Those two words can mean many, many things to different people. And with Spring Break upon us, you’re either bracing for or crazy excited about yours.
What was your most memorable family vacation?
There’s the National Lampoon’s version that is essentially the nightmare trip that only gets worse, or on a lesser scale, your parents only embarrass you half of the time in public, your whole family gets caught in some storm and has to sleep in an airport terminal overnight and/or the airline only loses your luggage versus the rest of the family’s. (Happened to you, too?) And you’d definitely need to recover from that kind of vacation you wish you never took.
Then there’s the other end of the spectrum when you have such an amazing time on your family vacation, so incredible, in fact, it’s like those commercials that feature that ridiculously happy family exploring amazing, faraway places — that you would usually totally dismiss as fiction and think, “yeah, right!” like it was an impossibility. I just came back from two weeks of the latter and I’m now a believer.
My ridiculously happy family about to explore Puerta Princessa’s Underground River
Credit: Felix Perez
My teenage, ungrateful, rebellious self could not allow such a moment, rarely looking forward to or enjoying that thing called a “family vacation,” unless one of my friends were in tow. My husband can relate: “I didn’t want a vacation with my family when I was kid, I wanted a vacation from my family.
I’m admitting to this now and asking for my parents’ forgiveness for all the times my teenage (and preteen) self ruined ours with endless complaining, scowling faces in photographs, and overall poor behavior. All of you kids (and adults) who have this same tendency to ruin family vacations, please don’t do it!
Again, Mom and Dad, so sorry for all those times. I totally get how important that time is now that I’m a parent. I’m so thrilled at the prospect of spending 24/7 with my daughter and husband, eagerly counting the days to the family vacation, how sh*tty would it be for my kid to act like a jerk during it? I’d be crushed.
The Senior-Citizen Selfie
I’m not going to brag to you about all the details of our recent family trip overseas to see even more family (100 plus at a reunion), because this lovely beach you see is just a small glimpse into what was an especially dream vacation care of my generous parents (thanks to all of you friends and family who made those discounted rates and cool adventures possible!). And you’ll just hate me if I shared more photos of glorious tropical sunsets as you look out the window at snow, rain, etc.
But to be honest, even if you took away ziplining over the China Sea (no toddler in tow, then!), the fancy meals someone else paid for, the whirlpool bathtub, private Shetland horse ride, etc. Take that all away, and I’d still be saying I had an amazing time, because the best part of the whole trip was because of that one thing: family.
Underwater Auntie-Niece Bonding
Credit: Felix Perez
Because it’s not every day you get to spend two weeks straight with people you love — immediate family and extended family and family friends included! (I believe it had been almost 15 years since my sisters, parents and I had gone on a family vacation before this trip.)
Much of our weeks are usually filled with loads of dirty dishes and laundry, stressful hours at work or in traffic, paying bills or pretending they don’t exist, trying to get our kids to sleep or to wake up for something, and people who don’t give a damn about you, along with those random strangers who go out of their way to help you.
Am I geeking out on family and clinging to my family vacation nirvana because now I’m a mother? Maybe. Is it because I’m older and realize how these moments can’t be taken for granted? Most likely. Or is it because I was so touched seeing the joy my daughter and niece brought to my parents’ faces when they all played together on the beach/in the hotel room/at the airport/at meals/in the mall while my sisters and I were in the distance. Hell, yeah.
So, yes, I’m suffering from the worst family vacation hangover. And there’s only one cure for it: plan the next one.
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