The dictionary defines vacation as: a break, time off, recess, leave, leave of absence, furlough, sabbatical.
Unfortunately far too many families do not experience this reality and even less leverage vacation as a part of family growth and discipleship. Personally, I separate vacation and break. There is only so much time you can strategically invest in your kids, for me family vacations are key times to do just that. Therefore my primary goal on family vacation is not rest it is family. This does not mean rest is not important, over the course of the year we implement strategic "breaks" to ensure personal and family health. I have even been known to take a nap or two on vacation.
Here are 4 practical ways to not waste your vacation:
1. Make Family Vacation A Priority
I can remember as a child getting a shark tooth necklace in Destin, FL. and catching trout in the mountains of Arkansas. These times are a cherished and vivid memory. It is not surprising how many adults can recall their family trips and vacation(s) when they were young.
Every family has different resources and circumstances that will impact where and what you do for family vacation. Nevertheless, families should be as proactive, creative and resourceful as possible to prioritize a family vacation. One of our family's most memorable vacations was a week stay in a farm house of a friend of a friend, 30 miles from civilization. It was cheap, memorable, and fun.
2. Prepare For Family Vacation Creatively.
The Dollar Tree is my best friend before family vacation. I can spend $40 and buy some of the craziest games, toys, and food you can imagine. My kids look forward to getting something crazy from Dollar Tree each afternoon/evening after family worship.
We always look for free parks and trails within driving distance wherever we go on family vacation. These are not only great opportunities to enjoy God's creation, but ways to enjoy time together without being locked into the phone, t.v., or computer. Make it fun!
For those with limited resources, there are always inexpensive or free activities to be found in most cities if you just spend some time on Google. Live within your means, but make every effort to do something fun and memorable, it only takes a little planning and research.
3. Record Family Vacation Faithfully.
I record every family vacation in my Evernote family vacation journal. Included are brief highlights, our family worship acrostic of the week, and some of our favorite pics. Thirty minutes maximum and I have a short record of a family memory. This has become a treasure for Joy and I to read and gift for us to pass down. You can read more here about the benefits of journaling and an example here of our last family vacation.
4. Leverage Family Vacation Intentionally.
Family vacations are a great time of discipleship. I am not talking about doing a study out of Leviticus, but leveraging the gospel as you manifest the rule and reign of Jesus on vacation. Each year I take a tradition from my father-in-law and create an acrostic for the week of family vacation. This year our word was G.R.A.C.E. Family worship is always a part of our vacation that my kids love. I give them a letter a night with a word for the day and a corresponding verse. After a 10-15 minute time together, we load up on Dollar Tree junk and play high/low for the day.
I was reminded this Spring about the impact you can have leveraging family vacation when I took my son and his friend with me to preach. During the drive they talked about vacations, my son out of no where began to talk about what he learned about praying at family vacation that previous summer. I listened in amazement. Our word for the week was A.C.T.S...Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. He remembered the first three, and I helped him out with Supplication:) I am always shocked at what my kids really remember.
Don't waste your vacation!