I think many people have vivid images of childhood vacations--those long road trips in a cramped station wagon, fighting with siblings, no air conditioning, playing I-Spy to pass the time...
Well, my memories of my childhood and teen years are a little fuzzy around the edges, so I can't quite remember any vacations. Now this could be because there weren't any (money WAS tight), or it could be that my brain took a vacation after I had kids. I'd like to think the former, but truth is it might be the latter. I do recall the cross country trip when my family moved from Las Vegas to Boston (me, my brother, mom, dad, Charlie--the dog (boxer/Great Dane mix) and Rama (the Siamese cat) stuffed into the front seat of a U-haul). Looking back with adult eyes, that trip must have been torture for my parents, but I have fond memories of it (other than my hamster dying on the trip).
Anyhoo, my point being is that my husband and I have subjected our kids to plenty of car rides. Long ones. 16 hours to Florida. 15 to Vermont. 14 to Massachusetts. And we do it in one fell swoop. But in this day of technology, they usually had their handheld video games, Ipods, etc. There was rarely any fighting and except for maybe one or two upset stomachs (and a psycho driver in Kentucky) all went well.
Last week we threw caution to the wind when we went to Vermont--we flew. It was the first plane ride for my teenaged daughter, the fourth for my teenaged son (the first three happened when he was a baby). I thought this would be SO much easier than a car ride. But I found a lot of things the same.
-You still have to be really careful what to pack (esp. for a flight).
-Inevitably someone always forgets something.
-Those electronics are here to stay.
-People watching is fun whether you're peeping into other cars on the highway or in an airport terminal.
-Someone always gets sick.
-Legs will cramp and butts will hurt--doesn't matter which kind of vehicle.
-The temperature is never right, too hot, too cold.
-Someone always has to use the rest room.
We've already begun thinking whether we'll drive or fly next year... we're not sure yet. There are pros and cons to both. But one thing I realized this year--that getting to the vacation destination is half the fun of the trip. And, more importantly, it's being with the people you love that makes it all worthwhile.
(That's us, minus my oldest, on top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine.)