Turn Summer Vacation Into More Than Just a Trip

Do you recall the exchange between a Dad, Mike Rossi, and the principal at his children’s school after Rossi pulled his children out of school to see him run in the Boston Marathon?

It was quite newsworthy because Rossi echoed so much of what we feel as parents today. He was notified by the principal that pulling his kids out would result in an unexcused absence for his children because they were vacationing. His response?

“While I appreciate your concern for our children’s education, I can promise you they learned as much in the five days we were in Boston as they would in an entire year in school,” Rossi wrote in his response, which he never actually sent. “Our children had a once-in-a-lifetime experience, one that can’t be duplicated in a classroom or read in a book.”

Seize the Day(s)
I couldn’t agree with this Dad more as we also have had once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that we refused to decline during the school year that have resulted in unexcused absences. The experiences we have given them have been incredible for our family and we live without regrets as long as we are doing it within moderation.

How do we capture these beautiful vacation memories we are creating for them though and make them memorable (and even worthy of an unexcused absence or two)? Here are some ways we have made vacations an interactive experience with our kids.

Let Them Be a Travel Agent
In lieu of holiday gifts, we give our kids a vacation that we take together as a family. It has been a great way to increase our time with them, making memories together and cutting down on the accumulation of useless stuff in our home.

We didn’t want to just give them an already planned vacation though, so we offered them a “Choose Your Own Adventure,” travel package that offered three trip ideas for them to choose from. On Christmas morning, they get to open the three travel packages and they get to make the choice about where we will be visiting. This makes it more than just a trip, but a real experience that I hope they will always remember.

Create a Travel Time Capsule
We have started creating time capsules with our kids to help capture their vacations and summer memories. At the beginning of the summer, I tell them to start thinking of small trinkets they can put inside of a small time capsule (we use large clear fillable ornaments). They use them to capture a few of their favorite memories from a trip or to remind them what their summer was all about. You can also have them jot down five of their favorite summer memories to stick inside to encourage them to build their writing skills.

Let Them Be the Photographers
Let them use their gadgets (or borrow yours) to have them capture their own vacation memories through photos. When you return from your trip, have them create and design a photo book of their vacation that they can share with their friends when they return to school.

If you want to really make this interactive, kick it old school with a large scrapbook and let them design and create their very own book of vacation memories. Some of my best summer memories still reside in my scrapbooks where I had a spot to store all my letters from friends, pictures of our vacations together and small mementos that made each trip so memorable.

Take a Risk & Make a Memory
Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to take a vacation risk. If we can learn anything from Mike Rossi’s story, it is that the memories you will create and the learning experiences you offer your child will far outweigh what they will learn sitting at a desk.

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