The Family Vacation


Did anyone take one this year?

I’m thinking about the old-fashioned family vacation where all the kids are piled in the back of the station wagon, the luggage carrier is loaded to bursting point, and you drive all over the U.S and stop at any place that looks fun, and eat picnics in state parks, and stay in cheap little motor lodges that had pointy-roofed offices. I used to love falling asleep in the back seat of the car with my little brother–I could hear my parents up in the front seat talking softly in the dark, and I always had such a feeling of security and peace and love.

Probably nowadays many family vacations have evolved into flying to Disney World and staying in a resort, or taking a Caribbean cruise, or even travelling across Europe!

Tell us about your “Grand Adventure” with your family!


car trip around Lake Ontario, Niagara Falls, Gananoque, all the islands, and points in between the upstate NY, Finger Lakes and back to Cleveland. The only prerequisite was “daddy, find a motel with a pool and a slide in the water.” stayed in no-name motels that filled the bill, only expensive room was in Toronto during the CNE exposition (which we did not know about) in a hotel that was also a place of employment for several, um, ladies who worked the night shift. Lots of scenery, history, and fun all day, plus evenings splashing in the pool. kids still talk about that trip. don’t think we could afford the gas to do it today.


puzzleannie, in my daughter’s college town, there is a Motel 6 that we all call the “Shoot 'Em Up” motel. When she was a college student, I used to stay in this motel whenever I visited her. I always knew that the clientele was a little “seedy,” but I figured that I probably didn’t look so good either. And it was sooo cheap!

Well, one night, I thought I heard shooting and sirens and voices calling, “Come out with your hands up,” but I thought I was dreaming.

The next morning, I found a bullet casing outside my room. I asked the clerk what had happened, and she said, “Oh, yeah, there was a gun fight here last night.”


And this motel is in the “good” section of town!

Thankfully my daughter has an apartment now, and I sleep on her very comfortable and bullet-free sofa!


It wasn’t this year, but 3 yrs ago.

disneyland. car. three days’ drive. two weeks vacation. 6 kids. Two in diapers. 1 not even a year old yet. All with the stomach flu. visiting relatives. a hospital visit for two kids. grandpa died while we were at universal studios. Guess who was the only one who didn’t get sick, and who got the nursing duty in the backseat?

I can look back at that now and laugh. But then…ooh, boy. :rolleyes:


Funny you should ask. Because of my husband’s job, we can go to either Hawaii or Rome in January. It is a fantastic job perk, but my husband works his tail off for it.
My husband DOES NOT like Europe at all, not even Rome. He loves Hawaii. Hawaii is beautiful and warm, but I REALLY want to see our Holy Father and don’t really care that it is so cold in Rome. One teenager wants Rome, the other could not care less, just pack her up and get her away from her textbooks for a week. Husband just keeps telling me he’ll be happy anywhere.
So, what on earth should we do?
Oh and to throw another ingredient in, my sister and husband on the West Coast could meet us in Hawaii, but not in Rome.
We were in Hawaii last January, and it was lovely, but I feel like Rome is calling us.
Am I the worst wife in the world or what?


Go to Rome. It is a beautiful, historic, holy city - nothing quite like it for Catholics. Friendly people, wonderful food, incredible experiences. If you decide to go, PLEASE try and make reservations ASAP for the “Scavi” tour to see underneath St. Peter’s, including the resting place of St. Peter!!! Plus - no crowds in January! (PM me for more info if you like - we’ve been several times and were blessed to have a private audience with Pope John Paul II towards the end of his life.)


We took an 18 month old toddler to San Diego this summer – A 7-hour drive in a tiny 4-door sedan, and I was 14 weeks pregnant. :smiley: We listened to our favorite CDs in a little compact, portable CD player placed in the backseat, because my car doesn’t have one built-in.

Didn’t go to Disneyland; didn’t go to the SD Zoo; didn’t go to Legoland. Instead, we saw really big ships, a submarine, an aircraft carrier, walked everywhere, and went to a few museums. We ate at really small, hole-in-the-wall places, and we spent some time at the beach. Just our little family, just being together.

For dinner one night, the three of us sat/laid on the bed and ate grapes, cheese cubes, beef jerky, and juice. DD didn’t get a nap that day, so we decided to stay at the hotel and eat what we had, instead of making her go out when she was so tired. I love that memory. :love:

I came home with tons of memories and pictures, a longing to go on another vacation, and a really bad sunburn (despite the fact that I put on the most sunblock out of the three of us :rolleyes: ). I love family vacations, and I can’t wait to go again!!


We are about to embark on a family celebration in NYC w/ our 3 kiddos. Since we’re starting on the west coast~it will not be a road trip, but a plane ride and then 4 days in the city. Can’t wait to introduce our brood to one of our favorite cities!!!


Thank you so much for your input! Have you been there in January? People keep telling me we’ll freeze. I just emailed about the Scavi tour; I never heard of it before. I had already inquired about an audience with Pope Benedict. How blessed you were to have a private audience with Pope John Paul II! We were in Rome I guess about 4 years or 5 years ago in November. I don’t remember it being cold, but I do remember we had no luck with food. Particularly, pepper on my daughter’s spaghetti and being told there was no meat in my meal, only pork (I don’t eat meat). Everyone talks about the wonderful food, but we just couldn’t find it.


You can download the PDF (with photos!) of the Chance Family’s latest vacation in which we return to Branson, Missouri, by clicking here. Previous vacations to Boerne, Texas, and our first trip to Branson are posted on my website.


– Mark L. Chance.


DD has organized Christmas in July for the last 4 years, only time all 4 families can get together. we rent a couple of condos so we can do most cooking and eating inside, one restaurant meal per day, in a destination that has plenty to do for kids, families, golfers, birders, beach lovers etc. SIL accumulates FF miles so that helps somewhat and we chose central destinations.

went to Orlando 3 yrs ago, and we never went near DW except for one day at Epcot (tickets included in our condo rental). kids spent a couple of days there but actually had more fun at the resort there was so much to do. I loved the sandhill cranes who inhabit the golf course on which we were located. golfers went out early each morning while kids played, grandma baby sat, and daughters visited, then after lunch everyone took off for their own plans, and we got together again in the evening.

Highlight was Mass on the feast of the Assumption at Our lady Queen of the Universe shrine right outside DW. at the Sunday Mass in Kissimmee (?) pastor asked for visitors who would be at DW to take some migrant children as guests, so DD did that, and had 2 great kids along with their own for a day, including breakfast with Mickey, and our kids still remember that as an outstanding day.


No, we haven’t been in January, and it apparently CAN be cold. but, the prices will be great and no crowds. (Personally, I prefer cold weather to too hot, as I find it easier to warm up than cool down, but that’s just me…) There is a wind that makes things chilly in January (“tramontana”), particularly at the end of the month. Just bring layers of clothing.

Sorry about the food; we don’t eat much meat, either, and kept to really good pasta, pizza (only in the evening most places we found - odd) and the fabulous vegetable-based soups. The breakfasts were divine.

Whatever you decide - enjoy!


We used to go to the Exposition pretty regularly when I was a kid. There was a fenced in grass area where people camped very close to the Exposition and we pitched a tent a few times. (Mom slept in the van.)

We took those car trip vacations every summer. Finding a motel or camp ground was fun (not) because nothing was up to my mother’s standards. There were lots of fights but hey we were used to it. Have lots of neat memories.


2006, June: 10 days on the road. (Kids were 11 & 14)

Days 1 - 4:
Drove to Wisconsin Dells. Stayed at one of the HUGE waterpark hotels. Great Fun! Nearly drown each day, rode go-karts, amusement rides, took a trip on the “Ducks”, all of the Dells stuff.
Days 4 - 7:
Continued to Chicago. Stayed at the downtown Hilton, right off Lake Michigan. Toured the Field Museum (King Tut’s artifacts were in town), Sears Tower, Lincoln Park Zoo.
Days 7 - 10:
Drove to Central IL… Stayed a small roadside motel. Time for family - it was my DW’s grandfather’s 100th birthday! Caught up with family. Then the 8-1/2 hour drive home.

2007 - Spring Break: One week in Washington DC. We flew.
Stayed at the Georgetown Embassy Suites (free real breakfast daily, and 2-hour open bar evenings)… about a 4-block walk to restaurants & the subway.

(After only 1 day we realized that a private or rental car would be absolutely useless, and were glad we didn’t rent one! Parking is a nightmare, and traffic/driving isn’t for the faint of heart!
DC has one of the easiest & most convenient subway/train systems I’ve ever used! There’s a stop within an easy walk from any attraction, the trains run about every 3 - 5 minutes, and are very inexpensive. Bring good walking shoes, a water bottle, and you’ll be fine.

One of the tricks to “doing DC” is be an early-riser!
Most of the monuments & attractions you can walk right in (or a small wait)… but the Washington Monument & the Bureau of Engraving require tickets. They are no-charge, but are allotted in “time-windows”. During peak season the *entire day’s supply * can be sold out by 7:30am! Get there early!
The National Archives is also very busy. We waited nearly 2-1/2 hours in line to see the Constitution & Declaration of Independence.
If you want to tour the Capitol Building, you will need to contact your State’s Congressman/Representative at least six weeks in advance to set up a tour. Once in DC you’ll meet him/her (or an intern) at their administrative office, then the intern will take you through the Capitol.


1.) The Lake. This is not Lake Michigan, but one of the Chain O’ Lakes. Drive up in the staiton wagon, rent a cabin, stay the week, never change out of swimsuits, just throw clothes on over them when necessary.

2.) Wisconsin Dells. I think there was a city law in the 1960s that all parents had to drive their kids to the Dells once, go on “the ducks”, see Circus Town and the Water Ski Show, then drive back in a 48-hour period.

But the biggest trip when I was a kid was “Let’s Go For A Ride, Just A Short Drive”. If my mother fell for it, she would put four-to-six kids in the car, depending on how many she had by that time, a diaper bag with some diapers and a couple bottles of formula for the baby dujour, and no food or change of clothes for anybody else. My father would then drive to his hometown in Southern Illinois, nonstop, straight down Route 66 or what is now I-57, not even take time for a bathroom break. I have yet to figure out how he gassed up the car. We would end up borrowing clothes off relatives, and sleeping in their basements or on their couches.

My husband is not a fan of the road trip. We wait for plane fares to drop very low, and then buy up tickets.


I have told the tale of our first and only family camping trip elsewhere on this forum and have no wish to revisit painful (in more ways than one) memories, but camping was our only method of vacation when I was a kid, and still seems more normal to me than the hotel/resort/destination vacation. But if you are married to someone who hates camping, don’t even go ther.


My parents didn’t really do road trips. We went to Chicago once, and Toronto a few times, but we took trains to those cities (and having driven in rush hour traffic in both cities, trains are the way to go if you don’t fly). My grandparents had a cabin on a lake in the Northern Lower Peninsula, so most summer vacations were spent there. The cabin was sold two years ago after Grandma passed away, but most of the family still vacations on that lake. DH and I spent a week last summer camping in the state park at the lake’s south end.


ROME! I’ve been twice in Dec/ Jan and it’s fine. You’ll be doing so much walking, you won’t notice the temperature. —KCT


I grew up driving to Kansas City, MO, from eastern OH for our family trips to visit family. I still love car rides. We had a travel bucket with toys we only played with on trips. We’d go to the library and fill a laundry basket with books for the trip. When I was little we would drive during the day, but now my family drives at night so the little ones can sleep.

My own kids (3 under 4 yrs) travel well in the car. This past Aug we flew down to TX to visit family and godchildren, then drove across through New Orleans into FL, where we flew home from Jacksonville. It was a 10 day trip, and we did most of the driving either right after lunch or dinner to coincide with sleeping times. In TX and FL we stayed at people’s homes, but in New Orleans we stayed at the Downtown Holiday Inn, which was nice and not employing “girls on the night shift”, but you had to pay for the enclosed parking garage. We also visited the French Quarter, Cafe du Monde, Audubon Aquarium, and ate really good seafood at Deanie’s Seafood. In FL we spent the days at the beach or one of the many water parks all over.

2 years ago for Thanksgiving weekend, we drove from Colorado to LA, California. We drove during the day and our 2 kids (DD 17 months and DS 3 months) did really good then, too. We stopped to see the Hoover Dam and visit Lake Mohave (my DH grew up going to the lake so many weekends and has such great memories there). We stayed at the Primm Resort on the CA/NV border, and picked up my sister who flew into Las Vegas to be with us. On the way home, we stopped by Laughlin, NV (another DH memory) and visited the Grand Canyon- it was so beautiful and FREEZING. But so worth the trip. We dropped off my sister at the Albuquerque, NM airport to fly home, and we drove home.

Such great memories. I just wish my kids could remember things from such a young age, but it’s good times for DH and me. :smiley:


Count me out! But we did have an adventure adjusting to being a family of 4 :heaven:

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