and I thought I would run it today to encourage all of you to get outside, sit in a hammock with a book, explore some historical areas in your town–or just laugh with your kids. It’s time that you will always, always cherish!
Here’s what I wrote last year: Top 10 reasons family vacations rock.
1. Vacations don’t have to be expensive
We started going camping in a tent trailer with the kids when they were little. Nothing could be cheaper–about $30 a night for the site, and then we make our own food. And we went with friends, so the kids created these vacation traditions. We adults had a great time together, too!
Now, we’ve also taken some expensive vacations–we took the kids and my mom on a Baltic cruise this year, for instance. But just because you don’t have a lot of money doesn’t mean that you can’t take a vacation! We even found renting an RV when we went to the Grand Canyon wasn’t that expensive, because we didn’t have to rent a car, and we could prepare all of our own food (since food is often what drives the price of vacations up!).
(And if you want to go the RV route, here are 10 things we learned last year about living in an RV while hubby & I were on the road!)
2. Kids learn about nature
We’ve always loved going places where nature is one of the big attractions–the Grand Canyon, the Bay of Fundy, even just camping. Wherever we go we like to take hikes and explore. My kids love being outdoors, and I think being up close and personal with nature teaches you so much about life and about God–and vacations are one of the best times to experience this.
3. Kids learn about history and the rest of the world
When we’re driving, we always take detours whenever there’s something historical. I remember driving through Massachusetts once and coming upon a sign for the Louisa May Alcott home. That was cool, because we had just finished reading Little Women! And I find that kids naturally like museums, if you start them young. They enjoy discovering things. Even if you’re going to have a “stay-cation” near your home, it’s amazing how many things there likely are right around you to discover when you go looking for them.
4. You create so many memories
We tend to remember things that are out of the ordinary. That’s why taking a week or two out of our normal busy-ness and doing something completely different can be so precious for the family. And we tend to remember things more when we laugh as well! And laughter is much easier when you’re away from work, away from stress, and even away from the phone!
5. You have a shared experience
Vacations aren’t ONLY about creating memories–they’re about sharing something. When we went on our Baltic cruise we had two days in St. Petersburg, visiting the Hermitage and several palaces. But I think what made the whole thing even more special was the time we spent around the table at dinner debriefing and processing everything we had seen. The stark contrast between the immense wealth in the palaces and the buildings that were crumbling down all around us was jarring. And the feeling in the air was something I couldn’t really explain.
But as we all talked about it together, and shared what we had each thought, it crystallized more.
Then there are the shared experiences when you accomplish something–like getting through the random searches in security or dealing with a crazy tour guide. You feel more like you’ve accomplished something together, sort of like you’re a victorious team!
Sometimes the accomplishment is a simple one–“Mommy and Daddy didn’t kill each other trying to put up the dining tent this year!” (seriously, that was a big accomplishment). But it’s good to celebrate these victories.
6. You forge a new unit
One of the reasons we went on the cruise this summer was because we have a new member in our family, and we wanted to cement us as a NEW family unit. We wanted some family memories and experiences that we made together that included Connor, since all of our family shorthand and memories are totally new to him. And since Keith and I have never lived in the same city as Connor, it gave us a chance to get to know him better by spending two weeks straight with him.
Whenever there’s a new member of the family, I think you need that time to make new memories, so that they’re not always feeling left out, and so that you have a chance to feel more like a team all together!
7. You get away from screens
At home we’re constantly wired. We watch Netflix, we check social media, we answer emails. On vacation we often deliberately don’t have access to wifi 24/7. When camping there often aren’t signals! And on the cruise internet is super expensive, so we only used it sporadically in cafes. So you get to actually enjoy being together and play games together, rather than just spend time with screens.
(Although, of course, we all had our phones with us this year. Katie still had to instagram!)
8. Kids spend time with each other, not with friends
When you’re on vacation as a family, you have to spend time together. Kids have to entertain themselves together, and not with friends. And if your kids are in different classes at school and different activities after school and have different groups of friends, vacations can be one of the times that they actually learn how to relate as siblings again!
9. You can catch up on hobbies and reading
I get most of my novel reading done on vacations. If I read a novel at home, I can’t stop, and then I don’t get any work done. But when there’s no work to do? It’s bliss! And my kids have always loved knitting and reading on vacations, too.
10. Something always go wrong–and that’s funny!
Finally, some of our best memories and the things that we laugh about the most are when things go wrong while you’re on vacation. Daddy takes a wrong turn and we end up on a detour with the GPS to telling us to drive straight into a lake. We head camping for a week and it rains the majority of the time, so we teach someone how to play chess.
The weather wasn’t the best on our cruise this summer, but that’s okay. We just went with it! And sometimes it’s those less than perfect moments when you have to improvise and just choose to laugh anyway that end up sticking with you.
We all need time to destress, and to laugh, and to just experience things together. And vacations are great times to do that!
You know, I appreciate you all taking the time and comment over the weekend and on last week’s post on what you think of family vacations. I like feeling like this blog is a little bit of a conversation–it’s not just me speaking, it’s you all speaking, too. That’s why I like the reader questions on Mondays so much, because I get to address what you all are asking. And I like it when we can talk about things, too.
So let’s talk about this more: why do you love family vacations? And best of all, any tips on doing it cheaply? Leave those tips and thoughts in the comments and let’s help each other!