There's something easy about traveling with your nuclear family. No grandma, no grandpa, no aunts, uncles, no cousin twice removed. Just you and the kids. Easy in the sense that there's no expectations of how to behave. You're in your comfort zone because you share your life with these people day in, day out. They know you will order dessert at every meal on vacation. You know deep sea fishing isn't worth the money but totally worth it for the memories.
My oldest is 16 (I may have mentioned this a time or two), the youngest 11. By my calculations we have less than two years to make family vacations just about the four of us. No doubt young adulthood will bring along a type of collective bargaining that would put the teamsters to shame.
"I'll go if so-and-so can go. Oh, and he's broke. I told him it would be OK with you. Since he's going with us on vacay, I told him it'd be cool to crash at our house this summer on break. He needs a car to get to and from work. IF he finds a job. He's a vegan and allergic to cats. So yeah, I'll go on vacation if this can happen." (I know, I've let my imagination run wild on this one.)
My point is there is precious little time to make memories that will be shared among us four. We can share the stories of our travels, but those first-hand experiences belong to us. I intend to make the most of the years before they become adults. For now, vacation time with my family belongs to me. I'm very selfish. You can borrow sugar, my car, my computer, my favorite handbag, even my guest room. But not vacation time with my boys. Nope.
The four of us have taken several over the years. My husband and I have come to expect certain things about these adventures with our children.
Setting the bar low, keeps us from losing it when the kids complain. "Are we staying on the beach all day? This is boring."
No matter how many stops we make, someone will have to pee 15 minutes after pulling out of a service station.
Since the kids sleep or have headphones in for the majority of the trip to and from, my husband and I can talk about topics other than bills, cross country meets, college entrance exams, practice schedules.
Being disconnected from technology is essential for a successful day at the beach.
No matter how many bedrooms we have in our hotel or rental, all of us sleep in the same room.
At least one of us forgets a toothbrush. It's usually me.
We will pay too much for snacks.
We will eat too much.
One of our kids will shout, "SHARK" at the beach while everyone is in the water.
AND FINALLY, no matter how much we argue, spend or sunburn, we will still have a good time.
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