We’re two thirds of the way through summer and this time of year always brings memories of family travels. At the start of these adventures our kids were still quite young, so everything was exciting – like looking at the largest ball of string, or stopping for an ice cream cone. As years progressed, their interests changed. Travel meant giving up the video games they normally played on their Nintendo.
In the old days we would sing silly camp songs like “Comin’ Round the Mountain,” “B-I-N-G-O Was His Name,” “Old McDonald Had a Farm,” and the like. Eventually those songs were no longer fun. Instead they were replaced with earphones and their own kind of music. I persisted in getting a song started, but never got much attention, especially when I began singing theme songs from TV shows.
During those years, in spite of each new distraction, we continued to enjoy the scenery. We would stop and look around, eat our lunch at a wayside, breathe in fresh air and talk to each other. All the stops were necessary because with two teenagers and one tween the air wasn’t always fresh. Not only that, but the car was beginning to fill with empty potato chip bags, orange and banana peelings and half devoured bottles of water. During those stops, we’d often stretch our legs and take a little walk to explore some of the beautiful countryside.
Family vacations can be disastrous or filled with laughter and fond memories. Our first camping experience in Yellowstone was one example. We set up the tent, got all of our food on the table, began cooking over an open fire, enjoyed the fresh air (again) and noticed signs which said, “Beware of bears in the area.” I have never been an adventurous soul, so the thought of having bears sleeping right next to our tent and possibly devouring our food and maybe us, was not an option. I believe I slept with my eyes and ears open. My children and husband sawed enough wood to keep our fire burning for days. Not referring to actual wood here.
The next morning we noticed signs of bear being in the area. The rubbed off fur on a tree right next to our tent was proof. I slept in the van for the rest of the trip.
Occasionally we’d treat ourselves to a night in a motel, with real beds and pillows, indoor plumbing and a continental breakfast. There was no wildlife in the vicinity, other than the partiers who stayed up all night making noise.
Making these excursions can be most rewarding. You have a captive audience for a few hundred miles at a time (usually) so you can actually talk to each other. Some of the most memorable conversations are held in a car where the passengers are locked into their seat belts and they can’t escape from a moving vehicle.
Think of the family vacation as a chance to build memories, to bond with your children, to make them look forward to the next one and find things to do that will appeal to everyone without breaking the bank.