We just returned from our annual summer vacation a couple of weeks ago and it was nothing short of great…exhausting…fulfilling…tiring…all in the same vein. Vacationing with kids is no joke, and often times we come home feeling like we need a vacation from our vacation. But, it’s the best type of exhaustion. There are so many reasons, I am a huge believer in family vacations, and why I encourage you, to just book the trip…
I was recently at the pool, talking with someone whose kids are now grown and out of the house. She told me her biggest regret in life, is that they didn’t spend money on vacations. She said when they had the money, they would spend it on things that would last: a playset, something for the home, but vacations weren’t at the top of the list. Now, looking back, she wishes they had those memories.
Think about it, do you ever sit and reminisce about swinging your 3-year old on the swing set hours on end? Probably not. But you will sit and talk about the dead shark you found on the beach shore, the hidden talent your daughter has for finding sand dollars dollars in the ocean, or how your 3- year-old would take his shirt off, and say he would protect his sissy from the alligators with his strong muscles. These memories will stay with us forever.
I recently read a quote,
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”
There is so much truth to this statement and one of those, I need to go back and remind myself of, frequently.
Sure, there is nothing I would love more than to replace the chocolate brown sofa that is throwing off the entire esthetic of our living room. And while I am determined to actually replace it this year, there are other things we have consciously chosen to spend our hard-earned dollars on, like vacations. Because these are fleeting moments, we will never get back. Because “experiences” not “stuff” is what I truly want to remember most.
If you have never read the book, “The 5 Love Languages,” I would encourage you to at least read the description of each love language. You will probably know what you are, immediately after reading through them. My love language is quality time. All is well in my world if I have quality time with my people. I don’t need gifts, I don’t need affirmation, I just need time. This is probably why I love vacation so much.
We have a rule on vacation, where we don’t talk about work, and quite frankly we try to escape reality as much as we can. I love putting away the distractions as much as possible, and giving each other our attention. Obviously, reality strikes sometimes and you have to do some things, check work, etc. but you see where I’m going with this.
What I Learned During This Year’s Summer Vacation
Each year, we make it a point to do one annual summer trip with the kids. We tried out Hilton Head last year and fell in love with it. It’s charming, really chill, the beaches are great, and it is a very doable drive for us. There is something peaceful about going somewhere familiar, so we decided to go back this year.
Last year’s trip to Hilton Head was absolutely perfect. We had great memories from the trip, and my biggest fear was that we wouldn’t have the same experience this time around. I mean, how could we truly top it?! But, what I found was that we created new memories that we weren’t able to do the year before, simply because the kids were a year older and able to do more.
Here are some things they wouldn’t do last year that they did this year…stay with me, I have a point to this…
- Bike riding: Hilton Head is a beach town, and everyone rents bikes for the week. Last year, the kids wanted nothing to do with the bikes, but this year, they loved them! We went for a bike ride almost every morning, and every evening. It was so much fun, and a new experience that we didn’t get to do much of last year.
- Nap on the go: Last year, I went back to the condo most days with Graham and put him down for a nap. I didn’t mind, as it was some good down time, but it did break up the day a bit. Graham doesn’t really nap anymore, so this year we didn’t have to worry about this. Although we laughed, because most days he would fall asleep randomly out of pure exhaustion! It became kind of hilarious.
- Let’s not jump in the waves, let’s dive into them: I was shocked how much the kids loved the beach last year, because they really hadn’t experienced it too much prior to our trip. But they took it to a new level this year. Brylee would go head first into the waves (she doesn’t get this from me, by any means)! But it was so fun to see how brave she was (and also a little nerve wracking at times)!
- Let’s stay up and play cards: Last year, we brought coloring books, crayons, crafty type activities. This year, we taught Brylee an actual card game and she caught onto it so quickly. So of course, each day, she wanted to play cards. I told my husband at one point, isn’t it weird that Brylee is old enough to play legit card games with us? But so fun!
I know you probably don’t care too much about how my kids have evolved (in detail) in the last year. But, I say all of this to say, each year brings on a new stage, and new dynamic. Don’t miss the moments and the memories! Even if the budget is tight, get creative! Go camping, or Priceline the hotel. There are so many ways to travel on a dime, seriously! Just be sure to make it a priority. And remember…
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”
If you are thinking about doing a beach trip to Hilton Head sometime, here are a few of my suggestions:
- Where to Stay: We love Palmetto Dunes. It is not too touristy and the beach is great! You are also right across the street from Shelter Cove which has fun shopping, a great park, and nightly activities and fireworks (check calendar for these event days/times)
- Vacation Rental: We have rented a condo on VRBO.com for 2 years now and have had a great experience each time
- Restaurants: Our favorite restaurants are – A Lowcountry Backyard, Hudson’s Seafood House, and Java Burrito *Restaurants during the summer months typically have long wait times. To avoid these, go to dinner as soon as the restaurant opens
- Activities: We love renting bikes, doing a morning dolphin boat tour, kayaking, Harbour Town, Lawton Stables, and mini-golfing. Once the kids get a little older, we want to try fishing and surfing lessons