Thursday, July 14, 2011

Vacational Merit

There are several different sorts of family vacations one can take, and each one brings a different flavor to the bonding experience.

The Beach: The beach has a high level of appeal just about all ages. Babies are happy to sit and eat sand, teenagers can try out some "yes this will probably almost kill you so when it doesn't you'll be super cool" sports, and a large amount of time will be devoted to just sitting around doing nothing. Some families are lucky and live only a short drive away from the beach, and a day or weekend trip isn't much of an ordeal (those lucky bastards). The rest of us living in land-locked states get to treat going to the beach just like any other big vacation involving either extended driving or planes and some lovely hotel rooms.

(WHY are there not baby-proofed hotel rooms?!? Seriously, I would pay a premium to spend a week in one that wasn't filled with knee high toddler finger smashing drawers and far to easy for a barely crawling baby to remove from the wall full length mirrors, and don't even get me started on the need for shoving those little plastic things into wall sockets and removing jumbles of cords from under the complimentary desk. Throw in a rentable basket of toys to check out from the front desk and a playground out back, and I might never leave.)

The Outdoors: I am separating this out from the beach (even though the beach is usually found outdoors) because the accompanying activities often involve a great deal more physical exertion and much less sunbathing while reading trashy novels. And you often stay in things like "tents" instead "comfortable indoors" during it. Things like rafting, backpacking, horseback riding, and mountain climbing fall into this category. Many of these activities can vary in intensity level from a few hours in an afternoon to several weeks of hell adventure. I tend to think people who try to do anything beyond an afternoon with young children in tow are just plan nuts, although my parents supposedly quite successfully went backpacking with me on several occasions when I was quite small by bribing me every step of the way with M&Ms. I do think doing a week of rafting with your teenager could be awesome (and hey, it'll get BOTH of you away from your smart phones), but that is also assuming you are not too old and decrepit during their teenage years an adventuresome sort of person.

Kristina has been bugging me to go camping for the last month, so I may brave 16 hours in a tent with them some place local (why, is that our backyard in the middle of the forest I see out my window?) to appease her yet this summer. We shall see how it goes. I do kinda want to have a campfire and teach her how to make s'mores, but then I start having visions of spending half the time keeping Adrianna out of it and the other half dodging flaming marshmallows that Kristina is waving around.

The Amusement Park: It comes in many varieties and it can last from an afternoon to a full week. But it nearly always involves lots of other people around and lots of walking. However, probably thanks to ingenious cultural integration and marketing by the company (and my natural inclination to craziness stupidity illogical hopefulness), I still keep dreaming of taking the girls on that perfect Disney vacation. You know, the one where they'd be excited to be there and enjoy all the unique quirks like meeting their beloved characters and riding all the cute rides and not spending much of the day in tears. Oh, and gleefully eating Mickey Mouse head shaped ice cream covered in chocolate on a stick, we gotta do that too (of course that would be an excellent addition to ANY vacation in my personal opinion).

The Tourist Destination: This vacation involves going someplace (usually old) and touring all around to see the various sites and unique cultural amusements in that particular region. It gives you a great freedom to pick and chose what you see to suite interests and age levels, and there is a nearly limitless amount of potential locations to go be a tourist at which can easily accommodate a wide range of budgets. However, it require extensive research prior to the trip and often comes with desires to do crazy things like try local dining establishments that might not come with french fries and an indoor playground, and may not be ideal with a herd of very young children along (although it could be an awesome family vacation if you took a nanny along to shepherd the children off to bed while you and your significant other got to enjoy the afore mentioned local dining experience and perhaps even a little local post dinner night life as well).

The Cruise: Ok, I have never been on a cruise, so I'm a little baffled by their appeal. The really fun looking ones appear to pretty much just consist of doing things any nice resort would offer, so why you would need to be on a large moving vessel on water is somewhat beyond me. (Side note: have I ever mentioned I'm not a huge fan of boats?) But I would love to hear any thoughts/experience others have in this matter, especially with young children along.

Did I miss any? Any good perks or demerits I failed to mention? Any awesome vacation horror stories to share? Lets discuss!


  1. I was tickled to go on a cruise (however without the child in tow!) I'd been in the Navy for 8 years, so any time on a non-gray ship was heaven to me!

    I don't know what they had for the little kids, but for the older ones (tweens & up) they had their own area and a personal nightclub (!!!!!) and we got hit up a couple times by kids on a scavenger hunt (me for my tattoos and the hubby for being a dork for having a watch on)

    And they always have family-friendly excursions in port. Oh - and they have motion sickness patches, too.

  2. I've been on a couple of cruises. I accidentally lost my little brother on one while brushing my teeth, and he ended up one deck up but was taken to the lost-and-found by some kind soul.

    The cruises had special "clubs" with activities and play areas for each age group (as far as I could tell), and parents could drop their kids off to be entertained for a few hours. Also, the kids can only get so lost (until you get to port).

    Nice adult things about cruises: 24-hour buffets, lots of shows, dancing, gambling, spa-type stuff. And the waiters in the dining room doubled as entertainers, at least for a couple of nights.

  3. I agree with both ladies. Josh and I had a blast on our cruise. There were areas to drop kids off (divided by age level) and then Adult Only decks to enjoy your kid free time! Cruising is fun. (But try to get a handicapped room if you can ... totally worth it!!)