Family vacations might only come around once or twice a year. You want to create the kind of vacation experience that results in lasting memories for your children and yourself, and that doesn't happen when you merely cross items off your sightseeing list.
The strongest, happiest memories come from the moments in between. It's not the trip to the fair, but the time Dad spilled his cherry snow cone on his shirt. It's not the visit to Grandma's, but the cookies you ate picnic-style on the floor of the living room.
Vacation time with our families is rare and precious, so let's make the most of it.
Balance Work and Vacation
Maybe you're on vacation because you're able to work from anywhere. That's incredible, but make sure you still have a vacation. Read more about how to work on vacation so you don't miss the adventure--and your kids don't miss you.
Create a Tradition
Maybe it's a goofy group photo you take on the last day. Maybe it's a song you sing in the car on the way to the airport. Choose something simple you can do on every trip you take together.
Hire a Photographer
There was recently a viral Facebook post from a mom urging dads to take more photos (read more about that here). Whether you're a mom or a dad, if you're always the photographer, you never get to be in the pictures with your kids. Finding someone else to photograph your days together ensures that your grown-up children won't have to say, "I wish I had more photos of me with my parents."
To keep the cost down, do it for a couple of hours during the most photo-worthy activities (especially those where it might be hard for you to do the picture-taking, anyway, like if you all take a tennis lesson). Check with local high schools and universities whose photography students would appreciate a project and not charge nearly as much as a professional.
Try Something New
We almost always remember the first time we do something. Try snowboarding, take a horseback riding lesson, or go to a dinner theatre. Aim to get out of your comfort zone and do something new on every vacation.
Write It Down
We think we'll remember everything, but as the years go by, more and more of it fades away. Each evening, sit down with your family for 15 minutes and ask them what they most enjoyed about the day to create a journal of your trip. It doesn't take long, and reflecting on the day becomes a memorable activity in itself.
Make an effort to sneak in little lessons about the area you're visiting. Each place has a unique history, and the entire vacation will be more memorable if you know a bit about the location. This might mean visiting a local museum or historical site, or simply sharing some trivia as you eat breakfast.
Talk About It
In the weeks following your trip, make a habit of saying, "Remember that time on vacation when..." and laugh about it. It will help the memories stick, and it's great fun for everyone to relive the best moments of your family vacation.
Do you vacation with your family in the summer? What do you do to make it memorable?