As I write this, I am knee deep in preparations for an upcoming family trip. This is rather ironic because I haven’t traditionally been big on travelling. I enjoyed the trips I went on, but if the budget didn’t allow for a vacation in a particular year, I wasn’t that upset. Having an irrational fear of flying plus a rather frugal nature kept me more than content with local weekend camping trips.
Of course, having children can motivate us to do things we normally wouldn’t, so back in 2010, my husband and I decided to take our kids on a camping trip to Florida. We booked off 2 ½ weeks, loaded up the trailer and set off. In spite of the screaming in the bathroom at Epcot Center that I’m quite certain could be heard back in Ottawa, the trip went fine overall.
Oddly enough, the defining moment for that trip happened before we left. I was chatting with a mom in the locker room at my kids’ swimming lessons and she was saying how her family goes to Florida every year for 5 weeks in the early spring. As tricky as it was for them to be away for that long, they prioritized the trip because it helped them bond together as a family. Taking time away together really secured the heart strings of their children. Vacations didn’t have to be that long or expensive, but she really thought that it was important to set time aside every year – even if it was just camping a short distance away.
That conversation forever changed the way I see vacations. They are no longer an extra but an integral part of our life as a family. We set aside money from every pay so that when it’s time to book a trip, we can. Some years it means camping (aka cheap). Other years, it means getting on a plane (not so cheap). While I still have my irrational fear of flying, I’m trying desperately not to pass it along to my kids. So far, they haven’t noticed that I hold my breath during takeoff.
So, as I finish getting our house in order for our live-in house sitters, I’d like to challenge you to set aside time and money this year to bond with your family. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Borrow a tent and camp in your backyard if you have to. Your kids will be thrilled, and you may just be as well.
What was your favourite vacation?