Even for the most passionate travelers, it can be difficult to put your adulting responsibilities on hold and embark on a major vacation. It's been years since my family has been on a big trip, because between my mom, my sister, and I, our work schedules are hard to line up. That's why it was really special when we were able to go to Europe this summer, and what I learned traveling with my family for two weeks is a lesson I believe many people can benefit from.
Living long-distance, I try to talk to my family in our group chat on a weekly basis, but it's still not the same as being in the same room as them. Aside from the occasional weekends trips here and there, and heading home for the holidays, it's rare that we're all together.
When I was little, we went on exciting family vacays all the time that I really looked forward to. As my sister and I grew up, though, those trips became a little less interesting and a little more routine. It was always to the same places, and they never lasted longer than a week.
I didn't notice how much I missed the exciting adventures from my childhood until my mom booked us a river cruise in Europe that would last two whole weeks. That was going to be our first major trip in years, and I quickly realized how important taking time off actually is.
Sure, there was the initial anxiety of having to be away from work and my friends for two weeks. But after everything at home was taken care of and I was all packed up, that stress started to fade away. I was ready to soak up every single moment.
I finally got to enjoy meals with my family, and laugh at inside jokes we haven't brought up in years. I've actually never laughed harder than when my sister teased me about my failed attempt at painting a Van Gogh masterpiece in Amsterdam, and exploring the Efteling theme park was a top highlight of the trip.
Sharing these new places with my family was so important for our relationship. When I go home for the holidays, we fall into the same routine. We eat at my favorite restaurants, watch the same movie classics, and go shopping at Target. Of course, I cherish this quality time with them, but it's not the same as experiencing something completely new and extraordinary together. Those unique experiences allowed us to make new memories and inside jokes.
Not only was it important to try new things together, but it was so important to unplug from our "real world" responsibilities. If you haven't taken a proper family vacay in years, you might not realize how much you're missing out on. Weekend getaways are fun, but based off this two-week Euro trip, I learned a good chunk of time together to just be a family is beyond necessary.
It's difficult at first to ignore the fact that your work emails are piling up, but believe me — work can wait. You'll have to factor in a little post-vacay email organization, but that's nothing when you compare it to checking off bucket list dreams of eating delicious soufflés in Paris and having your mom, who used to ride horses, coach you as you go horseback riding in the Alsace region of France.
I'm basically telling you that if taking a big family trip has been on your mind, make it happen. I don't think I need to remind you how important it is to spend time with the people you love most, so pack your bags and put up that out of office vacation responder already.