Labor Day 2010 is now a fading memory and so is Summer Break 2010. School is in session for kids everywhere, and it is highly probable that one of their first assignments will be an essay or drawing titled, "What I Did On My Summer Vacation". I could have used that as the title for this post, but it seemed too cliche. Instead, I went with something very unique and original, just like the little person who uttered this silly sentence.
I view summer vacation as a must for every family with kids of any age. Whether it is a long weekend camping in a tent at a state park, visiting distant relatives, or globe-trotting to foreign lands with the kids, these experiences become the stories your children will tell friends, teachers, and eventually one day, their own children. Travel opens their eyes to new cultures, bizarre food, and the wonders of Mother Nature. Travel teaches children about flexibility, respect for others, and of course, the quirks of airport security. Travel expands their world beyond the comforts of home. Travel is a classroom.
Ever since I was a child, I have loved to travel. I remember donning my best dress to get on an airplane (I miss those days as I now see fellow travelers looking as if they just rolled out of bed). I remember feeling so mature and sophisticated when I received my first set of matching luggage at the age of thirteen (a 3 piece navy and maroon Samsonite set). I have so many memories of all those trips I took as a kid. I still love to travel and I enjoy it more when I can share it with my own kids.
Seeing that we have family and friends spread from coast to coast, we travel every chance we can - Spring Break, Fall Break, Winter Break, and of course, the requisite Summer Vacation. (At this moment, Vacation by The Go-Go's is taking me back to 1982 in my mind.) This summer, my children, husband, and I went for a 2-week-long adventure in California. With family in SoCal, Los Angeles was a perfect starting point for our coastal drive to the north. We took our time to take in the sites along the way. We trekked through several coastal towns like Santa Barbara, where after visiting there, I decided that the UCSB students are the luckiest (or perhaps the most spoiled) coeds in the world. We toured the over-the-top luxurious Hearst Castle and imagined what life must have been like in its heyday. In sharp contrast, we visited Alcatraz and imagined what life must have been like there too. We spent five days climbing the alpine-like streets of San Francisco, and I think each one of us left a little piece of our hearts there. We strolled famous beaches - Pismo, Pebble, and Piedras Blancas - where we watched elephant seals spar, surfers dance on the waves and miniature crabs scurry as the tide rolled out. We explored the groves of giant Redwoods in Muir Woods, in awe of all the natural beauty. Outside of the unseasonably chilly temperatures and a little carsickness, it was the best vacation we have had to date, in thanks to my family for their "go with the flow" attitude and and zeal for spontaneity. However, with all the fabulous and and famous places we visited, my favorite memory was hearing my 8 year old son so astutely say "My toes look like cinnamon donuts" as we were leaving the beach in search of the foot shower in Pismo. This image still makes me smile.
Every family has to make their own memories and adventure in the world. I just share mine with you to stress the importance a family vacation. Time away from the everyday routine of work, school, sports, and housework is needed by everyone in the family. Vacations bond a family with the shared experiences, inside jokes, and of course, the 704 photos that are taken along the way. When you really think about it...we have 18 years to hold onto our children before sending them out on their own, which means we have 18 summer vacations. However, you have to exclude the first few years, because the kids won't remember a thing. Also you have to exclude the time from 14 to 18 years of age because they think you don't know anything and would rather text or Facebook than explore the world with their parents. Despite all of this, take a family vacation every year, and in those middle ten or so years, savor them and create memories that will last a lifetime, and perhaps into the next generation too. Safe travels to you!
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