Thanks to Julie for this wonderful guest post about extended summer travel!
My kids and I do quite a bit of summer travel. We drive two hours away multiple times during the summer and stay for a week or two at a time. We’re rarely home for more than one to two weeks between trips. We stay with family. My husband joins us for a weekend or a long weekend sometimes.
Most people find this situation really strange. I’m not sure if it’s strange because we live in the Midwest and going away for the summer is just not something they have ever experienced (unlike people who live in eastern US cities and frequent Cape Cod, Martha’s vineyard, or the Jersey Shore). Or maybe they just can’t imagine spending that much time away from home and out of the normal routine.
But it’s been really important to me and my children. There is so much we’ve gained.
Summer travel pros
Lots of time with extended family—Since we don’t live close enough to see our extended family for dinner, we have to make at least a weekend of it. And by making it a week or even two, multiple times in the same summer, my kids really get to develop relationships with their grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles they wouldn’t otherwise have.
Small town life — We live in a city, and it’s just different than the small town where I grew up. They get to experience a 4th of July celebration where we can walk to both the parade and the fireworks. We all get a break from driving in traffic. There’s more open space, more orchards and farms to see and visit. There’s also a lake and beach 15 minutes away. And different parks, museums, library, and events for day or afternoon trips.
A break for me — I have a much larger support network with my family around. With little kids, it’s been a real blessing to be able to spend time with family who is happy to have us around. Motherhood is less lonely when we’re around family more.
Easy friends — My children are best friends with their cousin, who lives very close to their grandparents. It is the easy friendship of children who have known each other from birth and who see each other without having to set up play dates. And while it isn’t always conflict-free, it is different from conflicts with non-family friends.
Vacation without the vacation — It is a break from from being at home with the responsibilities , things I “should” be doing at my own house. I am still responsible for my children, of course, and daily stuff like food, laundry, etc. But it’s nice to be away from your home sometimes, and the projects that are always waiting to be done.
A compromise between living where I want and where my husband wants — I would love to live in the same town as my family. My husband grew up in the city where we currently live and wants to stay. So we compromise with our frequent visiting schedule.
I’ve gotten really good at packing — I talked to a friend recently who was very stressed about packing for a weekend trip with her 2 kids. I have been doing it for 6 years and have the packing routine down. It is good practice for when we are able to take bigger vacations with our kids.
And there’s a pool! — I know this one might sound silly. But I grew up swimming in that same pool and it’s one of my favorite childhood memories. It’s so different to experience a pool that isn’t available to the public and super crowded. It is a real luxury.
Julie writes about respectful parenting, learning with kids, and waiting for readiness at the blog Waiting for Fireflies