I read an article recently where the author shares the best parenting advice she ever received was to “always take the trip.”
Here’s an excerpt from Annie Reneau’s article:
“My friend Kelly has three stellar kids who are a bit older than my own three. I consider her and her husband to be model parents, so one day I asked her for her best piece of parenting advice. I thought she’d say something about love or discipline or consistency, so her answer took me by surprise.
“Always take the trip,” she said. “When you question whether or not you should go on the vacation, just do it. Spend the money. Take the time. You only have a limited number of years together as a family before your kids get busy with lives of their own, and building memories and having new experiences together are things you’ll never regret.”
I took that advice to heart. And now, when I think back on my 16 years of parenting so far, the times we’ve traveled as a family stand out the most. It’s not just about “being on vacation,” but about the various positive ways travel affects us, both individually and as a family unit.”
Yess-ity, yes, yes, YES!
I never received this advice, but I have to agree with the thought process.
In large part, it’s why we decided to move to Ireland when given the opportunity.
For our family, travel means time for bonding and shared experiences. Travel means exposing all of us to cultures, experiences and ways of life that we might not otherwise see in our day-to-day routines. Travel means broadening our world view and gaining understanding of how interconnected our world is. With travel comes empathy, resilience, flexibility, confidence and fun.
I don’t always equate travel with vacation – especially with young kids in tow. But, I think we’re reaching that point. I hope. HA!
Let’s talk reality though.
Travel might seem impossible for some given life stage, finances, circumstances, etc. We’re all adults here with real responsibilities and sometimes that sucks.
I remember just starting out in life and not having two nickels to our name. Or not having paid vacation time.
I remember being a kid and hardly ever taking a trip because someone had to milk the cow(s) and feed ALL the livestock and how do you find a house sitter to do that? I’m sure finances played a role too, but let me assure you, farm life is not for those with wanderlust in their souls.
It seems to me the SPIRIT of ‘always take the trip’ does not mean you have to spend your life savings and a year traveling the world. A big chunk of people don’t have money saved for even a small emergency, let alone a trip.
Here are some alternatives to spending thousands of dollars that I think help achieve or start you down the path of achieving what the spirit of “always take the trip” means. Mainly these alternatives are through the lens of cultural experiences, as that’s what we are currently most interested in with our two kids.
- Day trips to a place new to you – city, park, tourist attraction, etc.
- Hike and picnic in a park or national forest.
- Go to a festival or fair.
- Visit a museum. Many museums off free or reduced rates on special days during the summer. Reciprocity membership agreements between museums can be a fantastic way to save money too.
- Watch a travel show together to learn about different parts of the world.
- Go to the library and check out books on different countries.
- Practice charting routes on a map. Google Maps is great, but there’s something special about unfolding a paper map. How many different ways can you get to a dream destination? How long will it take? What can you see along the way?
- Spend a night or weekend camping. Or sleep under the stars in your backyard.
- If camping isn’t your thing, try house swapping for the weekend. Here are some tips on this practice by Rick Steves.
- Start learning a new language. Listening to music in a foreign language can be a fun way to learn too.
- Try cooking food from different regions of the world – maybe corresponding with those books you checked out from the library.
- Visit a church different from your own religion.
- Host a foreign exchange student.
- If you don’t normally take public transportation – try it! Try taking a bus or train and let your kids help figure out schedules and tickets.
- Spend an afternoon volunteering as a family. Volunteer Match is a site that helps you find volunteer opportunities tailored for particular age groups: kids, teens, etc.
- Start a family saving jar where you can put money aside for a trip.
Bottom line? Whether you are in staycation mode or vacation mode, you won’t regret the times you unplugged and spent time with your kids.
If you have more ideas to add to my list, please let me know! I’d be so happy to hear how you spend time with your kids in the spirit of “always take the trip.”
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