Family Vacation Summer Fun: Ideas for Dads

by Archie Wortham

boy with ice cream
© Corbis. All rights reserved.

“Are we there yet?” Vacation is in the air. For those of you

who are planning a vacation this summer, I’m providing a few ideas for you to
think about that might make this year’s trip more memorable, bearable, and
possibly might save someone’s life. After 180 days of school, what have you
learned, dads? Here are my thoughts!

Remember feelings can be replaced, lives can’t.
Our kids want to do a ton of things. Some things no sane person would venture to
do. Kids need to understand that ‘no means NO,’ even if it’s keeping seat belts
fastened, or not going too far out into the water without permission. Good
feelings can replace bad ones, but only if your kid is still around.

Go where you don’t have a phone. Leave the cellular
I’m not crazy here. I still haven’t signed up for a cellular.
There have always been friends, neighbors, or policemen when we needed them.
You’re going on vacation! If the boss can’t do without you for a week, maybe you
need a new boss. Barring that, give your boss your mother-in-law’s number. If
something is really important, your boss can call her. Even on vacation your
wife is apt to call her mother, and if there is anything life threatening it
will be relayed to you, dad. Otherwise, do without the phone for a week (same
thing applies to moms that work outside the home). Remember why you went on
Sometimes people forget vacations are planned to get away from it
all…well do that!! Leave it all behind. It will be there when you get

Take something the whole family can enjoy, remember I
said enjoy
This guarantees definitive interaction once you’ve gotten
where you are going. Let it be something that can be done indoors. Take a
couple of books you and your spouse promise to read–read them!
This gives
you something you can discuss. Be generous here. Choose a book your spouse would
enjoy, but like marriage’s ‘better or worse,’ commit to reading the book
regardless of what you might think. You can’t always judge a book by its cover,
and this is something that can be done in silence, in bed, and last more than
one night. Take a couple of books your children love, or a board game. Read
to them. Play with them.
If you have teenagers, just taking them is
enough, but you could agree to listen to some of their music, read a book
they’ve read, and talk to them about it–you don’t have to read to them. Try
to book a place that has a VCR, and take a couple of movies the family can watch
The Star Wars Trilogy is a great set, but choose your own,
and watch them!

Let the kids stay up as late as they want at least one night
and by all means let them sleep
Our boys are not teenagers yet, so I’m
not as jaded as some of you might be. Still, I think rest is good.

Avoid the evening news–Relax! It’s not going to
hurt you if you miss the networks’ syndication of sin: politics, corruption, and
carnage as you remember how to count. You know you love your kids. I know
you love your kids. Counting the ways you love them might be both beneficial to
your health and make you realize they’re not worth the stroke brewing in your
veins if you don’t count. Sometimes it as simple as reminding your
kids you are on vacation too.
They’ll forget that when they’re bored. Let
them be bored without you
, after all the movies, the books, the board games,
can’t they find something to do? Duh???

Go for walks, as a family, alone, and with your
You are on vacation, dad, taking a walk can cleanse your spirit.
Walking with your wife might develop into a habit where you can learn how much
the other one wants you to be there with nothing in mind other than being there.
No soft music, no Viagra, just you and her. Enjoy watching your kids as only a
parent can…in the solitude of a walk.

Eat out at least once, and enjoy the free things.
The first gives you a break from the stuff you packed and reacquaints you
with civilization. The second reminds you they’re are so many things you can
that don’t cost a dime…watching the sun set, or the sun rise. Taking walks,
reading books, or just holding each other. Simple? Trite? Yeah, but richly

Drive to your vacation if you can. This gives you
the option of going home early, or staying a bit longer. It also helps you
realize you don’t have to go that far to really enjoy yourself, just far enough
to leave a few of life’s nuisances behind and remember it’s okay to ask
. Who cares if the map is wrong, getting where you want to go
with or without your ego is more important than getting caught in rush hour

Last but not least, take a camera. If for no
other reason but affirming the fact, you ‘were there!’ These notes are not
etched in any kind of stone. Read ‘em and leave ‘em if you like. The important
thing is remember–vacations are important! Vacations are a time to appreciate
what you have, and what you have earned. Remember that, and work hard at
enjoying your vacation, and not so much on making it a perfect one!