Throughout my childhood, not a summer went by that there wasn't at least one vacation planned. I have no doubt, now that I'm a mom, that my mother spent weeks preparing for each adventure. There were swimsuits to be bought, suitcases to be packed, reservations to be made. Vacations didn't just happen.
Maybe my mom read articles like 5 Tips for Traveling With Kids, and did things like wrap a piece of masking tape around a crayon so it wouldn't roll off the tray table. I honestly don't remember.
What I do remember is laughter. A lot of it. Most of it unscripted, though some of it rather predictable.
There were the road trip traditions we could count on. Me having a Strawberry Shortcake doll -- even long after it was cool to -- for every member of the family to sniff when we drove by the miles of cattle at Harris Ranch. My mom having a brush (and lipstick) in hand whenever we turned off the I-5 onto the I-405, knowing our grandparents' house was finally within reach, and we wanted to look our best when we arrived.
There were the moments we couldn't have made up if we'd tried. Like the time we were driving out of the car rental place and told the inspector one of the seat belts was smoking. He replied, "Huh. That's strange," then sent us on our way. There was a casual drive by UC Irvine that turned into a drive on the main walkway. (Which may explain why a couple years later I was still too mortified to even apply there.)
There were the coming-of-age experiences that summer begs for. Like the time I spent a week ignoring every site my parents showed me in Boston because I was too busy trying to track down Joey McIntyre (my future husband and favorite member of New Kids on the Block). And who can forget the evening a family friend taught me how to drive (you know, around the parking lot while our parents were inside the restaurant celebrating my 13th birthday).
No doubt when my parents planned all these vacations, they had visions of the memories we'd be creating. And we did. But most of my memories are from the moments in between the perfectly coordinated events and tours. The moments that made us cringe, yell, and mostly laugh. The moments that made us look back on our time together as well spent.
So when it comes to family getaways this summer, I do have some advice. Go wherever the road (or walkway) may lead you, and look back in the rearview mirror with love and laughter.
What moments stand out in your mind from your childhood vacations?
Amy is a Shine Parenting Guru. In between filling her gas tank and packing snack bags for summer fun, she'll be sharing other laughable moments on her slice-of-life parenting blog, Using Our Words. (Which you can follow on Facebook, of course.)