Each year our family takes a summer vacation. Our vacations have included destinations anywhere from Yellowstone, the Black Hills, and the Hilton Head in the Carolinas, all the way to New York City, Los Angeles, Italy, and France. This is a tradition we started when our kids were young. It was important to us that they see and experience parts of the country and world that Lisa and I never had the opportunity to while growing up.
When we first started these annual trips, it was a true road trip where we would pack up the car and hit the road driving. Sometimes this meant driving up to 12-15 hours at a time. While daunting, it allowed us the time to simply enjoy various parts of the U.S. along the way to our destination. We would take along our cooler of goodies and enjoy roadside picnics to break up the drive. We’d sing songs, play games, watch movies, and just enjoy each other’s company.
This year was no different as we set out for our annual trip – this time heading East to New York City and Washington D.C. We had 7 days of simply being tourists and taking it all in. We enjoyed great food, people watching, a lot of walking, and exposing ourselves to things we hadn’t seen or experienced before. On our last day in D.C., we spent the morning and part of the afternoon visiting Arlington National Cemetery. We were able to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Kennedy’s grave, and walked past thousands of graves that belonged to soldiers who had passed in war or as civilians. This experience, out of everything we did on the entire trip, was the highlight for everyone. We were able to witness first hand, the numerous burials with caskets being paraded to their final resting place by a horse-drawn carriage and a 21-gun salute send-off. It was an entirely humbling experience for all of us as we thought about the lives lost and the freedom we have because of it. Tears were shed that morning not only out of sadness but of thanks as well. Thanks that we have been given the opportunities we have but also for being able to enjoy and experience life together as a family.
I’m sharing this with you for a few reasons. As many of you start your own families, or even if you already have young children, pick up this tradition of family vacations and enjoy the opportunity to create lifelong memories. Go on road trips, have those fun roadside picnics, and enjoy your time together. Go places where your kids can learn, explore, and be humbled. Try experiences beyond the typical theme parks. Instead, take your families places they can learn about other cultures and see the real world. Don’t put it off because the timing isn’t right, the kids are too young, or you can’t afford it. Start creating the memories of a lifetime now!