Okay, I need to be honest with you. My dream family vacation isn't Disney World (or Land). I grew up an hour away from D-Land in SoCal and never drank the Kool-Aid. I have lived an hour away from D-World in Tampa these past 8 years and haven't gone one time. Not once! I know, I know... This is appalling and I need to immediately repent for my gross indiscretion towards my 3 kids by robbing them of experiencing the "happiest place on earth."
I can continue to not sweat (literally) braving the long lines, encountering creepy grown men in halloween costumes (still my daughter's greatest fear in life), or losing my entire life's savings on ONE DAY of sort-of fun.
If Disney is how you and your family love to vacation, great (it just isn't our cup of tea)! But odds are, even if it is, you probably need some other options (because too much of a good thing makes it an awful thing, and I could see Disney easily falling into that category...I kid;).
After 10 years of vacationing trial and error, our family has learned a lot about what works and what doesn't so I thought I'd share a few thoughts to help you and your family as you continue to navigate how to vacation well.
Allow me to keep it simple and straightforward through these 5 steps:
- Figure out the purpose and overall aim behind the vacation. No need to overcomplicate this but ask the question "Why?" Is this vacation for rest, adventure, casual sight-seeing, crazy fast-paced fun, visiting family, etc...? It's hard to accomplish all of those things in one fail swoop so narrow the focus and lower the expectations.
- Understand that vacationing is an opportunity for normal life rhythms to be interrupted so that we can be reminded of God's glory. Breaking the cycle of normal rhythms and routines is always good (if even for a day or two). We can view vacationing as a way to Sabbath. The Sabbath Day wasn't necessarily about not working (although that was a bi-product). It was an opportunity to take a break from the norm in order to remember who is in charge of the universe and to behold God's glory and to be attentive to him.
- Figure out what your family enjoys doing the most together. So many of us fall into the trap of doing what everyone around us is doing. We think that if the masses love Disney or cruises or theme parks, that our families will likewise love those things. What is life-giving to YOUR family? Road trips, the beach, the mountains, theme parks, stay-cations, resorts, etc...? Figure this out and you've won 99% of the battle.
- Realize that vacationing well doesn't have to involve spending a ton of money. With current low gas prices, a road trip to a fun new destination (a few hours away from home) is a great option. Your family can find a great, cheap place to stay using sites like AirBNB. Typically there are a myriad of free things to do at any travel destination and you can use your family's normal monthly budget to pay for expenses on the trip (groceries, gas, eating out, entertainment etc.). Some of my family's greatest vacationing moments happened for example in the back yard of our Air BNB home over a game of Jenga, or in the car on a road trip, or on a porch swing in a cabin in the woods, or on a hike in the Rocky mountains, or over a game of corn hole on the beach. The best moments aren't necessarily the most expensive moments. They are the priceless moments that no money could ever buy.
- Realize that vacationing isn't necessarily about your comfort, conveniences, and desires. Our default is to glamorize vacations and place them in a tidy box with a nifty bow on top. We view them as self-serving opportunities. Honestly, vacations aren't about us. Heck, they aren't even for us. They are ABOUT God's glory and FOR our families and the more we understand this, the more we will begin to get the most out of them (and God is so gracious to give us moments of rest, solace, and convenience because He's good like that).
So much more could be said from the practical side of things, but in order for us to serve you and your particular needs, we need your feedback. Would you mind commenting below about things that you've learned over the years, as well as any questions you might have at this point. We would love to serve you by helping you navigate through your questions, thoughts, and concerns on how to redeem vacationing. Thanks!