Hit the road!

Our family just got back from a wonderful trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota. We attended the lighting ceremony for Mount Rushmore, visited the Reptile Gardens and Bear Country, drove through Spearfish Canyon, Custer State Park and the Badlands, climbed around the base of Devil’s Tower, rode horses through the Black Hills and so MUCH more! We had such a great time relaxing, laughing, and connecting as a family.

If you haven’t hit the road yet for a family vacation, here are some general tips to make it one to remember:

• BE present … Families are constantly on the go. There is work, school, after school programs, sports and other activities. Vacations will pull a family together and reinforce the fact that quality time is essential. Each member of the family must to commit to being present, living in the moment.

• SIT BACK and relax … Parents and children face a lot of things on a day to day basis. Vacations “force” us to relax and not worry about daily commitments between work, school and activities. A family vacation will put the daily routine aside for just a little while and allow you to kick back and relax. Do things you would not normally do with your family on a normal schedule. Vacations are meant to have fun without any worries.

• CREATE great memories … Years from now you can open an album or view a video of your vacation and relive the wonderful memories. Memories are to be cherished and remembered. Take as many photos as you can. On our recent trip, our family had fun with “selfies.” I don’t think you can take too many or enough photos.

• Plan ahead … by researching what is available at your destination and planning what you want to do, you can avoid frustration and family stress. Be sure to make reservations for any activity where it might be required.

• Don’t feel guilty … Rid yourself of any quilt you may have for going on vacation. You have worked and saved for the vacation, and the time you spend is will deserved.

• Make your vacation a true adventure … An active vacation involving new challenges will be most beneficial. Step out of your comfort zone and experience something new. It will build some new synapses and give you some of those memorable, bonding, experiences with your family. Make it a goal to learn something new as well.

• Put the electronics down … On our recent trip, during certain moments we required our children to put the electronics down, so they could truly appreciate the surroundings. Cell phones were only allowed to take pictures. We wanted to teach our children not to let life pass by, to connect to what they had learned about in school and to find the beauty in the world around us.

Vacations are healthy for your family. You may not have the financial ability to take luxurious vacations, staying local is just beneficial. Taking a vacation locally is a great way for you and your family to get away from the usual routine. You and your family will benefit from a well-earned break.

Let me know where you are vacationing this summer. I would love to hear where your travels lead.

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Carrie Kube is a director for Iowa River Valley Early Childhood Area Board. All thoughts and opinions expressed are that of the author and not the board and/or its community partners.