How Family Vacations Improve the Quality of Lives
Get out of your comfort zones and embrace the benefits of travel
Ask most people what comes to mind when they hear the word summer and you’ll likely hear a recurring response: vacation. No wonder that summer– associated with freedom and carefree fun– would align with vacation, also regarded as a period of pleasure, relaxation, and freedom from life’s demands and responsibilities. So why is it that we often return home from vacations with our families feeling simultaneously drained and on edge?
The reality for most families is that summer vacation is not always the picture perfect getaway that we imagined it to be. Vacation often feels simply like a relocation; no matter how beautiful (or expensive) the surroundings, the daily challenges of parenthood do not float away with those gentle ocean waves you were so excited to dip your toes in. At times, vacations can feel even more stressful than life at home– routines are thrown off, nap schedules may shift or be discarded, and personal space is constantly assaulted, all resulting in exhaustion and stress for everyone involved.
So why bother at all, right? If vacations involve so much money and planning and often result in increased levels of stress and anxiety, why would anyone actively take them? Well, because despite this realistic, yet grim perspective of how summer trips can be, the benefits of family vacations actually far outweigh the downsides.
Watching caregivers adapt to unexpected situations, which happen frequently on family vacations, can be a helpful learning experience for children. Whether it’s a delay in transportation, trying a new food or altering plans in order to take part in a spontaneous opportunity, children will take note of how you respond. When
you demonstrate flexibility and resilience, it provides a positive role model for them, not just for resilience but for patience as well.
Young children have a natural wonder about the world, and it is arguably one of their most enchanting assets. The manner in which they perceive their environment is typically one of fascination, as their minds spin with innumerable questions that they assume you know the answers to. While this awe typically dampens with age, traveling to a new place often ignites a sense of curiosity, no matter one’s age.
Simply taking in new sights, smells and tastes can be enough to spark amazement, although you can further encourage curiosity about a family trip by talking often about your upcoming trip, reading online about places you’d like to go, renting relevant books from the library and watching movies or documentaries.
Traveling to new places often means witnessing cultures whose environment, physical appearance, customs, food, etc. look vastly different than your own. This is a privilege for your child to see, as it allows them to expand their world view.
Strengthens family bonds
While the aforementioned scenarios of fighting siblings and stressed-out parents can certainly result from being in constant contact with your family while on a trip, vacations are also incredibly special. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we often get lost in our to-do lists, our devices and our own mental chatter, and removing yourself with your family allows you the opportunity to take space from those distractions and focus on each other for a set (and finite) amount of time. For better or for worse, this space is where core memories are made. So, take that chance and take advantage of the (finite) time you have while they’re still young. Years from now, you’ll be glad that you did.