You’ve survived spring break. Julie’s shared her valuable tips for figuring out summer camps. But what about summer vacation? You know, that priceless time wedged between camp experiences and steeped in family values and learning opportunities. The together-time where everyone is supposed to relax and all the photos include allof you caught in spontaneous play, smiles wide, lit by the soft glow of afternoon sun….
No, seriously. It can happen. But like any adventure or military operation, it takes a little planning, some courage, and field-tested survival tactics.
Strategy. How many missions have gone terribly awry because they lacked a clear strategy? Ask your favorite history buff someday. Luckily, for planning a family vacation, all you need to do is answer two questions:
What recharges you?
What recharges the other folks your traveling with?
Because that’s what vacation is all about, right? You can camp. You can hit the beach. You can fly across the world to take in sights on your bucket list. Or you can hang with relatives or friends. But whatever it is you decide to do with your time, wherever you decide to go, if it doesn’t recharge you and your family, then what’s the point?
This is one of those “simple” truths that took me ages to figure out. Growing up in a relatively blue-collar part of the U.S., people didn’t go anywhere fancy for family vacations. We drove a couple hours to stay with my grandparents for a week a couple of times a year. Sometimes we’d cross into New Hampshire to spend a long weekend with my Aunt’s family. Rare occasions took us into Boston. So when I had enough disposable income to visit exotic locales on my limited vacation time, I felt an imperative to pack Every. Single. Minute. Full. Of things to see, to try, to taste, to feel. I barely left time for sleeping. Just ask my husband, who after six days of a honeymoon spent racing from one activity to another, finally staged a silent lie-in when I woke him at 6 a.m. to get to our surfing lesson on Day 7. I was crushed by the experience lost. To this day, I don’t know how to surf, but I started to grasp a greater truth that day: vacation isn’t about ticking things off the to-do list. In fact, it’s supposed to be the opposite of ticking things off the to-do list.