What Is Your Most Memorable Family Vacation?

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What Is Your Most Memorable Family Vacation?

Do you take vacations with your family?

What was the last trip you took together? What do you remember about it? Over all, do you look back on it fondly? Or does the memory make you never want to travel with your family again?

In “How Your Brain Morphs Stressful Family Vacations Into Pleasant Memories,” Nicole Slaughter-Graham writes about how to plan enjoyable family vacations:

In 2015, my husband and I traveled to Washington, D.C., for our annual family vacation with our energetic son, who was then 8. There were no mishaps or disasters, but my husband and I spent most of our time bickering and stressed out.

Maybe it was the fact that we two born-and-raised Floridians were out of our element visiting 30-degree Washington in December. It could have been that we planned hours of walking, sightseeing and museum-hopping with no downtime. It went exactly as planned but it wasn’t exactly fun.

But as we sat in the airport awaiting our flight back to the Florida sunshine, all we could talk about was how we couldn’t wait to go on another vacation.

We somehow had transformed a stressful experience into a great memory. How do parents do this to ourselves?

“We have two ‘selves,’” explained Dr. Omar Sultan Haque, a Harvard University psychiatrist and social scientist. “The experiencing self and the remembered self. In the midst of vacation stresses, we may be stressed and annoyed by family and children and the indignities of bureaucratic travel, but the remembered self easily turns nausea into nostalgia.”

Even though we think of vacation as a time to relax and recharge, traveling with children comes with a certain level of difficulty. It takes stamina, financial commitment and time.

The memories, however, are typically positive because of the value we infuse into the experience. “We tend to think of these kinds of experiences on the pleasure/pain level, but really, giving a child the gift of a vacation is more on the meaning/moral plane,” Dr. Haque said. The uninterrupted time together ideally allows for sharing new experiences, great conversations and laughter. These are the moments that have parents planning the next trip.

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

— What has been your most memorable family vacation? What makes it stand out in your memory?

— Have you ever had any major mishaps or disasters on a family vacation? What happened? How do you feel looking back on it now?

— How well do you get along with your family? Are your trips together generally pleasant and enjoyable? Or do they ever feel stressful, rushed, boring or full of bickering? Do you think family vacations are still worth taking, despite these frustrations? Why or why not?

— What would your ideal family vacation entail? Where would you go? What would you do? Who would join you?

— Are you and your family planning trips this summer? If so, what advice can you take from the article to make the most of the experience?

Students 13 and older are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.