Our neighbors feign surprise when they see our vehicles in the garage. My best friend once asked me, “Why do you guys even have a house?”
Yes, it’s true. We travel. A lot.
As I write this, we are packing for a weekend in Upper Michigan even though I haven’t *quite* finished unpacking from our week-long vacation to New York. My girls think “On the Road Again” is our family anthem. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’d love to blame this travel bug phenomenon on my older sister, who did her student teaching in India and has since spent most of her adult life overseas. But truth be told, it goes back farther than that to our childhood summers when our parents loaded us all up in the big brown conversion van and set off on road trips to the Rocky Mountains, Niagara Falls and Washington, D.C. My siblings and I reminisce about those trips to this day.
That’s what I want for my family. I want them to tell their kids about swimming with dolphins in Jamaica, collecting sharks’ teeth on the beach in North Carolina … and the time raccoons got into our coolers when we were tenting in the Porcupine Mountains.
It’s more than just the memories. Research by the Student Youth and Travel Association indicates that family travel can help kids be more successful in school, have more cultural awareness and assert more independence and confidence. (Plus, they’ll have cool stuff to share at Show & Tell.)
Now I know that travel isn’t cheap; my husband and I have made deliberate lifestyle choices to accommodate our regular vacations. Our vehicles, phone plans and cable package are about as basic as you can get.
- Look for a VRBO rental with a kitchen so you can make many of your own meals.
- Consider off-peak vacations to avoid outrageous airfare and crowded destinations.
- Do your research to find free or inexpensive activities to offset those with a higher cost. One of our favorite days in Manhattan was spent just wandering around Central Park.
- Last, start them young. My girls are great in the car because we started taking them on long trips when they were just a few weeks old.
For more tips about surviving road trips, check out this previous post. But remember that you don’t have to travel far. We are blessed to live in a fantastic state rich in culture, history and natural beauty. Within an hour or so of Green Bay, we have at least a dozen state parks to explore, not to mention the Lake Michigan shoreline. (And ohhhh, don’t get me started on my newest obsession: Door County!)
Now is the perfect time to start banking your vacation days and putting aside pennies for your next family trip. After all, travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer.
What has been your most memorable family vacation? Tell us in the comments!