Full Question: Do you feel fairly regular family vacations were worth the cost? Why? How often did you go on family vacations and what were your most meaningful ones?
Summary: The people who answered this question were all very in favor of vacations but many talked a lot about cheap vacations like camping. What do you think?
Here are some of the things people mentioned that made vacations worth it:
Being together as a family without friends.
Enriching lives, learning more about the world.
Working through difficulties and still having fun.
Spending lots of time together in the car.
Great memories and the feeling that we can have fun as a family.
Brianne (and Spencer)
Our kids say every vacation was worth the effort -
Didn't have to be to Disney World, in fact when we went to Moab the year after Disney "IT was the the best vacation ever!"
The things that really were important were being together as a family without any distractions of friends - (siblings there for each other) and parents not worried about housework etc. Some trips were business trips, but having one parent at meetings during the day wasn't a problem. The traveling with games, songs, and making up our own songs was great bonding time for all. They all mentioned how memorable that was. I feel bad that cars have videos now - don't over use them.
Historical destinations when they were mid elementary or older - really gave them great background knowledge and experience that was meaningful later for school, church, and college.
Learning to love the outdoors and nature lasts a lifetime. Every kid should see the ocean at least once.
Reunions - or traveling to see family was always worthwhile. The trips we made to places they had served missions or worked, so they were the guide, meant alot to them.
Watching the family work thru problems (cars, reservations,and on and on), and yes, drama and stress - and still having fun in the end was also part of what made vacations really worthwhile.
If the fancy trips are scattered - they are all the more memorable. Just get away for family time - it could be in the backyard :)
Karen and Lance
Our family vacations were so good. We usually went camping instead of motels as we couldn't afford a motel. The national park camping was so cheap and when you have the right equipment, have fresh air and a good enough car it was plenty worth it. We mostly camped in established camp grounds. The equipment we had was inherited from our parents like the tent and Coleman stove and some pans. We had a stove, tent, utensils, pans to wash dishes or ourselves (when there were no showers), we made do with a lot of things we had rather than having to have a "shower every day" etc. We also tried to camp near the water so that we could wash off and clean up before going back to camp. Put the tent in the "morning sun and afternoon shade" and you're all set. We usually went each summer after school was dismissed for the season. We took hikes with the rangers and went to the Ranger Campfires. They don't have the same kind of campfires they used to have when our children were young. We sang songs, and had talent shows and things like that and then the Ranger would tell us about some fun things and hikes to do the next day and also discuss about animal danger and about the environment at the campground. Our children were able to make some friends in the campground and since we had a large family they could also just stay with their siblings. We didn't have trouble with getting them to go with us as they did have fun. When the older children had summer jobs they got to stay home and that didn't set very well as they wanted to go with us, but being teens they were okay with it after all.
We usually would go to the mountains or ocean. Yosemite National Park in California comes to mind, and Sequoia National Park, Honeyman State Park in Oregon on the coast, Utah's parks are good too, but don't have the amenities that the California parks have, such as bark on the ground to keep the dust down and nice showers and restrooms. Maybe things have changed in Utah, but that's what we noticed as our family was camping.
We know that prices have gone up since then and so may not be as economical as we found it, but we're sure a hotel/motel is still a lot more than a campground. Just know that you can always wash off the dust. If you are prepared there is a lot of fun in camping and it's so good to get home. Also, it takes as much equipment for a weekend as it does for two weeks, less the food, so make it fun.
Kenneth and Catherine
We did have regular family vacations and they provided great memories so they were definitely worth the cost. We enjoyed going to California to the beach and Disneyland etc. However the most memorable was when we did an American history and Church history tour of Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, upstate New York, Palmyra, Kirtland, Johnson Farm, etc. plus Dearborn, Michigan where we had lived and two of our children were born. That two weeks was most memorable!
Marianne and John
We both agreed that it was always hard to afford our few "big" vacations but now we're so glad we did them. Our biggest trip was flying back East and seeing the sights in DC, New York, etc. then on to the church historical sights and Niagara Falls. We had a daily food budget so every morning we would decide if we wanted fast food meals or a picnic brunch and dinner at a restaurant. The kids had to all agree and their orders had to stay within the budget. It made it more fun.
We were lucky to have a family cabin about two and a half hours away and went there several times a year. We also had grandparents in Southern California and visited many of the amusement parks and beaches during the stay. We visited a lot of our state's special attractions during spring break or 3-day week-ends.
These trips gave us a chance to get the kids away from their friends and individual activities and just focus on each other. We also had a large set of "Power Tales" cassette tapes that told stories about great historical figures and positve character traits they exemplified. We listened to them over and over through the years and reserved them for trips. We also sang, played road games and visited with each other. Priceless time and worth every penny and effort.
Barbara and Daniel
We usually had family vacations. We didn't want to go into debt and didn't have a lot of money, so our vacations were going somewhere we could camp out and fix our own meals. We had seven kids and a Ford Supercab truck. The young children were in the seat behind the main seat and the older kids were in the covered back bed which had all our stuff (camping and eating gear). No seat belt restrictions or car seats requirements were in force then. It was great, we had a wonderful time being together.
Our best trip was before our older children went off to school and work. We went to Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada. Along the way we saw many other parks, lakes, and glaciers. A highlight of the trip was going to the open house for the Cardston Temple. It rained a lot and we even had to stay in a motel one night. The kids remember these good times and take their children camping too, although they have better gear than we did. We still enjoy being together with family. It does get wild with 29 grandchildren, however, but we're thankful everyone wants to be together.
Jane (and Samuel)
We didn't have a lot of them however I love the idea....we did try to at least go camping and visit grandparents and cousins.
We did take one month long trip when our kids were mostly in High School. We always read in the car. Mom would read us a novel that kept us all paying attention. This was a tradition in her family too. Once they were reading Treasure Island and Grandpa drove right by our house he was so interested in the story. One of the best things about family vacations is the one on one time when one child gets to sit by the driver in the car and share stories. Another thing I love about family trips and vacations is the way younger siblings sometime become friends with the older kids because there is no one else for them to associate with.
We bought a waterskiing boat which afforded us afternoon mini-vacations. That provided the opportunity for the kids to learn a skill, hang out togehter and share a lot of time together in the summer.
Danielle and Jake
Never spend more than you can comfortable afford on a vacation.....We ALWAYS camped. Every single one was memorable and holds great memories for all of us. TONS of work for the parents. Tons of memories for everyone.
Marsha (and Richard)
I like to consider the principle associated with my experience. As parents, we spend a lot of our time teaching our children, which most often means “correcting” our children. We work hard to structure their lives around meaningful, positive activities which often requires structure and discipline. It’s important to balance this with healthy, meaningful but relaxing and fun time together when the goal is just to enjoy each other and often extended family.
For us, family vacations are very much worth it. There is definitely an expenditure of much needed funds and it takes a lot of extra work for the parents but the bonding that takes place is priceless. It’s important for families to have fun together. My husband is the one who instigated the vacations. I tended to be too practical and worried about the money, but now I am so very grateful.
We traveled to Utah for spring break most years. The trip in our 12-passenger van was an important part of the experience. We had the children all to ourselves and they only had each other. Since our family is large, they were used to interacting with family, but that traveling time brought them together, creating games, conversation, and occasionally I would read a fun book to them along the way. It’s important not to lose sight of this goal and ruin it by our own selfish interests and bad attitudes. It’s a process to learn the self mastery that makes these goals happen.
We kept the cost low by packing a cooler, which fit between the two seats in the front of the van. We could make peanut butter sandwiches and hand them out as we traveled or stopped at a park. We always stayed with relatives...good we had some, and we realize what a gift that was to us. We have done our best to make such trips available to others by opening up our homes. We bought food at grocery stores instead of restaurants and took advantage of the discounts on ski passes, etc. It wasn’t until the last children that we were ever able to stay in hotels or planned trips that didn’t include extended family.
When we asked about memorable Christmas’ our children’s most memorable was one Christmas break when we went to a friend’s cabin in the Utah canyons. We traveled into the city for church and family activities and went skiing but also enjoyed the snow, sledding down the road right by the cabin. This was our Christmas that year.
Rachel (and Bennett)
We took some major family vacations: (1) we drove to Nauvoo, IL with our six kids in a suburban. We camped along the way, and every third day we would get a motel, so we could clean up. It was a lot of work, but the learning that took place, and the memories we made were worth the cost. This was a trip my husband and I wanted to take, and we just took the kids along! (2) Another major trip we took was to drive up to Vancouver, Canada to go to EXPO 86 (it was like a world fair). We stayed in motels every night on this trip, except in Vancouver, where we stayed with a couple who opened up their home to tourists coming to the EXPO. Our kids got pretty tired of driving, but they enjoyed the things they saw along the way, and at the EXPO. We played on the beach in Washington and Oregon, and that was fun, but chilly! Our children now wonder how we had the stamina to make such a trip. We were lucky to be gone about 3 weeks. Our oldest was just under 12, so basically, the children didn't know to complain much--they just came along. Again, we have wonderful memories, and great pictures to help us remember. However, our younger children do not remember much at all. So in many ways, this was a trip for my husband and me, and our very oldest children. Our younger children feel slighted because we never did a major trip like that again. We did go to California a few times and spent time at the beach.
I think traveling is a wonderful learning experience for all. I would say it is worth the cost, even if you have to save a few years for such a trip. The memories, and pictures remain to strengthen the idea that family is important, and we can have fun as a family!
Mary (and Robert)
This is a tough question. As I look back, I don't think we spent much on family vacations. We would go with my husband when he had an out of town trip and stay in a hotel and see the sights locally. We all went to soccer tournaments together and did a little fun vacationing in between and after game times. But to plan and spend money on a trip just wasn't our deal.
I love the fact that everyone participated in the soccer tournaments. They did a little complaining from time to time but they all cheered for the player in the family and then looked forward to the down time. We spent several Thanksgivings in odd locations because of soccer. We all remember the one in Disneyland with dinner at the Blue Bayou. We also recall fondly the times we spent at the Charleston, SC tournaments. When other parents went to have cocktails we ended up sitting in the hall playing games not only with our children but with other kids and siblings from the the teams so they wouldn't play kickball in the halls. It's one of my best memories if not our kids'.
We were especially excited to be in Charleston at non-soccer times. While my husband called on hospitals, we used the hotel facilities; swimming, game room, etc. The kids especially like the pedal carriages we used in Charleston. With the whole family in a couple of carriages, we toured the Battery in Charleston and saw other historic sights. There, you could enjoy looking at an old cemetery by an equally old church while Dad was pumping gas. We also enjoyed the beach, the bridges, and Fort Sumter. And the biggest expense was on the company.
We were consciencous about the hotels we booked. It had to be within the company's parameters in price, but it also needed to fulfill family needs. In Asheville, NC we stayed in a hotel that had not only a pool, but pool tables, ping pong, and miniature golf in the big room just outside our door. That and our ride through the Great Smokie Mountains and a visit to Dollywood when it was new and small, is a great memory.
I suppose our kids would say we didn't take many vacations and usually when we did it was to see someone at a specific destination. That always involved long hours in the car...a drive straight through. But our children learned to pack a suitcase on their own. They learned to order and behave politely in a restaurant. They are aware of proper etiquette in hotels and at hotel breakfast rooms. They know not to talk to employees in these venues and we always had a secret word that they knew would keep them safe from potential kidnappers.
One of the few real vacations we planned for our family was horrible. We were on a train that derailed and had to crowd into a sleeping car to get to a place that had a bus to finish the trip. We were evicted from my brother's empty apartment and had to find a cheap motel to stay in. And on top of everything it started to snow while we were getting on another train to go home. It remains one of the most memorable of my vacations. I suppose the kids remember it too.
Whether they were really vacations or business trips and soccer tournaments, we managed to have a lot of fun and we learned a lot. Random things are remembered and perceived differently by each family member. I don't know if we can really say how important family vacations are or if they are worth the expense, but I know that spending time together is the most important part of it. I notice now that our children do a better job of real official family vacations. I can't say for sure if this is a result of their spouse's experience or their own desire to do differently than we did. In any case, they spend time with their children and give them experiences that enrich their lives. I'm glad to see it but I don't regret our style of family vacation.
Next week's question: How did you emotionally/spiritually support your kids when they were in college?