Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Simpler Times-Perhaps: Part 4, Vacations


When my kids were young, vacationing was simple. Now we have to manage passports, and the right ID, ground transportation, and making sure we capture all the highlights we can to justify the cost of the trip. This is not a complaint, because I like my traveling, and feel the planning ahead of time is part of the fun. Back then, vacations were all road trips, and were short, a few days at most. We also had to have a loos schedule. It is hard packing things for babies,toddlers, and preschoolers and as a new mom, hard to feel like a vacation when you are on constant vigilance to make sure they are safe, which is why a few days at most worked for us. Of course , it was a money thing as well. There just wasn't any money to do more than a a couple nights. We would book at a discount hotel, finding the best deal we could.  We made sure it had a pool and scouted out parks in the area so we could make the most of the time away. It was simple.  

We packed a cooler and tote bag to keep expenses low and make sure we had ready food for hungry kids that would be off schedule from their normal routine.  More often than not, we made sure the hotel had a free continental breakfast. That breakfast paired with the cooler, was plenty to get us to an early supper where we dined with other families with young children and senior citizens at a budget chain restaurant, with a coupon if possible.  I would look in the Sunday coupons the month before our get away and clip the Applebees, Ruby Tuesday, Olive Garden, and any other coupons for restaurants  we might run across.  While discount, and chains, these were fine dining when you are financially strapped young parents.One more silly bit of nostalgia I miss, is the end of kids menus.  No more puzzles and games to play before the meal came,  No more special kids cups, and little toys that would be lost by the end of the trip, but treasured for the next day. 

Once we scored a deluxe three day, two night package, off season, in a real hotel in Duluth that included dinner and drinks in the carousel restaurant on the top floor.  The restaurant rotated very slowly, reviewing a look by the end of dinner of the whole city.  DD#1 got called "mam" when her chair was pulled out for her by the host, and both kids were served kiddie cocktails with umbrellas. Needless to say, her pretend play later in the week included pulling chairs out for her dolls and stuffed animals at her little table and calling them "mam".  DS thought a lot about the mechanics of the carousel, wondering if it went faster, would our food fall off the table, or would the force keep it in place? He later experimented with cups and plates on a Sit-n-Spin. What's the sign of a good vacation for kids? When they take the vacation home with them in their mind, not in stuff. 

After checking into the motel and going for a swim, we would find the points of interest, talk to the kids about where we were, things they might relate to, and spend the day out and about new surroundings. Heading back to the motel for another swim, we would have an early night in bed, letting the kids first watch something on Disney channel or cartoon network, a bonus treat because in those days we did not spend money on cable or satellite. It was a banner motel stay if they had free HBO, and once the kids were asleep, DH and I might watch a grown up movie, and have a glass of wine or beer.  If nothing on, we would have an uninterrupted chat, knowing the exhausted kids would not wake up needing something.

These were simple, but fun and memories that I still have, though I am sure the kids remember little.  In pictures though, I have pictures of a two year old and a four year old, smiling ear to ear climbing on a boat in a Lake Superior park, happy to be let loose to play and climb. I have similar smiling pictures from later trips to Florida, Mexico, Jamaica, and the Bahamas.  At the time in life, I doubt they would have had any better time at those more exotic of locales, and I doubt I would have either.

While I love traveling, I don't want to get in the habit of thinking all get aways have to be in an airplane, in fancy digs, with a jam packed itinerary. Young children force by age, and by expense, to make things simpler, but not less enjoyable. Now though, with no little ones to think about, I still get to decide how special an event, a day, or a week is. I can decide with what and when to fill my cooler and where to head. Like then, I'll make sure it has a bottle of wine.  

6 comments:

  1. When we traveled with the kids we didn't stay long, go far(farthest away from home was Missouri or Maine), spend on fancy and always traveled by car.
    We still vacation that way now that the kids have mostly flown the coop. Vacationing with kids is work and I never fully could relax. In many ways I like it now that they are adults(or almost). Our vacations are low key affairs and we don't schedule too many activities but I keep a list of options and depending on our energy levels and our moods that day we pick and choose.

    Hubs has been bugging me to go on a cruise but I don't think I'd enjoy that too much. Trapped on a ship with people who I can't get away from if they aren't my cuppa tea?...no thanks. lol I might be talked into one of those European river cruises however.....time will tell.

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    1. You so get what I mean! I still like the little get away, and we are not fancy people, but I do like to pack a lot in-or I tell myself I do. You might really like a cruise. I though the same thing, but there are so many nooks and quiet spots, and then when you want activity, can find that as well. I read multiple books on both cruises we were on-my mark of a good and restful vacation.

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  2. My MIL and I were just talking about our kids when they were little and the things that we enjoyed. It was a crushing workload but I still long for the days when I could cup their dirty little faces in my hand. And I can tell that you are the same way. Thank you for such a wonderful post.

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    1. Remember how the little ones smelled of dirt and sweat after a good day of play? I miss that! I think I am ready to be a grandma, though kids are not ready to be parents, so I'll have to settle for great nieces and nephews.

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  3. This is spot on. My little family trio drove about 45 minutes south to a little lake side town today just to get away and spend quality time together. Little Abe wanted to do something "fun" but we really only planned to walk and look through shops. He was hoping for amusement rides or a bouncy place. He's a goof.

    Well their were neither since we were really just strolling through a picturesque lake front town with tiny shops so he had fun sitting on every single bench we passed and commenting on it's shape, color, and whatever other random feature. It was a lovely quite stroll and the kid had fun even though we didn't do anything "fun."

    We found it so comical that he was enjoying the benches so much that I ended up taking a photo of him sitting on each of the different benches we passed.

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    1. That is so sweet! He brings back memories of DS and looking for parks that had "roofs" meaning covered picnic areas. He thought those were the best parks to stop, eat, and play.

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