Thursday, July 24, 2014

On taking kids on vacation

When I was growing up - my parents took my brother and I on vacation every summer.  We traveled most of the United States during various summers - sometimes being gone 3 weeks at a time.  I was lucky because my parents were teachers, so we had a lot of freedom to travel when the weather was nice.

As a child, I never full appreciated how lucky I was that I got to travel like this.  We have been to New York City for Broadway shows more times than I can count.  We traveled by car across the United States and back (give my dad a map and a van, and that man can take you anywhere).  We visited the beach.  We visited New England.  We went to Canada to see the falls.  We took two Carnival Cruises and went to the Bahamas.

My parents found it very important that we get out of our small town and see as much as we could.  Granted, we didn't start taking more "historical trips" until I was around 10, but we always went somewhere.   The country is so big, each area very different and with its own unique treasures.  We weren't wealthy, by any stretch of the means, but my parents sacrificed other things so that my brother and I could do what they felt was more important than say.....expensive jewelry or a fancy car.

So it is no surprise that I (and Mat as well) felt it important to get the kids out to see more than the towns we were living in.  Mat and I have lived in 6 states - so we have had the pleasure to meet people from different parts of the country.  Pennsylvania, Maryland, California, Florida, Connecticut, Massachusetts - the people from all of these states are all so different.  We have our favorites......and our least favorites.  But we would have never known if we hadn't experienced it.

Mat and I traveled across the country when we moved to California.  It was one of the best trips we ever took.  (even though Mat accidentally deleted all the photos I took).  When Arlington was born - our travel didn't stop.  We flew her to Pennsylvania several times to visit family.  We took her on a trip up the coast of California before we moved away making it all the way to San Francisco and back.  And then, before she was even two years old - we drove back across the country to our new home in Florida - stopping every 3-4 hours in a new town, and experiencing a new site.  (we even took her to Arlington, Texas - her name sake).

After Finley and Cainan came along, we didn't travel as much.  We did fly back and forth to Pennsylvania, and hit up Disneyworld 3-4 times a year, but with two kids in diapers, I wasn't as eager to go far from home.  BUT - before Finley and Cainan were 2, we found out we were moving to Connecticut, so we decided to brave a car trip vacation to make the move.  We took two weeks up the coast, and we had a blast.  The kids did great, and Arlington - now old enough to really understand some of the things we were seeing - was eager to learn everything.

Now that they are older, trips are more in the front of our mind.  They are old enough to dress, bathe, eat all alone.  Last year we tried our first historical trip and took them to Philadelphia.  It went really well, and the kids soaked up the history and enjoyed asking questions.  I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to engage them in something I thought they might find "boring" or over their heads.  I didn't give them enough credit.

So this summer - with Finley's diminishing vision, we decided to take out the big guns and take them overseas.  We debated taking a trip here in the United States, but in the end - Paris one.  We were busy every minute of every day - lots of museums, old statues, history......and they took it all in.  I never once heard them complain that they were bored.  I never saw them not engaged in what the tour guide was saying.  Again - surprised by how much they learned.  Kids are little sponges.

Next summer we will tackle Washington DC.  And then maybe International again the following year.  As they get older, our trips around the country will be longer, and probably by car, like they were when I was a kid.  As they gain stamina, we will broaden what we see.

I am not saying you have to take long trips, or expensive trips.  It starts by leaving your little bubble.  Taking them to the big city near where you live.  Take them to a play, or a musical.  Or take them to a museum - many around the country are free for children, so if in 1 hour they are touching the painting and setting off the alarms - you can leave without the guilt.

Drive to a nearby town and eat lunch there.  I can't think of one state that doesn't have something beautiful or interesting to see.  Go beyond the amusement parks, and the beach.  Go outside your comfort zone.

The world is big.  And time is short.  We know that as we look at what is happening to Finley.  You may feel like you have a lifetime to get there, or that this isn't the right time because.......whatever.

I want to give my kids what my parents gave to me.  I am grateful in a lot of ways that Mat's profession had us move around the country because I have friends from all over.

So start making that bucket list.  And take your family along for the ride.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful post you are so right!
I've been to Hawaii, California Washington state (relatives

Anonymous said...

Hawaii I don't have relatives
Minnesota, Washington Arizona I do :)
Disney land was fun I've been there 1 time
It's very good to travel

Take care!

Anonymous said...

I pray fhat The Lord lets Finley see more exciting places and so she can hang on to those sights in her mind and heart alike

What amazing world to live in it is!

Friend Shayls