It’s funny what your kids remember.

I was doing some reminiscing with my 18 and 22 year old sons recently. We were talking about the good times we had when they were younger.

I was remembering the. . .

dinner conversations
house full of friends
water fights
movie nights
bike rides and driveway hockey after school
. . .and so much more.

You know what both of them identified as some of their fondest memories growing up?

None of the above.

Both of them said of all the things we did as a family, our family vacations meant the most to them.

Family vacations were a part of our family rhythm even before we had kids. And they were a part of the rhythm whether we had money or not.

When our kids were small, we had very little extra money and we certainly couldn’t afford to fly anywhere.

But that never stopped us.

A couple times we drove for 8 hours and stayed with friends in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.

We went camping many times. (Which, after it rained all night and poured into our tent, is where I came to believe God gave us technology and housing as a gift.)

We did a house swap with a pastor 12 hours away. (We won. His house was 30 minutes from the ocean and the beach.)

We drove all the way to Florida. . .twice. (It’s a Canadian tradition).

We found a really cool, inexpensive place an hour from home and spent a week there for about 18 summers in a row.

As the kids got older, we did some more adventurous things. I took each of my sons individually on a trip to the West Coast (we live near Toronto). Jordan and I drove through the California, Nevada and Arizona desert together and realized there really are places with no gas stations, no restaurants and no Starbucks for hundreds of miles. Sam and I downhill biked in the Rocky Mountains (my quads have never been so sore—I could barely walk for days).

In the endless car rides, nights under the stars, favorite-song-on-repeat forever, audio books on CD (Pecos Bill narrated by Robin Williams???—oh my goodness), arguments about which restaurants to go to and what time we were allowed to get up because we squeezed all of us into a hotel room. . .something magical happened.

Now I realize there will be some of you who say, “We can’t possibly afford the time or money for a vacation this year. ” We were that family more than a few times.

What did we do about the lack of time and money for a vacation? We went anyway.

It wasn’t part of some big plan. I know that at the time, given the craziness of life, we simply felt we needed a break.

We just had no idea that all this time together would have such a cumulative impact.

But looking back, I now see the value of spending time together over time. And strangely, at 18 and 22, so do my kids.

So this year, why don’t you take a little vacation?

Don’t worry about. . .

how simple it is
that it’s not exotic
that you can’t really find the money to fly anywhere

Borrow someone’s house and give them yours for the week. Go camping nearby. Go to the lake for the weekend. It really doesn’t matter.

But when you get away, something powerful happens in families. You’ll build a bond that’s deeper than you realize.

This summer, we’re going on another family vacation.

And you know what? I can’t wait. Surprisingly, neither can my kids.

What have been your favorite family vacations?