Last week I was snuggling with Andrew in our hammock at Camp Noyo looking up at the swaying Redwood trees over head. We started musing about how much we loved it there and I started thinking about how nice it was that it felt like we were on vacation.
“Andrew, when was the last time we went on an actual vacation? Do you remember?” I asked him.
“Hmmmm,” he replied. “Well, the house swap doesn’t count!”
“No,” I said. “It doesn’t. When was it before that?”
We started discussing the places we’d been and finally settled on our trip to Denver just after Christmas of 2012. I had a wedding to shoot and we decided to all go and see if we could make a “work-cation” actually work for our family. We booked a hotel room with a kitchen and a bedroom that was actually pretty discounted through the holidays and Sam planned to work at least a couple of the days while I played with the kids. So, maybe it wasn’t really a “vacation” as Sam was still working? I guess it depends on your definition. Maybe that was just a pre-curser to our current lifestyle.
As Sam and I were discussing later that evening our idea of “vacation” and what that actually meant, we realized we also had a trip in May of 2013 to Arches and Monticello, Utah for my brother’s wedding. Since we didn’t work that trip, and were mostly off-grid, that was probably closer to our idea of vacation than the trip to Denver.
[pullquote] When we live our lives traveling from location to location, its obviously not WHERE we are that defines vacation. [/pullquote] So that leads me to the question, “What exactly is a vacation for a family that travels full time?” When we live our lives traveling from location to location, its obviously not WHERE we are that defines vacation. As glamorous as our life probably sounds to most people, we do not, in fact, perpetually vacation. We work, and do school, and grocery shop, and cook, and fight, and argue and all of the good and normal things everyone else does everyday. We just move the house occasionally while we are at it. So what is the definition of a family who travels full time?
My definition of a vacation includes a couple of requirements:
1. Not working. Usually this means we need to be off grid as we are both much too tempted otherwise. No instagram, no internet, no online surfing, no work. That way, when my kids ask me to play Monopoly Deal for the upteenth time, I really don’t have anything better to do. Surprising to most people, Sam doesn’t come with us on all our adventures. He really does have to work, so the kids and I are the ones that visit most of the museums, spend more time exploring National Parks and things like that. Having HIM take the kids down to the swimming hole while I relax in a hammock or pound out 6 blog posts that have been bouncing around in my head for weeks guilt free is just awesome. He doens’t have anything better to do either.
2. Less cooking and meal prep. This can happen in a couple of ways. Either we are at an all-inclusive resort (cruise or something similar) or we are with people and split the meal assignments. I don’t mind cooking a little. Just not the whole time. Or we budget to eat out. A lot. Typically this also includes gaining at least 10 lbs over the course a week!
3. Fun things to do. It wouldn’t be a vaction if there wasn’t FUN! Swimming everday, playing games, campfires, canoeing, but mostly just spending time all together as a family.
4. Away from the “house”. Yes. Currently this means leaving the Airstream. I realize most people vacation IN their travel trailers, but for us it would be NOT in the trailer. Our most recent vacation to Camp Noyo we were in a tent for a week. We are also scheming possibly a cruise, and we’ve even talked about renting a house on Air BnB or something simliar just to change things up.
5. Four to seven days long. Vacations don’t last forever. We do get itchy to get back to our normal schedule, but at the same time it also takes time to RELAX. The first evening we were at Camp Noyo we put the kids to bed and just stared at each other. “What on Earth are we going to do for 7 days?” We wondered. Two days later I was thinking that I could probably stay here forever. 3 days after that I was ready to get back to our normal routines. Four to seven days is time enough to relax, but not too long that we go crazy.
I don’t foresee us “vacationing” very often. Like most people, we do have to work to pay the bills, but unlike most people we don’t get paid vacation. Sam has a pretty good system for planning in vacation or free time into his work schedule, but it does take some sacrifice on my part and extra work days on others for him. Despite the extra effort to earn our vacation, we still need it. It feels so good to just let go and relax for a short period of time.