It’s the last Sunday of my teenage kids’ Spring Break. We had just traveled around the world in one week. We had visited Beijing, Istanbul, and then Iceland. Now we were on a plane headed back to the U.S. Our bodies are in perpetual jet lag. We’re exhausted, but we can’t sleep. We’re also tired of being around each other for an entire week. Traveling can be a great way to relax and find yourself. But that probably assumes you aren’t doing something crazy like traveling around the world in a week! In the end, though, this trip will probably end up being one of the top memories my kids and I will remember for the rest of our lives.
Mix It Up
I’m divorced and so I only see my kids every other weekend, and alternating weeks during the summer. When I have my kids, it feels like I’m just a glorified chauffeur — driving my son to school and karate, and taking my daughter to see friends. (When will my 16-year-old finally get her driver’s license?!?)
Families have many obligations and get tied into a routine of going to work or school and then having errands and extracurricular events to go to. This can cause a great deal of stress and can start to impact your family negatively. Mixing it up can help break away from this daily routine and provide a quick release from the unhealthy distress you may feel. Traveling doesn’t even have to take up a week and if you are worried about your kids missing school or you missing work, plan a weekend getaway. I’m personally a big fan of camping.
Though vacation is supposed to be fun and relaxing, doesn’t mean it can’t be filled with life lessons. You have a chance to expose your children and yourself to new places, cultures, and experiences. Depending on where you travel to, new languages, foods, and environments can be discovered and your family can find new interest within them.
Another learning experience your family could be exposed to is handling conflicts that may occur during the trip. We had one particular situation in Istanbul. The temperature was in the 40s, and we hadn’t brought our winter coats. My daughter was freezing and miserable. At one point, we were visiting a mosque and the tour guide said my daughter (as a female) could just put her jacket hood on her head. She didn’t believe the guide, though, and went off to find one of the scarves that other foreign women were wearing. My son apparently went to look for his sister. I was following the tour guide. When I realized that I had lost my kids, I panicked. Just two days earlier in the Istanbul airport, we had been confronted by a group of Muslim men who were literally giving us hostile looks and laughing at us. Long story short, I found my kids and then had a confrontation about why they wandered off without telling me. The photos from this day include a miserable daughter and angry son. Not the best family memories. But the point is that we got through it and learned more about how to plan better and how to communicate with each other.
Even the best-planned vacations can hit bumps along the road. Flights may be delayed, tires may become flat, or the hotel may not have a room ready when you arrive. The way you handle the situation could be a great life lesson for children to watch and take on the problem-solving approaches taken during the trip.
Memories and Connections
There are many reasons to go on a family trip. Yours might be for a specific reason such as reconnecting or creating memories while you still can. Vacation is a great way to communicate and bond with each other. You can discover your family’s different interests and learn to enjoy them as well. Taking the time to cherish these experiences and activities can create memories that you can share later in life and can rekindle the connections made during the trip.
Start planning your family vacation now so you can start destressing and creating memories. No matter how long or where the trip is to, take the time to relax and connect.