Adventures on Purpose: Why We Make Vacationing a
By Bonnie Anderson, Domestic Budget Goddess
Learn more about the value of choosing to have adventures on purpose.
A few years ago my husband had a conversation with a neighbor friend. They had 4 teenagers and confessed they had NEVER been on a family vacation. When I heard this I was surprised. As I have talked to other families, I realized that this is actually not all that uncommon.
While there are a lot of reasons not to go on a family vacation, such as lack of time, lack of money, or lack of ambition (stay tuned for my next article on how to budget for family vacations), I want to share with you why we choose to have adventures on purpose and the value we find in making it a priority for our family.
1. Vacationing: Tapping Into Core Values
As my parents taught me, vacationing in the early 90’s was just as important as it is now.
My husband and I both remember feeling like we were the luckiest kids in the world because our families went on vacations. We decided early on in our marriage that we would make vacations a priority. Family vacations are a way to get away from the daily routines that sometimes distract us from our ultimate goal: having a strong family.
When we vacation as a family we show our children that we are a family that tries new things, strives to create lasting traditions, and that we enjoy each other enough to spend hours on end in confined spaces. Family vacations pressurize face-to-face opportunities, creating more of them in a shorter time. These opportunities aren’t as frequent during our everyday busy lives when there are deadlines at stake.
We get to know each other on a different level as we encounter unique situations and solve problems together whether that be comforting the screaming toddler next to you, or finding a place to eat in the middle of nowhere. There will be fun times, but there will also be hard times that will need to be conquered. It builds a togetherness that can’t be achieved as easily when everyone is going different directions.
2. Creating Memories While Learning New Things
By far the things my kids tell others the most are what they remember from our family vacations. The anticipation of planning where we are going, what we are going to do, and then reliving it afterwards with others is almost as fun as being on the trip. It’s funny how we seem to only remember the funny moments and good feelings instead of the fighting and long drives.
The great thing about making these memories is the impact that comes when recalling information. As parents we can throw in a few educational stops and experiences and the chances of our kids remembering it all dramatically increases from associating it with the trip. Consider a vacation as an interactive history book or an educational fieldtrip on steroids. I can’t think of anyone else I would rather see “the world’s tallest man” with or ride a steamboat up the Mississippi than my family, both when I was younger and now. Taking adventures together is exciting and it sticks in their little brains for a long time
I thought my brother was pretty tall until I saw this guy.
3. Making Resilient Kids (And Parents)
Imagine being strapped into a car seat, going backwards for hours on end, not knowing when the car will stop next or if you will ever get out. When we road trip as a family I look at my 1-year-old and wonder what she must be thinking. With no concept of time or place my kids trust that we will EVENTUALLY get to our destination and I will release them from bondage. But, in the meantime, they learn to sit still and I become an expert at turning around and throwing things down the center isle of the van.
Note: One day I am going to invent a conveyer belt that goes to the back seat and make millions.
Our two-year-old is still working on resiliency.
Vacationing has helped me to develop a level of patience that I didn’t know was possible. As a result, my kids have learned patience and that important skill transfers to the inside walls of our home (most days).
4. Flexibility Takes Practice
Like a lot of children, my kids like predictability. They like knowing what is happening next. If anything deviates from their expectation, they resist. However, when vacationing as a family they seem to expect the unexpected. For instance, someone might break his arm riding a Segway, and you might have to stop at the ER on your way to Maine. Of course that won’t ever happen. . .
They learn to just roll with things as we loosely follow a schedule or cancel a plan all together. They see how things still work out even though we “fly by the seat of our pants;” sometimes over and over again.
In fact, they’ve learned that when we are flexible on our vacations, we have the most fun. My kids are slowly learning that plans change, not just on family vacations. Most of the time it is out of our control, and sometimes it is by choice. But when plans change you have to learn to adjust. Unplanned stops are often the things your kids remember the most.
A book about the importance of play, leisure, and vacation. This a great read if you’re an analytical thinker. This book includes scientific evidence on the importance of vacationing.
5. Provide Service Opportunities
. This boat brought family, friends, and complete strangers together.
Along with being flexible, your kids will learn that service is crucial to having a good time. This includes not only serving others, such as holding the barf bag for your sister in the car, but also allowing yourself to be served.
Growing up my parents owned a really old ski boat. It was the boat that my dad used to ski behind when he was in high school. We used to take it to the lake with friends almost every Saturday in the summer during my childhood.
It was still running after we had our first child, and we decided to take the old boat camping in Flaming Gorge. I will save you all of the details of how it actually happened, but somehow our 4 TON boat ended up sitting in the middle of the steep cement boat ramp, out of the trailer, just 20 feet from the water.
It was like a scene out of a funny comic strip. I didn’t know that was even possible.
I can still hear the sound of scraping fiberglass on the cement as dozens of complete strangers lined up beach towels along the cement and dragged that heavy boat into the water (there really was no other option).
On that camping trip I was taught how willing people are to serve, even on vacation, and that sometimes we need to allow ourselves to be served. Family vacations are perfect opportunities for teaching service and love for not only family members, but also anyone we come in contact with along the way. It teaches our children to open their eyes and see who might need help.
Family vacations are adventures. They are exciting and fun, but they can also be a means to developing qualities that we want our family to exemplify. The added bonus is that these qualities often spill into other areas of our life. It’s these bonuses that that keep us creating adventures on purpose over and over again.
This is the first in a series of articles on budgeting your time, money, and ambition. We would love to hear your own family stories in the comments section below. Happy travels!
Bonnie loves finding a great deal that can get her closer to the next exciting adventure with her husband and 5 kids. Her degree in Family and Consumer Sciences has helped her to claim the title of the “domestic budget goddess” by neighbors and friends throughout Central Illinois and Northern Utah.