Why do we take our kids on vacation? Well, that’s a loaded question, isn’t it?
Here in Arizona, most of us plan a family vacation during the summer so we can escape the intense (yet dry!) heat. Like many others around the country and the world, we head to an ocean beach so we can enjoy the sights, sounds, and experience we don’t get here at home.
But as moms, we often find ourselves doing all the daily things we do at home when we’re on vacation – just with different scenery. Traveling with kids, of any age, can be all kinds of exhausting.
Who else has found themselves sitting in a hotel room with a napping baby, while everyone else is out having fun? Or have had to ditch a lovely or exotic meal halfway through to quickly escort out a screaming toddler in the midst of a melt down? Or have found yourself ready to lose it because your teenager “just can’t deal with a museum right now” or won’t put down their phone to look up at an incredible landmark?
I know I’ve come back home from more than one family vacation and thought, “Wow, now I need a vacation from my vacation.”
But for every lost car seat, stuffed animal left in a rental car, and trip to the E.R. in a faraway city, there are family travel experiences that you will never forget – for good reasons.
There are the times when your kids forge connections with people they never would have met in your own city. It might be other kids from a different country, or some older folks who teach them a new skill like snorkeling or zip-lining.
There are times when you watch your child encounter a new animal with wonder and awe or see them become interested in marine mammal conservation because of a whale-watching trip.
There are times that they try a new food that they’ve never seen before and they end up loving it, or they experience a condition that makes them want to help people and makes them appreciate their home and daily conveniences much more.
If you’ve recently survived a summer trip with kids, or are thinking of planning a vacation soon, I highly recommend reading “A Gelato a Day: True Stories of Family Travel.” This travel anthology edited by family travel expert Claudia Laroye, is a wonderful collection of stories that remind us that even when things go wrong, our travels with our kids provide us with opportunities for deeper connection and lasting memories.
The title for the book comes from a phrase that Laroye conceived when she traveled to Europe with her young children for a five-week adventure. “The strategy behind a gelato a day keeps the tantrums away was simple. Offer a daily incentive of a favored treat on every day of a trip, to promote anticipation, happiness, and motivation to get through the day.”
I call that genius-level parenting.
She also reminds parents that “At its core, traveling with family is a case of planning for the best, and preparing for the worst. No matter how far away the destination or how long the journey, the keys to family travel success lie in planning and preparation. Liberally sprinkled with large doses of patience, resilience, and a sense of humor when and if it all goes to hell.”
Happy reading, safe travels, and I recommend the mint chip gelato.