I discovered the joy of travel to far reaching destinations on my own by the time I turned 18. Jumping on a plane and heading off to Brazil, Europe or cruising the Caribbean, has turned into a life long passion my whole family now enjoys with me.
Family vacations have evolved over the years. There have never been more choices, more variety and more options available for family vacations as there is today. Especially since 9/11, the focus on family and community and played a strong role in our society. The travel industry has noticed and has geared up for families. From all-inclusive vacation packages and cruises, which are equipped with kids clubs and special activities; to resorts that supply a nanny for your stay, it's never been a better time for families to travel.
Still not sure? Here are just a few of the benefits of taking a family vacation:
1. The family that plays together, stays together..... It is a time to get away from it all. Away from work, the phone calls, the kid's activities, the daily to do list. This is a great opportunity to spend time as a family and get to know each other. Go for a hike, build a sandcastle, explore a museum. There is more time to talk and spend time together without the daily distractions.
2. Teach your children well.... Travel is an excellent learning tool for kids. They can have the opportunity to learn about things first hand they may have learned in school, read about or saw on TV. Any destination can offer this learning experience whether it is a few hours drive away from you home or in Europe. Family vacations will teach children about different cultures, food, history, geography, climate, environment and so much more. The best part is that it's way more fun for them then learning it through homework!
3. New experiences they will never forget..... Family vacations provide a whole new venue for experiences that your kids never would have had otherwise. We took a family cruise last winter, and it was my 9-year-old son's first cruise. We told him all about the ship and showed him pictures but I don't think he could quite grasp what it was really going to be like. We landed in Fort Lauderdale and as we were driving to the port, we could see our ship in the distance. He was excited but still very nonchalant. Once we got to the port and pulled up alongside the ship, he looked up and up and up at the enormous ship, his mouth dropped open and he gasped in amazement. That reaction was worth the price of the whole trip and is something I know our family will always remember.
4. Life is an adventure, especially on vacation.... Even if you are not particularly brave there are still many ways to experience the adventures that lie in every corner of our planet. It may be as simple as going to the zoo at your destination and seeing the animals that are local to that habitat or taking a jungle tour though the Amazon. There is so much to see and do, pick the adventures that appeal to your family and do them together.
5. You kids won't be kids forever.... Doesn't seem like yesterday that the teenager that just borrowed your car, was in diapers and day-care? Most parents agree that time seems to fly by quickly and those babies are grown before you know it. There will come a time that your children will have lives of their own and sad as it may seem, spending time with Mom and Dad will not be anywhere near the top of their list. Take the time for a family vacation while they still want your company.
6. Time to kick back and relax...... Now this part is important. One of the main reasons to take a vacation is to get some rest and recharge. It is important for everyone so don't over do it. Try and schedule an active day followed by a more relaxing day. It's hard to do in some destinations where there is so much to see and do like Disney World, but trust me. The kids will be less tired and cranky and it will give you a reason to come back to the destination again!
I know this all sounds so good, it makes you want to book that trip you've been putting off doesn't it? Well, I will add in a dose of reality here and include a few negatives. There are some natural stresses to travelling. Planes get delayed, kids get cranky, families can have too much of a good thing and get on each other's nerves. The list can go on, but don't let that discourage you, the advantages are too numerous to ignore.
So whether you choose to pack the kids in the car or fly to more exotic destinations, the benefits are the same. As far as memories go, we tend to remember the good things; the time spent together as a family, the new things that were discovered, the new friends we made, the places we saw. This is what your children will remember and, the fact that you were there with them to enjoy it.