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Family Vacation
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Some of the fondest memories from my childhood are family vacations. I can still hear the voices of my parents and siblings as we piled into the Plymouth and headed from the plains of Kansas to the Rockies.

There were the trips to California where I got to taste the salty waters of the Pacific Ocean. The waves were much bigger than my four-year-old mind had imagined.

The trip through the desert without air conditioning or seat belts - I can feel, even now, the hot wind pouring in the car windows while we sucked on ice cubes to keep cool. Uncomfortable as it was, it is one of my favorite memories because our family was on an adventure together!

When Mark and I had our children, I couldn’t wait to take our first family vacation. We went to Colorado, and it was just as wonderful being on the parent end of the adventure as it was being the child.

No doubt about it, family vacations are magic. But families don’t have to go to the Magic Kingdom to make it special.

What is it that really makes family vacations memorable? It’s being together, of course. And doing things that you don’t do every other day. It’s an adventure together. Consider some of the following adventures if your budget is not allowing the TV commercial variety.

Inexpensive Adventures

1. Check out the nearest city area. Is there an IMAX theater that is showing something educational? Our family watched a wonderful IMAX presentation of the life of Mark Twain.  What other "attractions" does the city offer?  Museums? Zoos? Some of them may even be free. Plan to have your picnic lunch in one of the parks. It’s cheaper than fast food. 

2. If you have camping tents, break them out and use them. If not, could you borrow some from friends? The kids may think this is a bit lame, but stick with it. It’s amazing how much good will can be created over a few roasted marshmallows. If that fails, break out the Hershey’s and make S’mores.

3. If the budget allows, go to a restaurant that you have never gone to as a family. If the budget does not allow for that, have a family potluck dinner at home with each family member preparing his/her own dish. To make the adventure even more interesting, have everyone choose a dish to make that is from a place they would like to go on a vacation in the future. For example, a trip to Mexico might include enchiladas! Or a trip to the grandparents house might include Grandma’s famous homemade rolls…using her own recipe, of course. No phones, earphones, or TV are allowed during potluck or preparation.

4. Be sure to pick up some postcards at your local drug store or museum and send them! Think how much fun it will be for the grandparents and other special people to receive postcards from your creative family vacation. Also, be sure to take lots of photos and video coverage of your adventure. This is one family vacation you will not want missing from your photo album, and likely, photos that will be pulled out often throughout the years!

Being a family is a blessing. Spending time together is a choice. It is unnecessary to waste precious memory-making time together waiting for vacation funds to accumulate. Be together, and be rich!

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By Gwen Scott Simmons. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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