When my 4-year old son recently asked the question, “Is it time for vacation yet?” it was like music to my ears. This was the first time he showed a visible interest in going somewhere, well in advance of a trip. It’s difficult to talk him into leaving the house on the weekends … “stay home days,” as he likes to call them. “Sundays are pajama days,” he always says. And he means it. Something fantastic must be happening for him to willingly get dressed on a weekend day during the winter.
When I answered, “Not yet. Just 12 more weeks!” he groaned. I couldn’t believe it. I was practically jumping up and down with excitement – he was really ready to take a vacation! But we had to deal with his disappointment because it wasn’t happening now. So, we talked about the upcoming trip … the beach, who we were going to visit, what we were going to see … and then setting the expectation for the car ride. This is going to be a long car ride, I explained. “That’s okay,” he responded, sounding like a little adult. “I can watch movies and color.” I was beaming. He is one of “us,” I thought. A traveler!
My oldest daughter, 6, reached this point a long time ago. Actually, it wasn’t a defining moment for her as it was for my son. She has always just gone along with our trips, no big deal. It’s something we do, and she’s in and ready. He has been like that too, when it comes to leaving … but talking about it before-hand was more of a bother. He lives much more in the moment. So the anticipation of a trip, unprompted, was new. And so exciting for me.
My husband and I have always loved to travel together. We took road trips in college, and for the six years we were married before our oldest was born, we drove or flew wherever we could, as often as we could. Six weeks after she was born, we loaded up the car, baby gear and all, and took our first family road trip to New York. It was fantastic – so much better than we anticipated – the baby slept almost the whole time we drove. So when our son was 6 weeks old, we drove to Florida. We figured we might as well get him used to traveling too. And when our youngest arrived, we did the same thing. She was 5 weeks old and making her first trip to Florida (and Disney World … which I’ll save for a future topic).
Traveling is what we love to do. We know how to stretch our weekends out as long as possible, and our weeklong trips too. Every vacation moment counts. Because it’s vacation. Our escape from our routine. Our time to focus on each other and the great places we visit. Our down time. So hearing our son ask those magical words, “Is it time for vacation yet?” confirmed we have been doing it right … for us. Vacation means something great to the kids too, even at a young age. And the memories they have of our recent trips make them look forward to the next one. Me too.