A few weeks ago we got to hear our friend, Barb Dunn-Swanson, featured on Iowa Public Radio talking about family vacations. We learned a lot about “family leisure”, and we heard that some of the value of family vacation comes from quality family time – whether home or away! As I think back on my family vacations growing up, I have positive memories of visiting new places, relaxing in the sun, and laughing while playing family games. But if I really think about it, I can also remember the stress my mom experienced trying to spend money wisely, to navigate in a new city, or to get my siblings and I to stop fighting after so much time together. Now as a parent myself, I am in the process of planning a family vacation, and I’m finding the stress holds true for me too.
Luckily, when it comes to family vacation, our kids are likely going to remember the good stuff. Similar to the stories we heard from callers on the radio show, nearly all of them were sharing fond memories of family vacations. So let’s stop here for a moment, take a breath. Remember that the time, energy, and money you are allocating toward a family vacation (or stay-cation!) is likely going to result in positive family memories down the road!
For me, I think of one vacation in particular where my family went on an out-of-state trip. I look back on that time together and I remember binge-watching (before that was even cool!) a TV show we all liked. I remember playing tennis for one of the first times – a sport which I grew to love and eventually qualified for the state tournament in high school. I remember going on rides at an amusement park. I remember that my sister and I shared a bed on one family vacation and my sister kept me awake by TALKING in her sleep, something I still like to bring up from time to time.
So as you examine tourism brochures, scour the internet for the best travel deals, or are exploring information about local parks, remember the outcome you are working toward. Remember that while you may be stressing to plan a “perfect vacation”, you are creating a prime opportunity for family memories that will be talked about for years to come. In short, cut yourself some slack (whether in emotional energy or in dollars), and look forward to the fun that lies ahead!