Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Vacations: Luxury or necessity?

I have fond memories of vacations from my childhood and early adulthood.  As a child, these vacations and short trips gave me a chance to experience new places and things and bond more with family and friends.  As a young adult and parent, vacations have provided me with opportunities to bond with family while escaping the every day responsibilities and stress.  It can be fun to have a day trip on the weekend to a nearby location.  Other times it is both a luxury and a necessity to have an extended vacation that requires more advanced planning. 

Vacations become more of a necessity when we are in high stress situations and need to rejuvenate.  Taking vacations can be very beneficial to both physical and mental health.  A vacation can give us that much needed break so that we can return to our work and families feeling as though we have just "recharged our batteries." 

Tips for a great vacation experience:

  1. Limit media usage on vacations - most of us have become overly dependent on technology to keep us in touch with the world around us.  However, vacations are meant to get away....and that means from technology as well.  Most of us need cell phones to stay in touch with loved ones in case of emergencies.  Notify family, friends, and coworkers that you will be on vacation and kindly request that they limit phone calls or texts to emergency situations only.  Consider leaving your laptop at home.  Ideally a vacation should not have time spent checking and returning emails, keeping up on Facebook or other things. 
  2. Experience new things - go to places you have never been, try new foods (you might like them), challenge your senses.  Maybe you have always wanted to go to a certain place, or do something specific like be treated to an all day pampering package at a day spa.
  3. Strengthen bonds - spend some vacation time with family members that live farther away.  Inviting extended family members, such as grandparents or others, to come along on a family vacation can have several benefits for all.
  4. Plan ahead and research - if you have a particular destination in mind, spend time researching what is the most affordable options for travel or time of the year to go.  Become aware of any travel regulations for flights, foreign countries, etc.
  5. Take lots of pictures - have plenty of pics for your family and friends to enjoy long after the vacation is over. 
  6. Get plugged in - make sure to take all auto or wall plugs that will be used for phones, GPS devices, and other portable technology.  Also, don't forget batteries for the camera!
  7. Pack practically - plan for both typical and atypical weather for your destinations.  Depending upon your destination and time of the year, you may need items such as: sunblock, bug spray, snacks, children's favorite items like a stuffed animal or blanket, games, books, or other items to keep children and other family members more comfortable when traveling, make sure to thoroughly check all areas of your hotel room before leaving to make sure nothing gets left behind, and save room for bringing souvenirs back home. 
  8. Forget the guilt - we all need a break from time to time.  Having a vacation is great for our physical and mental health.  Fully enjoying a vacation will benefit not only ourselves, but those around us as well.
What are some family vacation destinations that you would like to travel to?  Sit down and make a list as a family and then research costs involved and better times of the year to travel to the various destinations.  Have fun on vacations, experiencing new things as a family.

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