It's hard to believe that it's been a month since we set out on our big vacation. My son continues to wear the wristband he received at one of the museums. It's looking mighty tattered now, but is a reminder of the fun we had. He says he'll keep it on until we go back to that museum (which will be years, if ever, so we'll just see how long it lasts).
I wanted to share a few out-takes that just made me smile. We let my son have the phone/camera at one point in the trip.
Here were the pictures he took of daddy next to a big moose head.
My son also wanted to make sure we got one picture of the bath/shower house at the state park. All of the Michigan state parks that we visited had identical facilities.
Now that we have the perspective of time, I wanted to share a few things we learned from our vacation experience. This post is basically a "note to self" for me as we consider future vacations. Here are a few take-aways.
1. Carefully consider the length of time to be gone. We planned to be gone for 12 days, which turned out to be a bit too long. A shorter time away, followed by some recovery time at home (with a few fun things thrown in, to make it more like a staycation) would've been a better plan at this stage of our family's life.
2. Tent camping is a lot of work. Maybe this is obvious to others, but it wasn't so obvious to me until we were in the midst of packing up our campsite for the 6th time. With me being pregnant, my husband did 90% of the work of packing and unpacking our campsite and gear. My daughter was a huge help, in as much as she could do at age 10. She did learn quickly how to put up the kid tent on her own. That became her responsibility for the rest of the trip.
3. Remember that kids enjoy simple things. When planning our vacation, I thought it'd be great to visit museums and sites, to get a flavor for new places and towns. While our family did enjoy much of that, what my kids most wanted to do was A) go to a beach to swim or B) play at a park/playground. So while there is a place for taking in new sites and making a trip somewhat educational, there is also a time for simple things like swimming at the beach or stopping for an hour at a park.
4. Having a cell phone with us on vacation was a good idea. We purchased our first cell phone 1 week prior to leaving on vacation. The idea of being lost or stranded in the middle of nowhere in the Upper Peninsula compelled us to enter the 21st century and carry a cell phone. I'm glad we did. Even though we didn't encounter any emergencies where we needed the phone, it was reassuring to have. We did call our parents to check in a few times and could call our home phone to check messages. And the cell phone doubled as our camera and video camera, enabling us to not have to pack (and unpack, and remember to bring along) another camera.
5. Vacations are a special time and are worth doing now and then. This was our first ever family vacation (my kids are 10 and 5 years old). It may be another 5 years or so before we can take another trip like this, though I hope we can do it more often. There is something special about discovering new places together, about being there with our kids for some of their "firsts" (first time seeing another country, first time seeing Lake Huron, etc). We made lots of memories. We learned how to work together.
6. Younger kids (and pregnant mamas) do well with small bits of travel time every day rather than one huge amount of travel (like 10-12 hours per day). Our plan to travel just 2-3 hours per day was great. We could all handle the car time without it being too much.
7. There's no place like home :-)