When it comes to travel planning, my husband and I usually try to relax by a fireplace on a cold day in the winter, tablets in hand, opening our electronic calendars, and discussing open weeks for vacation and family events.
Our goals are to share what we want to do for our vacation time, what our vacation objectives are, and try to fit in as much as possible. We brainstormed for a bit. We vaguely look at prices and budgets.
Then, I usually go home to research and, in time, bring it all back to the table to discuss progress and planning. Finally, we book our travel time, and I begin dreaming of all the fun we’ll have as a family. Usually, it works.
Over time, we’ve tweaked our planning. As the kids got older, we learned to listen. Two years ago, on our road trip to our family vacation in Maine, we asked the kids to each make a list of ten things they wanted to do on our trip. As luck had it, most of their lists overlapped, and through the 10-day trip, we accomplished 9 of ten things on that trip. A success!
But on the way home, something unexpected happened. Our sons (ages seven and nine at the time) sat in the back of the minivan with a map, plotting out a future road trip. When we arrived home, they transferred their vacation ideas to a dry-erase USA map that hangs on their wall.
Unbeknownst to us, the boys had planned an elaborate trip, flying into Las Vegas, renting an RV that would take us to Carson City for a night, then travel East through Idaho and North to Montana for a few nights to explore.
The trip would then move South to Wyoming, with a visit to Old Faithful (which the kids learned about while reading). Next, we’d visit family and friends while exploring Colorado and finish the trip in Zion National Park before returning the RV to Las Vegas.
Their rationale for such a trip? Besides Nevada, no one in our immediate family has ever been to any of the mentioned states, and they wanted to change that.
In addition, many of these states had been mentioned in the Percy Jackson series, so they were also plotting stops along the way that matched with the explorations of the demigod. Carson City made a list because Big tells everyone he’s named for it, and we were traveling in an RV because Middle has always wanted to.
While they truly wanted to extend the trip and also travel to California, Oregon, and Washington, it was agreed that a vacation of six states was easier to plan than nine and that we could do the coastal range on another trip.
There’s a big part of me yearning to explore the itinerary the kids suggested, and my husband and I are smiling at the boys’ elaborate plans.
While the idea of an RV is a bit intimidating and, probably not as relaxing as we’d prefer this summer, we do see an adventure like the trip they’ve planned as one our family would enjoy.
As the kids have gotten older, they’ve held tight to the vacation dream. And, realistically, their adventure sounds ideal in about 2 years, with kids ages 7, 11, and 13.
Our travel planning is running late this year. We’re fortunate in that we’ve reserved several weeks of vacation time; we just need to have that sit-down meeting to figure out our plans. (Sad that we didn’t sit by the fireplace to plan this year… life took over, and it’s now June, and we’re still figuring this out.
Ack! The Type-A parent in me is trying very hard to go Type-B.) On the table are cruises, beaches, an Italian adventure, and/or trips along the east coast.
Meanwhile, we’re taking into account the boys’ wishes. They have big dreams; those dreams might tell us a few things about our kids and what will make our future vacations enjoyable.