Vacation planning time is upon us. Tis the season when families are cementing their summer plans and dreaming about visiting exotic locales. Growing up, our vacations always consisted of borrowing a friend’s condo at the beach for a week or traveling with my father on business to places like Dover, New Hampshire or Long Island, New York. We didn’t go far, but we always had fun. I’ll never forget the time we stayed at a motel outside of Williamsburg. I still remember thinking that it had to be the grandest hotel in the world with its strawberry shaped pool and vending machines right in our hallway. In my mind, it was truly a magical vacation that included stops in Colonial Williamsburg and the now extinct pottery factory, a must-see place for all travelers at the time.
When I was about nine, we traveled to New Hampshire where we toured the Budweiser Factory. What I remember most was the visit to the stables where the famed clydesdales lived. I can still picture one of those beautiful creatures as it leaned out of its stall to take a carrot from my little hand. Again, it was magical for that horse-loving girl from the DC suburbs. Another time, we spent a week at Bethany Beach with no plans other than to enjoy the sun and the surf. Of course, it rained all day, every day, all week. We played a lot of cards and went to the movies at least once. We left without suntans, but I think we had more fun on that trip than any other trip we ever took as a family.
Ken and I have tried to give our girls plenty of unforgettable vacations. We’ve done Disney, several times, and even took my parents there when our girls were very young. My father had no interest in going and complained non-stop leading up to the trip that he had managed to avoid that mousetrap his entire life and couldn’t understand why he had to go now. Of course, Dad will do anything for Mom, so he went. About two days into the trip, we were laughing at the girls as they danced along with the Lion King, wearing their matching Alice in Wonderland dresses that I had hand-sewn. My Dad turned to me with the biggest grin on his face and said, “You know, this really is the happiest place on earth.” I smiled back with the knowledge that it wasn’t Disney World that produced all of that happiness. It was all of us being there together. Yes, you know it: magical.
As we begin planning our summer vacation, it makes my heart soar that our three girls, two in high school and one about to graduate from college (next year, deep breaths…) still look forward to taking family trips together every year. We have been so very blessed to be able to take trips ranging from weekend camping trips, where we huddled in a tent in the pouring down rain, to trips to Europe. One of our favorite memories was spending the night in a covered wagon in DeSmet, South Dakota on the land that once belonged to Charles Ingalls and which Laura wrote about in Little Town on the Prairie.
We’ve all heard it said that you will never look back on life and wish you had spent more time at work, but most people look back and wish they had spent more time with their family. So I urge you, this summer, to make the time to take a vacation with your family. It doesn’t have to be grand and exotic; it can even be at home. It just has to be time that you spend together, playing, walking, exploring, learning. Don’t sit in the house and watch TV. Go out, find an adventure, and do it together. Whether you travel to a faraway land or to a museum an hour away, make it magical.
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – St. Augustine
Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her latest book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her next book, Whispering Vines, is now available for pre-order.
You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.
Crabbing With Granddad (2013)
A Place to Call Home (2014)
Picture Me (2015)