Many years ago, Chris, Natalie, and I took our first family vacation. The three of us went to Kiawah Island in South Carolina with my side of the family. We rented a vacation home from a local doctor which was a short walk to the beach. It was an amazing experience for our entire family!
That was the trip where Chris and I realized just how important family vacations were to our little family! Not only was it magical to witness our 1-year old’s first ocean visit, but the time spent with my parents and siblings are still some of our fondest memories.
Two summers before, we rented a houseboat with Chris’ family on Laurel Lake. This was also an amazing trip, and we had a blast with his family! But the first excursion with our own little one made us realize how much we enjoyed travel, and how much we wanted to explore the world with our growing family.
Since our first adventure, we have made it a priority to take our family on numerous journeys, both near and far from home. Each excursion has taught us all something about ourselves, our family members, and the world around us. It has been amazing to watch our children as they have grown up learning about the world through these unique experiences!
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Family Vacations Mean so Much!
Family vacations can have a HUGE impact on your family, especially your children! Many people can’t afford a month-long tour of Europe (myself included) but there are ways to make travel more affordable for even the tightest budget. Taking a long weekend to explore a city close to home and camping at a nearby campground are cheaper ways to make a family vacation happen. Many state and national parks have affordable accommodations and offer even better rates during nonpeak seasons.
My point is, family vacations are extremely important for every family to experience. Why do I feel this way, you might ask?
To answer, let me give you my top most important reasons family vacations are so important.
Seeing New Things
Taking a trip, even a small one, allows you and your children to see new things outside of your everyday life. A change of scenery will often renew the body and spirit. Even if you go to the same beach every summer, or visit Gatlinburg in the fall, you’re still guaranteed to see something different each time you visit.
If you are able to visit someplace new, that’s even better! Experiencing an unfamiliar place with your closest family members is exciting and nerve-wracking. Taking the time to explore new places together will help your family bond grow.
Meeting New People
Every time you get out there into the big, wide world, you’re going to meet new people. Each of these people has come from different places, have a unique story, and they probably look at the world a little differently than you do. This experience is wonderful for everyone, but especially your children! Giving them the opportunity to see that not everyone lives and thinks as they do will be invaluable for the rest of their lives.
Some of our favorite vacation memories have been the people we’ve met while traveling. On an over-crowded bus in Rome, two kind ladies took pity and helped us find our correct stop to visit Vatican City. The subway workers went on strike the morning we had our scheduled tour of the Vatican, and we had NO idea what we were doing. They helped turn an insane morning into a fantastic day! The point is, meeting new people helps to broaden your view of the world.
Learning Something New
Any time you travel, you have the opportunity to learn something new. From navigating unfamiliar routes to visiting a historical site to learning about the local beach ecosystem, there’s always something to learn about the world around us!
Some of our favorite trips have been to visit historical sites. One long weekend we camped at Boonesborough State Park. During this trip, we visited the replica fort that is set up just like the original fort Daniel Boone built in the 1700s. Touring the Vatican Museums we were able to see tons of priceless artwork, some of which was almost a thousand years old! No matter where you travel, there is always something new to see or experience for you and your kids.
Working Through Challenges
Traveling carries with it a ton of challenges. Where to go, what to pack, what to do when you get there…. Every family has tons of decisions to make. Also, when you get to the destination, there will be difficulties in doing what you want to do. Your flight can get postponed or the weather can blow your awesome plans. When you work together as a family to overcome challenges, your family bond becomes so much stronger than it was!
Learning to Plan a Family Vacation
Talking about your trip and planning together is all part of the fun. Involving your kids in the challenges of where to go and what to do not only makes them feel important, but it also gives them a personal interest in what you plan to do.
Each of our kids enjoys planning different parts of every vacation we take. Natalie likes to help pre-plan each of our trips. She is awesome at finding accommodations, planning a route, and drawing up a packing list! Danielle is great for planning the spontaneous parts of any vacation! She is also an expert in finding and enjoying the more artistic and creative events on our trip. Keith is the absolute best at finding and enjoying nature! He’s great company to have when you’re out on a hike or enjoying the ocean waves. When we travel, each person in our family plays a special part in the whole process.
Becoming More Efficient
One of the most surprising benefits of traveling my family has learned is to be more efficient. Packing everything your family needs in suitcases and carry-on bags can be very tricky. Even when taking a road trip or a camping trip, you’re still limited in what you are able to pack. When you work together to decide what to pack and what to leave behind, you also learn to be more efficient in your daily life. You learn what matters to you and your family, and what you can cut out from your life.
From our many travels, we have learned to pack efficiently for each type of trip. What you need in Florida in July is completely different from what you need in the Pacific Northwest during the same time of year (we learned the hard way on that one). Learning to pack what you need, and not bring everything you own is a great skill for both kids and adults to develop!
Get to Know Your Family (Again)
Taking your family out of their ordinary routine and into a new location gives you all a whole new opportunity to get acquainted again. As your kids grow up, their opinions and likes and dislikes can change a lot! Spending some quality family time on vacation gives you the chance to share what’s going on with those that mean the most to you.
Making Unforgettable Family Vacation Memories
Some of our favorite family memories come from when we have been on vacation. Watching each child’s reaction as they first saw the ocean is a memory I still remember and will probably never forget. Every time we see the beach I reminisce about it!
All of our family trips, whether large or small, have some specific memories that are important for each of us. Hiking to Second Beach with Chris and Keith was an amazing adventure! Teaching the kids to navigate the Washington DC Metro several years ago was fun and a bit nerve-wracking, but it also made us super proud as they led us around the city.
Having Inside Jokes No One Else Can Possibly Understand
As you get to know your family all over again, making a closer bond between each of you, the “inside jokes” start to pop up. “Let’s go on an adventure!” has a different meaning in my family then it probably does for yours (don’t ask LOL), and “remember the time Keith fell on a turtle?” is something NO ONE else would get in a million years.
My point is, even though these inside jokes are pretty silly, and anyone listening into our conversations will think we’re a group of major weirdos, these hilarious sayings we share between our family members helps us to draw even closer to one another. That’s some good old-fashioned family bonding right there!
Enjoying What God has Created
No matter whether I’m gazing at a beautiful sunset off my back porch, or I’m on a whale watching tour in the Pacific Northwest, the beauty and majesty of God’s creation never cease to amaze me! Even when viewing man-made marvels like the Roman Aquaducts or riding a record-breaking roller coaster in Ohio, I’m simply awe-struck at the creativity and ingenuity needed to think up these structures. Gifts like these can only come from our Creator!
I hope that by learning some of my reasons for making family vacations important, you’ll realize that your family can benefit from creating memories of their own!
Please drop a comment or email me your favorite family vacations! Since we each take away something different, I’d love to hear why they are so important to you.
Coming soon- Tips to Ensure You Plan an Amazing Family Vacation. I’m also creating an Ultimate Family Vacation Destination Planning Worksheet and Ultimate Family Vacation Planning Checklist. Be sure to check it out soon!
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Until next time,