It’s that time of year again — seems like everyone on the block is packing up and heading out of town for some type of summer vacation. How about you? Are you and your family getting excited for a road trip, a first visit to Disneyworld, a camping adventure, or maybe even just spending some time with the grandparents in Colorado.
If you haven’t yet decided what to do with your family this summer, maybe it’s because you sense — somewhere deep down, underneath all the to-do lists, appointments to remember, and worries about whether or not Hayden passed his algebra exam — that a one-for-all, all-for-one getaway just isn’t the best idea. At least for this year.
We’re going to take a look at some of the pros and cons of family vacations, to help you decide what it is that you really, really want. (Too bad you couldn’t make it to the Spice Girls reunion tour, huh?)
The Advantages of Vacationing A La Famille
There are numerous reasons to pack everyone up and head ‘em out, not the least of which is giving everyone a change of pace from the daily doldrums — and give you a break from the whining for the Wi-Fi password!
First and foremost, taking the whole gang is fun! Whether you’ve still got toddlers learning, wide-eyed, about how the world works, or your teenagers are fairly sure they know everything there is to know about life — including how supremely uncool you are — these are times that you will never again experience.
It’s also pretty special to show your short people some of the attractions you may have visited as a child, or to carry on traditions that you started long ago. Disney is like that for many families, but so are trips to the zoo, the beach, the Grand Canyon, and a campground. Of course, part of the charm is staying in the same quaint roadside motels or stopping for breakfast at that old-fashioned diner with tabletop jukeboxes and killer pancakes.
You might not want to mention this part to those teenagers, especially if you’d have to interrupt their Minecraft to do so — but being on vacation together and sharing new experiences is one of the best ways to bond with your kids.
According to experts, not only does traveling together provide a great experience in the moment, but — if you will pardon the cliché — it truly does create memories that last a lifetime. What’s more, family vacations can even benefit growing children’s’ brain development!
On the Other Hand…
Of course, there are a few disadvantages to vacationing as a complete family unit, as well. And it’s absolutely OK to be honest about that and make other plans. It can be hard to make wonderful memories when you’re seething with resentment over having to clean up that beachside condo, or playing referee over whose turn it is to choose the fast-food pitstop.
1 It’s Expensive
Vacations can be expensive. Kids are by their very nature expensive. Put the two together, and you might end up spending way more than you expected to — or not being able to enjoy yourself because you’re worried about money. And it’s no fun to have to scrimp on vacation splurges like souvenir T-shirts or enjoyable restaurant meals.
If your travel budget isn’t unlimited, choose your family trips wisely. Does it really make sense to spend thousands of dollars on plane fare, hotel rooms, amusement or water park tickets, meals, and souvenirs if your child is only a toddler and won’t remember any of it? Maybe it’s a better idea to rent an RV. Even with all the amenities, including motorhome extended warranty insurance, this can be a cost-savings over other types of trips.
2. It Certainly Isn’t Romantic
No matter how big your family tent is, it’s not quite big enough if you’re hoping to enjoy any adult time while on vacay. (And we don’t just mean sex — we’re talking about eating as many s’mores as you want or maybe even watching a TV show that isn’t Doc McStuffins!)
You and beloved need time together — away from your darling offspring. It will strengthen your relationship, reset your personal clock. It will also put a few deposits in your own emotional bank, so that you’re better equipped to be an excellent parent upon your return.
3. It Isn’t Me Time, Either
Ever hear a friend complain about how she “needs a vacation after her vacation”? That’s what we’re talking about. The benefits of getting away from it all don’t always extend to Mom, especially if she’s in charge of micromanaging the whole thing.
Don’t even try to pretend that you haven’t indulged in the fantasy of just getting in the car and driving until you find — well, ideally, a quaint seaside town that boasts delicious, fresh-caught seafood, a winery or two, and more than its fair share of handsome, mysterious strangers. But the Hampton Inn in the next town over would probably do in a pinch.
Why not make your fantasy a reality? Call in your family to babysit or redeem a raincheck from your bestie for a long weekend while you either get your solitude on (protip: Make sure that Holiday Inn Express has an in-room jacuzzi) or maybe get away for a girls’ weekend.
Whatever you and your spouse decide, don’t feel guilty about it. If you do choose to go away for a tete-a-tete, or even by yourself, remember that there are plenty of family memories yet to be made. Taking the kids along? That’s got plenty of perks too.
Let us know what your dream vacation is in the comment section!