By Bethaney Wallace
When I was in grade school, each new school year presented the opportunity to recount what I had done during the summer months. When classes resumed I was asked to describe what I had been doing with my time away. The grade usually correlated to the amount of work that was required: in kindergarten I gave a show and tell presentation; in the sixth grade, I wrote an essay. Each fall I would tell my teacher the same thing: I told them about my summer vacation. Sightseeing at the Grand Canyon, building sand castles on the beach, or navigating our way through Disneyland – my family always went on a vacation. It was a bonding experience, my parents said, and we were required to spend at least an entire week together – whether we were to be cramped in a single cruise ship cabin or lounging in an entire rented cottage – the time was to be spent together.
The first vacation I have memories from is when I was five years old and my parents, baby sister and I went to the Lake of the Ozarks. I may not remember much of the scenery, or any of the lake for that matter. But I do remember listening to the neighborhood band play in the park while I climbed the jungle gym. I remember going to day camp and creating my own bejeweled hat while my parents were off doing boring adult things. For anyone who debates sending their children off to day camp programs, it was the highlight of my trip.
Since that initial vacation, my family has traveled to a new location each year. Each destination was a new place to explore and buy tacky souvenirs to bolster our vacation T-shirt collection: one for every location. During my teenage years I was a little less enthusiastic to oblige my parents’ vacation plans, but by the time I hit college I was begging them to extend the trips a day or two longer to enjoy the momentary respite from studying and the less than desirable college dining hall food.
Why should your family travel together?
Vacations aren’t just to “get away from it all” or for the relaxation. In fact, anyone who has ever gone on a family vacation – especially with young children – can tell you they are often far from relaxing. What family vacations do provide is an unparalleled bonding experience. Sharing new and exciting experiences with your family connects you in a way that few other events allow. The activities, the meals, even arguing over who was at fault for getting lost are moments that you and your family will always cherish.
Enough with the gushy stuff. When it comes down to it – even with the budget restrictions, the challenges of traveling with youngsters, or the stress of planning – in the long run, family time trumps all the obstacles.
This summer, my family went to Chicago, and due to work conflicts I wasn’t able to join them for the first time since our summer family vacation initiative began. They showed me pictures and brought back my obligatory keepsake (a poster from Wrigley field). But I missed out on the road trips; I missed out on arguing over what we were having for dinner, or what museum would have the best exhibits; I missed out on all of the fun.
Next summer, when my parents schedule our annual trip’s destination and dates, I will take off work months in advance. When I return and my boss asks how my trip was, I’ll give my vacation presentation, the same way I did in elementary school. Family vacations are an important part of my life, I’ll tell him. And I have the T-shirts to prove it.
Bethaney Wallace is a social media advocate for the mortgage rates website, MortgageSum. She is passionate about blogging and family vacations.