Enjoying the Journey
The European’s have long taken their “holiday,” but it is America that has institutionalized the family vacation. American’s spend an inordinate amount of money every year on elaborate trips and extravagant adventures. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, the great thing about vacation is not the place or the activity – it is the people we share it with.
We very intentionally set aside a few days each summer just for family. Sometimes it is on the road and sometimes at home. The goal is simple: to make memories together and to give undivided attention to those we love most.
Every family is different and everyone wants something different for their vacation. Here are a few principles that will help any family as they take this year’s family vacation:
- Plan it a year in advance and talk about it all year long. This was something that my pastor taught me to do many years ago. He pointed out to me that anticipation is 75% of the fun and, if you plan it right, the vacation can bring a great deal of joy to the entire family all year long. In tiring seasons it gives everyone something to look forward to. Include everyone in the plan and talk about it expectantly.
- Concentrate more on making memories than spending money. A vacation does not have to bankrupt the family to be memorable. We have learned that the stops along the way are often more fun than the destination! I have hilarious video of our kids recently turning cartwheels at a rest area park. (This will be used for blackmail at a later date.) It is often the detours and unexpected things that bring the most joy. The quality of a vacation is not how much money is spent but how much time is spent together.
- Don’t fuss. We often begin our trips with one rule: no complaining. I have had to learn that this goes for dads too. It is easy to allow little things to disrupt the spirit, and that is worse than disrupting the schedule.
- Worship and fellowship with God’s people. Many people go on vacation and never find a local church. Through the years some of our happiest times have been getting acquainted or re-acquainted with believers in other places. Don’t neglect God and then ask Him to bless your travels. Remember that a believer never takes a vacation from God. Christ is our life and every day belongs to Him – even when we are out of town! On vacation we all tend to follow a different schedule. Yet some priorities must not change.
- Don’t schedule every waking moment. This year we took an unusual trip as a family. Though we planned our general route, we made very few arrangements in advance. This is not my nature but it was tremendously refreshing. We told the kids that everyone gets to give input on where we go. Our goal was not to “get there as quickly as possible” but to stop wherever they wanted. It was one of the most enjoyable things we have ever done.
- Laugh…a lot. Life gets so serious. Even the youngest among us have heavy thoughts. Schedules are draining. Play a goofy game. Sing a crazy song. Tell jokes. Relax and enjoy the time with those you love. You may not pass this way again.
- Remember that vacation is not your life. Every day is not a holiday and every week cannot be lived like it is on vacation. (We couldn’t afford it!) Instead, use your vacation as a time to reflect on what is truly important in life. Realign your priorities and rejoice in the life God has given you. Determine to go home excited about the opportunity the Lord has given you every day.
Perhaps we Americans have made too much of our vacations, but we cannot make too much of time with our family. The great institution is not the family vacation; it is the family. The home is a God-ordained institution. Every investment made in it is a wise investment.