Monday, December 9, 2013

9:03 PM
As many things did, how and when we took vacations has changed since having children. Gone (for the moment) are the spontaneous, off season adventure trips to far flung places - a new destination every time. In their place is the family vacation that is planned 6 months in advance, directly coincides with peak holiday times, and predictably returns us to a familiar place.

While not one for the adventure travelogues, this kind of winter destination vacation has its particular advantages:

1. We develop a sense of place. Going back to the same place year after year, especially the more rustic and laid-back locations we are drawn to, brings with it a sense of nostalgia for simpler pleasures and simpler times.  The photographs show shapshots of our development over time, while the background scene stays largely the same.  This now familiar place becomes the home away from home, but the one where you bike everywhere in your bathing suit or ski out the front door, rather than fight traffic to start the daily grind. This is the place of decadent memories, first kisses, and explorations into independence.  This is the place of temporal, but intense friendships and glimpses into lives lived far apart from our own.  This is the place that your mind will turn to when you think about your childhood.  This is the place of legend.

2. We can optimize the time spent in vacation mode. Knowing the drill - where to shop, stay, eat and play - greatly reduces the amount of stress that you have to deal with in planning, executing and experiencing your vacation. Given that we Americans are terrible at even getting around to taking our paltry vacations, we might as well strive to maximize the amount of time we actually get to spend in vacation mode, and minimize the amount of time spent in uncertainty, getting lost and shlepping the kids around. Going to a known place allows that to happen.

3. We gotta take time off anyway. It's currently dark and freezing and our kids are out of school. Might as well go somewhere nice. And warm.

This is What Zero Time Spent at the Mall Bought Me
4. Experiences are the greatest gifts. In my family we have made the deliberate decision to move beyond
the "gifts" that so dominate this holiday season. We have a small tree and the children write brief letters to Santa, but we choose to spend our money and energy on the experience of being together as opposed to buying a bunch of stuff we don't need. As a result, we are remarkably chilled out during the holiday "madness" that seems to consume most around us and have very little associated family or other drama to contend with.

As an example, this will be the third year in a row that we have spent two weeks over Christmas vacation in Kauai. We alternate between doing little and nothing and enjoying every minute of it. We get in a little exercise, a lot of beach time, some reading, and a lot of being together. We BBQ every night, eat shaved ice every afternoon, wear next to nothing and embrace island living for two lazy weeks. Occasionally we get in the car to check out a different beach, do a hike or otherwise explore the small island. But mostly we don't. Christmas becomes two weeks of family awesome-togetherness instead of one morning of consumer-driven craziness.

This works for us, and right now the kids are small enough that they really don't know any different (better?).  Perhaps when they are old enough to realize what they are "missing out on" we will get some push back.  But by then perhaps they too will need an escape from the madness and will be keen on further creating their own place of legend.

Happy Holidays! And I encourage you to think outside the (gift)box.

Please contact me at,, or connect with me on Facebook.


Post a Comment