I finally got those Chicago posts up and, as I started to hit publish, I wondered…all that work. All that time it took to compose these posts. Why? Why did I just spend so much time on that? What is the point of blogging about our trips, anyway?
Is it to share our family experiences? Or a way to document our lives? Well, yes, to both of those things. But I also like to think that by my sharing it, I inspire you, too. It is not my intent to make you dig further into the pit of comparison or discontent. I’ve been there and find that all too accessible on other blogs, and on social media. No, I do not want that.
So, I decided I needed to write another post.
I want to share, but I also want to serve others in what I do. After all, I could just make elaborate and detailed photo books and write descriptive journals if it’s only just for my family.
I want to inspire, and encourage.
Maybe that post about the marathon or Joe’s (insane) running goals inspires you to take action on your health, or set a fitness goal yourself. Maybe those sightseeing posts inspire you to go somewhere new, to travel more, or even to document your own family adventures.
But if not…I want this post to serve you in some way. So, what can I give you… besides pictures of my cute kids? How about advice? How about encouragement? Ok, you say.
Well, here ya go.
My thoughts and tips…
Travel as much as you can, to as many places as you can, as a family. Many of my favorite memories from growing up are the places my brothers and I visited with my mom. She was great at making simple trips as well as elaborate vacations amazing experiences.
Get a credit card that aids in this effort. We have a Delta Amex card where we accrue air miles, but also allows us to check bags for free and enjoy a companion ticket each year (a buy-one get-one ticket). We also have a Chase Marriott Rewards card, which we use most often, racking up hotel points. We pay for almost everything with these cards and then pay them off each month.
These don’t all have to be big trips costing tons of money. Trust me. We do big and we do small. We use SkyMiles and hotel reward points all the time. We did an overnight trip last week during spring break, just a couple hours away, to celebrate Joseph’s birthday early. The hotel (beachfront with a heated pool) was free.
Go somewhere new. Mix up the annual beach trip – or if it has to be the beach (I get it, I love the beach, too), try a different place, or a different coast.
Factor in some culture or history when planning. Learn stuff!
Get exercise! Kids love to be active – and you should, too. It’s good for us. Don’t take taxis everywhere; walk as much as you can. It’s the best way to see the city (and saves you a bunch of money)!
Do things a little outside your comfort zone. You’ll usually be glad you did…and these are often great memory-makers!
At the same time, bring some of your comforts from home. For us that means things like white noise (for sleeping) and a diffuser and essential oils (for lots of things). Medicines like my kids’ allergy pills, Benadryl, Epi pen, and ibuprofen are a must. And, as you already know, snacks are always good. I will say, I make sure to bring lollipops/hard candy for the plane to help with ear pressure.
Plan ahead. Know when you need to buy tickets in advance or when you can be flexible. Check online for deals, discounts and coupons – even last minute before doing that particular activity.
When it comes to restaurants, think ahead…a little. Make a general plan. You don’t have to have every meal decided on, but maybe a few. We love food, and if you’re like us, we think about where we are going to eat A LOT. One of the things we like to do is find a place that Guy Fieri or Bobby Flay has been (or somewhere we’ve seen on Food Network) and go. If there’s a famous place at your destination, check and see if you need a reservation.
If you are a planner and like an itinerary, still try to leave some time unplanned so you can be spontaneous.
Don’t let the weather ruin your fun. Have an “it is what it is” approach – that really makes a difference.
Take photos and videos (lots of them maybe!) but be present. Don’t live the actual experience looking through the lens of a camera or staring at your phone. This one can be hard for me because I love to use a camera (and by that I mean phone, I haven’t used my big camera in years).
Another tip: get a good balance of candid and posed shots.
On that note…lots of times, I wait until the end of the day when we are back in the hotel room to document that day on social media. I love Instagram, but it is easy to be attached when you are story-ing everything. Go with the latergram mentality.
Souvenirs! It is easy to end up bringing home a bunch of stuff, that you will end up getting rid of in your next Marie Kondo decluttering spree. Or, that will end up being one more thing you have to find a place on your kid’s dresser or bookshelf for (speaking from lots of experience). Think special or small things, or things that are intended to last only a short while like food-related stuff. I like to limit the number. For instance, they can get one thing each day – or from each place – within reason.
Finally, it’s helpful to keep things in perspective. A sightseeing-filled trip like a lot of ours are not exactly relaxing, so don’t expect them to be. I’ve said many times before, “it’s a trip, not a vacation.” Unless of course you are going to Mexico to an all-expense paid resort and the intent is to relax. Then it’s a vacation. Unless you have small children. Then it’s probably going to be a while before your family trips are relaxing. Perspective…
There, 15 things.
That’s all I can think of for now. Hope that helps and encourages you. Go plan a trip and make those memories!