Family vacations

The benefits offered by family vacations can make a very significant difference in your standard of living. This is, primarily, due to the traditions related to family vacations. These traditions provide a fantastic vehicle for communication between the members of a family, allowing for a higher level of understanding of the motives and goals of each member of the family. Another benefit is the comfort that remains from the time spent together during these rituals, which is something that will make it easier to overcome times of crisis.

It is always a good idea to include everybody in these traditions. Remember to always offer a positive outlook and feedback to everybody; for instance, if the youngest child is starting to feel upset about the fact that he is not as quick at finding sand dollars as his older brothers and sisters, encourage him to keep looking. You can ask the other siblings to help him to grow his collection, too. Everybody will sooner or later pick up on your enthusiasm. There are a lot of different vacation tradition and it doesn’t really matter which ones you choose, what’s important is that they will promote cooperation and support among family members. These feelings are very important, and can be recreated anywhere you go.

Mapping the Route

It’s a good idea to start the vacation tradition before you start travelling. A few weeks before. Since children usually enjoy looking at maps and trying to figure out where they are and where they can go and how to get there, buying a few city or state maps so that they help you plot the route can be lots of fun. By plotting the route they will have a sense of involvement, and as result, they will be more excited about the family vacation. They will learn how to read a map, too.

The map is also a nice souvenir, which will remind you of the good time you had in this trip. You can make envelopes out of them to hold trip mementos, for example, or you can use them as background for scrapbook pages. This tradition is not only very enjoyable, it is also useful, because it can keep your kids busy when you may really need it, right before the trip, when you are making the last travel preparations, right before you hit the road.

Dining for More than Nourishment

Starting culinary traditions is something that everybody likes, and a family vacation is the perfect time to do it. Picnic lunches substituting fast-food is something the doctor would recommend, and so do I. If you make your own food you will not worry about the food that you will find at the airport, for example. Fresh vegetables, granola, cheese sticks and trail mix are things that the kids can put together, or pack at least, themselves. When children prepare their own food they are also more likely to eat it, which is a plus too.

Make it a habit to go to mom-and-pop kind of eateries, as it will give you and your family a deeper sense of the culture of the place that you’re at. You can always go to McDonald’s when you are at home, so why not try new things when you are at a new place? Another tradition will be eating at your favorite local establishment the next time you come back to this place.

Games

Travel games are a great addition to your family vacation. The best games are those that your children want to keep playing over and over again; bonus points if they don’t require any equipment or take up room. Your children may introduce these games to their own kids in the future. One of the games that most kids like playing is “I Spy.” Taking turns, each kid will spy a color or object in the car or outside the car, and the rest of the family will try to find out what it is. Another fun game: finding a license plat from a particular state, or from each state. For the older kids, you can also make acronyms with the license plate letters. For example, the letters ILJ could mean “I love juice”.

Souvenirs

The most common, and perhaps the best, souvenir is the photograph. Photographs allow you immortalize memories that you could forget about, and you can invent family traditions around them, too. You can, for example, make it a habit to take a photo of your kids next to each state line. Then, when you are back at home, you can use your favorite photo from the trip to make a family T-shirt, or perhaps make a T-shirt with a list of all the places that you and your family visited on your trip. You can find online shirt printers that will do the job, or you can do it yourself using iron-on transfers. You should show off all the little treasures that you may have collected along the way, don’t put them where they can’t be seen. Tree leaves, sea shells, or other objects, they are little treasures for you and your family that will remind you of all the good times that you spent travelling together. Collecting these little things could become a new family tradition, too.

Embracing the Destination

The destination of the vacation may very well be a family tradition, perhaps the most important one. If you find a place that everybody happens to like, such as a lakeside resort with plenty of nature around it, can become the place that your family longs to visit the whole year. The destination can change from year to year if your family’s activity is a family tradition. For example, if you like hiking, you might want to go a different place each year to practice your sport in a different location. Another tradition could be trying new activities each year.

No matter where you go, the most important thing about family vacations is the fact that you are with your family and you are going somewhere with the purpose of enjoying your time with each other.

As an adult right now, when you go down memory lane and think about the vacations you had as a child, what exactly comes back to mind? Chances are that you do remember some interesting details about those beautiful places you visited and what you did then. But if you had a similar upbringing such as mine, the memories that would stand out for you would be the family time you spent together.

For me, there are quite a few vacations that really stood out during my childhood, one of them is visiting Disney World, and I still remember some intricate details on that one to date. Interestingly though, my fondest memories constitute the little things we participated in as we had our normal annual vacations, they were all quite unique and they remain etched in my memory.

My dad did take a lot of pride in inculcating lots of important values to his three daughters. He consistently found an obscure tourist site or a hidden gem hidden along a rarely trodden path. My dad really did have a knack of locating such sites and places.

Ignoring our frequent complaints about the sites and places we always frequented, my dad would gush with some infectious enthusiasm and display lots of excitement every time he would share with us these sightings. He was a true believer of the tenet that people should not just drive to places; they should be travelling instead.

A few years down the line as we grew older, the murmurs of displeasure did subside and something very interesting started to happen, we all started to appreciate the unique nature of our travels and even though we would complain once in a while, we did start to take in and enjoy the travelling experience our dad was exposing us to.

In the years that followed, this tradition became part and parcel of our lives; we use to yearn for those trips and were quite eager to be on the road, discovering new sites and places. When I turned eighteen, I remember me and my older sister left home for an entire week; we had a lot of fun discovering new places and were very proud of our achievement when we came back home. You should have seen the grin on our fathers face when we arrived back safely, with lots of interesting stories to tell. As a matter of fact, this particular trip was the beginning of the strong bond that I have with my sisters.

Now that I am also a parent, I have also taken on the same tradition. On all our road trips as a family, I and my husband have learned to figure out memorable and unique stopovers to make along the way. I personally prefer looking for different and unique things for the family to explore beforehand.

Over the years, I have also come to learn and appreciate that our travel plans are not cast in stone and we are always ready and willing to change our route plans so as to fully take in what the journey has to offer. Interestingly, as we try to get our way around we do at times bump into some gems along the way, such as those beautiful lampshades in Westfield, Massachusetts. My kids are still young and we are therefore still capable of trickling down our enthusiasm to them, making our trips quite enjoyable.

From experience, I know that as my children grow older, they will start complaining but I will keep our travels going as I am fully aware that I helping them build wonderful memories. I am also really lucky, anytime I get a mental block and unable to come up with a unique site to visit, I can always call on dad and get an idea!

I am a living example that those consistent and arguably small family traditions can form very strong and powerful memories that don’t fade away even with time. So the next time you are out on a trip, don’t constrain yourself to the fun and good times you will experience at your spot of choice; also take into consideration the memories you can get on your way to your destination.

So, what are some of the best ways of adding some fantastic memories to your journeys? These tips may come in handy;

Favorite games: Chances are that you will find every town or state has a pastime game that everyone enjoys, do some research and learn the game.

Visit the children’s Museum: children are always fascinated with new things, take them to the local museum so that they can learn about some local art, science and history.

Stroll to the water features: almost every city has a water feature, be it a waterfall, lake, river or a hot spring. Make sure you spend some time with them in such as set up.

For local Specialties: make a point of trying out the favorite foods of those who live around where you are visiting.

And for hikes, you will be surprised at how a leisurely walk down the main street can be quite interesting and eye opening.

Go to a playground nearby: children love playing, make a point of visiting one along the road and play with your kids.

You can also get one or two odd tourist attraction in a particular town or city, a quick Google search is all you need.

Finally, with cameras everywhere from phones to tablet cameras, you can also encourage your family to take lots of funny pictures of each other along the way.

Whatever it is you as a family decide to do, give it your all and be consistent. These traditions matter a lot and they go a long way in building strong family bonds which are anchored on lots of love and unity of purpose.
As a parent, I now know the importance of these traditions. I am glad I am helping my kids build their memories. Thanks Dad for that vital lesson.

Your challenge this summer is to try and work on some of the ideas listed above and do all that it takes to come back home with lots of beautiful memories.

I know for one thing that my family and I always travel to Naples, Florida every year. We have a home in the community of DeLaSol where we spend every winter with our kids. The community is great as are the weather and the people. The kids love it and we love that it is a tradition we look forward to every year.