This is a guest post written by Jana from Daily Money Shot, a personal finance blog about money at the intersection of life, pop culture and everything in between.
I’m a huge advocate for family vacations. I don’t believe that a family vacation needs to be somewhere elegant or fancy. A simple camping trip is just fine (and often provides more fun and adventure than sitting on a beach. Just ask anyone in my family about the night of the rabid squirrel). Because no matter where the location or the accommodations, family vacations do these:
- They provide a chance to unwind as a family. Let’s face it. Day to day life is stressful. Between work, school, activities, doctor appointments, pets, bills and all of the other responsibilities we have, we’re all overextended. That overextension can sometimes provide unwanted or unnecessary friction in a family. Taking a vacation, even if just a few days, can give everyone a chance to relax and escape from those responsibilities. In my experience, those few days of relaxation have a pretty long lasting impact.
- They create lasting memories. Some of my most vivid memories are the crazy things that happened to me and my family while we were on vacations. In fact, my parents still like to use my affinity for It’s A Small World as a reminder of…well, I’m not exactly sure but they love to tell me how I tortured them at Disney World by making them go on the ride approximately 800 times. In a row. And it’s fun to relive the experiences via pictures and stories. Because even 25 years down the road, some of the stories will still be funny (even the ones that weren’t funny at the time).
- They provide an opportunity to experience new things together. Often, as adults, we gear our vacations towards our interests. We think about the places we want to go, the sights we want to see, the food we want to eat. What’s nice about this is that we get to share those activities with our kids (who probably have some other agenda). On the other side of that, by planning a kid friendly vacation, we get to experience the trip from the kids’ point of view and participate in activities we never thought we would. Either way, we’re experiencing new things together.
- They provide an opportunity to teach kids about saving. Most people cannot afford to decide to go on vacation and just pay for it on the spot. Most of us need to decide where we want to go, figure out the approximate expense and start saving in advance. What better opportunity to teach our kids the importance of saving for our wants? Saving for a vacation can even turn into a family event. Explain to your kids why you need to save the money and encourage them to participate. For instance, you can have them do extra chores and offer them the choice of keeping the money or putting it into the family vacation savings account (you can also offer to split the money for each). Whatever you choose, use it as a teachable moment.
Family vacations provide so much more than what’s listed above. They provide topics for family dinner conversations. They instill a sense of adventure. They provide a way to teach our kids about patience and how to read a calendar. But most importantly, the offer a way for a family to enjoy time together.
How do you feel about family vacations? Are they important to your budget?