The expectation of vacation

As a parent, I want to give my kids the best life they can have. This subjective life is made up of outside and inside influences, magazine covers, Pinterest, Facebook fantasy, and comparisons to my own childhood. There are comparisons to friends, contemplation of what sounds tolerable to adults, and trying to get the most from a modest budget so that precious vacation days aren’t wasted — for the kids and the parents.

This fall break, our family thought long and hard about the perfect trip. We searched so long for the perfect vacation. We thought about Disney, the beach, staycations, camping, visiting relatives, Disney, the beach, Disney, and the beach. Here is what we found.

We found that our kids just wanted an adventure. They wanted to get out of the house and away from the norm. They wanted to do something together.

Keep this in mind — kids have no actual concept of money. They don’t yet understand how hard it is to uproot and trek a thousand miles to spend several thousand dollars only to get additional suggestions of alternate vacations on the way to the kid’s number one destination. Here is what kids think. Kids think normal hotel rooms are fancy because they can jump on the bed. Kids think free hot breakfasts are lavish because they can make their own waffle and then have a bowl of fruit loops. Kids think over chlorinated hotel pools are exotic. It doesn’t take much to impress a six year old.

My suggestion on determining a vacation is this — set a simple goal and find the best way to achieve it. What was our goal? Our goal was to get away from our house and spend one on one time with our kids — no iPads, no neighbors, no boredom. We wanted to do things with our kids. Our goal wasn’t to impress our friends, impress our family, impress our kids, or check off an exclusive destination. We just wanted undistracted time. It was that simple.

We ended up going to a city a few hours away that had some fun and adventurous things to do. We stayed at a chain hotel and ate our fair share of free waffles. We hiked. We walked miles around a quaint downtown. We ate local. We talked about our days. We watched movies together. We connected.

Don’t get me wrong — we still trek to the beach, we still go big. We still do Disney. My point is that every opportunity for vacation doesn’t have to be overpowered by the fear of not reaching greatness. Epic or nothing is a false narrative. You won’t let down your kids. This is the beauty of a minimalist lifestyle. Simple adventures can be great and rewarding.

Some of the fondest memories I’ll carry with me are walking hand in hand with my kids with no particular place go. No show to catch, no reservation to miss, and nothing to distract us. Just being present. I’d bet my kids feel the same way.

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