1. We plan! We look forward to vacations, so we plan them at the beginning of each year (and sometimes years in advance.) My husband and I have a Wish List of places we’d like to visit. On our Wish List are places near and far; some require a passport, some are a car-ride away. We know we can’t do a “Wish List” vacation every year, but we look for ways some of them can be checked off and we work toward those goals. Luckily, our 15th wedding anniversary and 40th birthdays happen next year, so chances are, it will be an opportunity to mark off a “Wish List” vacation.
2. We save! We know vacations will cost more than if we were staying at home and eating meals in. We look at our vacations and estimate what we can spend on each one and we save over time for these trips. Sometimes it works the other way around. There are trips we plan based on what we can save. Either way, we make sure the funds are available to take a trip. There’s no benefit to putting a vacation on credit and resenting the financial burden later.
3. We are sensible! Some people even call it “cheap.” We use every opportunity we can to pack our lunches or buy groceries and cook meals onsite when we travel. Sometimes, the small cost of a room with a kitchen is worth the savings of not dining out each night while vacationing. We don’t buy souvenirs or unnecessary gifts on our trip. Our kids are very familiar with hearing the word “no” from us when we’re in a gift shop or at an amusement park. They bring their own money for any purchases they choose to make, which makes their purchases very minimal. We look for discount coupons, Groupons, passes, or free admissions to parks, zoos, and other attractions. We usually do this in advance so we have an idea of what we’ll spend.
4. We savor the moments! Sometimes our Family Vacations aren’t about where we’re going, it’s about quality family time. We may be in our home state, staying in a hotel for the night just so we can swim in the winter. We may be camping in the rain 5 minutes from our house because it feels like a vacation and we can tell scary ghost stories. We may visit friends or family we don’t often see. Or we may be playing at the beach for 5 days straight because it doesn’t cost a thing. All of these special times together are snapshots we can save and the memories made on family vacations are really important to us.
5. We reconnect! The burden of everyday life can really wear us down, but when we’re on vacation we are able to really live in the moment. We leave our computers at home, we don’t feel compelled to check email on our phones, we let our calls go to voicemail and we… TALK! Just like in the olden times. We play silly games in the car, like “Would You Rather” or License Plate Bingo or we make some up.
6. We go on adventures! We choose activities we don’t do at home and savor our vacation destination. We’ve seen bears in Alaska, we’ve kayaked in estuaries in Florida, we’ve climbed rocks in Kentucky, we’ve hiked rainforests in Washington, we’ve searched for sand dollars in South Carolina. We also try to incorporate this adventurous spirit close to home. We’ve taken geocaching days with the kids near our home. It’s like a treasure hunt and the kids love it. We take nature hikes and see views we’d never see from our car or anywhere else. We go to local festivals, farms, and events. These are the mini-vacations that cost very little, but have a huge impact on our family.
Spending time as a family is incredibly important to me and going on vacations and mini-vacations has become one way we connect and enjoy time together. What are some vacations you’ve taken as a family? I’d love to hear about trips you’ve taken or stay-cations that have strengthened your family bond. Please share your ideas and comments below.