My parents used to take my siblings and me on family vacations. We traveled by a 1976 Winnebago, by mini-van, by train and plane at different times. Often the trips were planned around visiting relatives, seeing historical landmarks or sights, visiting National Parks with a few of my dad’s business meetings in between it all. From Gettysburg to the Magnificent Mile in Chicago to Yellowstone National Park to Seattle’s Space Needle, we took family vacations. I don’t remember taking care of any of the details of preparing for them. And there was no expense to me. We played a lot of tapes on road trips and sang a lot of songs. We ate food my mom had packed, McDonald’s drive-thru anywhere my dad (who at the time had McDonald’s as a client) could find one and a few sit-down restaurants were special treats. I have oodles of fun family memories from our adventures, stories my siblings and I will forever laugh about and a few pictures in a box from my mom’s point and shoot 35mm camera.
Nathan and I discussed our family vacation memories this week. He too has oodles of family fun adventures. He talked in detail of the two-week vacation his parents took he and sister on in 1983 to Florida. Without the internet. Without smart phones. Just with maps and pay phones along the way.
Our parents were raised by parents that didn’t take regular family vacations. There was maybe one big road trip to visit a historical site or to attend a family reunion in a nearby state. Or a train trip to visit an aunt. But it was a once in a childhood event.
It was a different time. A different way. Our grandparents were working tirelessly to make a better life for their children. And in both Nathan’s and my family, they did it with great success. In their later years, our grandparents were able to travel and see places they didn’t travel to in their child raising years. Our grandparents raised our parents who worked tirelessly to make a great life for their kids, for us. In a different time, it allowed for more family vacations, for more adventures away from home.
Now we are able to give our kids family fun adventures. Our parents join us from time to time. A few years, Nathan’s parents went with us. This year, my parents met up with us in Disney World. Multi-generational family trips are richly rewarding for all of us.
Some years, it is just the five of us. We travel by car, train, plane and boat. Our kids don’t know the time or expense that go into a family vacation.
They only know the adventure. The fun. The memories. And we are thankful for the ability to give it to them.
Is there a need for family vacations? Absolutely. No matter the location or miles traveled, what I think we need is an annual break from the routine of everyday life. A few moments to rest. A few moments for adventures. A few moments to create different family fun memories in a new environment than the usual place we call home. We did that over the past week. We are recharged and ready to return to our everyday prairie life. And on a long, hard day in the future, we have an array of fun family adventures to draw upon, to bring a smile to our face and remember what is most important in life.
What’s your favorite family vacation memory?