I looked back on all our family vacations since we were married in 1984 and evaluated them with the peaceful quotient. Some have been so peaceful and refreshing. While others--well, let's just not go there.
Interestingly, it doesn't seem that busyness is a factor. Last year we went on a tour of Italy and every day was jam-packed with activities. We fell into bed each night exhausted. However, we laughed, we enjoyed one another, we were kind to each other, and everyone agreed it was a refreshing time.
As I pondered what makes a vacation peaceful, I came up with some factors that surprised me. In peaceful family vacations, we all had similar expectations and shared common goals. There might have been surprises (like arriving at a cabin where every single door was locked), but for the most part, we were all on the same page and everyone felt an ownership of the trip. Mike and I weren't just dragging the kids along.
Over the years, we've stayed with family, cabined in the mountains, condoed on the beach, toured a country where we didn't speak the language, and done the Disney thing. Some of those trips have been spent swimming in the hotel pool, playing games, or walking along the beach. Others have been spent at museums, art galleries, and cathedrals. Yet each different kind of vacation has the potential to be peaceful or not-so-peaceful
Here's what has helped create a peaceful vacation.
Planning ahead makes the trip go more smoothly. Mike and I would cover our trip in prayer.
We would also spend time discussing the trip, how much money we had to spend, and our own expectations for the trip. We included the children in our discussions, too. We came to agreement on what we wanted to do and how much money to spend.
Everyone got to share what mattered most to them and we tried very hard to make sure everyone had a part in the planning of the week.
This planning was helpful later on when people wanted to change plans or splurge on snacks. We just reminded them of the original plan. If we wanted to do something different, we had to drop something from the itinerary.
Set A Budget & Stick to It!
We have a large family and a small disposable income. In addition, we live debt-free. We vacation debt-free, so we have to save up for vacations.
For a while, my grandmother gave me a large check each year to buy Christmas presents for my family. Our gift from her was a vacation. We added it to our small vacation budget and were able to rent a condo on the beach for a week.
You see, much of our lives, we have had just enough to live on, so vacations meant scrimping and saving all year. We are very clear with our children about the vacation budget. They know going in that we can have one meal out, but otherwise we cook in our hotel room or condo. We sit down as a family and discuss how much money there is to spend. None of my children ever have a bad attitude about this because it's just the way things have always been.
If you are moving into vacationing debt-free after splurging for years, you will need to sit down with your family and have an honest talk about how you are changing the way you handle money on vacation. Envision everyone and get them on board.
Settle in After Arrival
Wherever we go, we try to settle in and unpack right away. Then we gather together and explore. This is fun for everyone. We might wander down to the pool or check out the lobby of the hotel. If we're visiting friends and family, we spend time visiting with them.
I have found that this is something my children love. They don't want to travel for hours and then have to dump their stuff and rush off to another destination. This gives us time to breathe and sets the tone for the rest of the week.
Balance Relaxing with Go, Go, Go
I enjoy a peaceful vacation of lounging around by the pool and walking along the beach in the evening. However, there are some family members who just want peace and quiet; while others want to have a week of adventure and excitement. We have to compromise and plan a week that works for the entire family. This often means alternating busy days with quiet ones. We might go sightseeing in Saint Augustine on Monday, hang out by the pool on Tuesday, and miniature golfing on Wednesday. Thursday is back at the pool.
Plan for the Afternoon Grumpies
Learning Never Takes a Vacation
just because you're on vacation, there is still plenty to learn. You can visit living museums, cathedrals, parks, gardens, art galleries, and museums.
Don't let learning stop on vacation, but don't make it a drudgery either. take advantage of teachable moments and educational places nearby.
Vacation the Healthy Way
Some vacations just lend themselves to staying active and exercising. Tours often involve a lot of walking and possibly climbing.
Don't let your vacation involved a lot of sitting around. Get up and go! Hike, swim, ride the waves, rent a paddle boat, ride a bike. Get your heart rate up every day.
Vacation is definitely a time to eat yummy foods, but make sure you aren't living on chips and candy. Try to start each day with a healthy breakfast and be sure to have healthy snacks, especially fruit on hand.
Exercising and eating as healthy as possible will go a long way in keeping attitudes positive. No one feels good when they are inactive for days on end and eating junk.
Secret of Staying Upbeat
I like to stay upbeat and positive, especially on vacation. So, is this possible? Yes! Here are some things that we do to keep things lighthearted and fun!
End each day by sharing everyone's favorite part of the day. Share any answers to prayer or opportunities to show God's love or share the Gospel.
Share photos from each other's phone or cameras.
Gratefulness is contagious and creates a joyful atmosphere that is pleasant and peaceful. That's what I want on family vacations.
Laugh and love on each other. It's a great time each evening for parents to remind children how much they love them and how much fun they are having hanging out with their children.
Travel the World Resources
if you like to travel, we have a series for you. Learning all about God's World and geography with the Travel God's World series.
Travel God's World Geography is a one-year unit study curriculum, a consumable worktext. With crafts, projects, living books, missionary stories, maps, games, and movie suggestions, students will learn all about nations, continents, landforms, religion, businesses, transportation. It's an exciting year traveling from continent to continent and getting our passports stamped.
Purchase Travel God's World Geography at Amazon. Purchase E-books at PayHip and TeachersPayTeachers. Learn more about Travel God's World Geography here.
Travel God's World Cookbook ls filled with tasty recipes. Starting in North America, we will travel continent by continent around the world, stopping in 33 different countries to sample their cuisine.
All the recipes are easy to make so that the whole family can cook together!
Purchase Travel God's World Cookbook at Amazon. Purchase E-books at PayHip and TeachersPayTeachers. Learn more about Travel God's World Cookbook here.
Travel to London Unit Study, one of our premium unit studies, takes families to England to sight-see, learn history, learn geography, cook English dishes, crafts, write poetry, and read living books aloud. Purchase Travel to London Unit Study at Amazon or the E-book at PayHip and TeachersPayTeachers.
God bless you as you travel God's world on vacation or through Travel God's World geography series.
Until next time, Happy Homeschooling!