Lessons I Learned While on Our Family Vacation

This past week, we loaded up our family of SEVEN and went on a family vacation to San Diego. While we were there I learned a few things about my family and myself. I thought I’d share them with my readers, just incase you need to learn these same lessons.



The very first thing I learned, that stayed with me throughout the entire trip was this little nugget of wisdom that hit me while I was getting a picture with my kids.

You see, I was trying to get a “normal” picture with my kids. One with a beautiful backdrop that overlooked the ocean, when I suddenly realized, this is our normal.

The posed pictures where everyone is looking…that is NOT us. That is simply Mom and Dad trying to get their attention and saying things like, “Look at the camera. Put your hands down. Smile. Say cheese. Just look at the camera. Look at Daddy. Smile. Stand right here. Don’t touch your brother.  Hold still. JUST look at the FREAKING camera!!”

That is us.

The pictures where someone is giving bunny ears to their sibling, another child is squinting so hard from the sun that their eyes are closed and someone else is trying to do karate moves.

That is us. 

I’ll look back on this picture and a flood of memories will hit, and it won’t be memories of me yelling at them and trying to get them to smile when they really didn’t want to.  Instead, I’ll remember laughing as my kids attempted to stand like flamingos while I tried to stop my baby from pulling down my shirt and laughing at the funny words my hubby said as we tried to snap this shot.

That is us.

100% real and authentic us.

And that is okay, because this is who we are, and I love who we are.



When my husband and I decided to take this vacation, we wanted it to be more spontaneous.  We have been on trips where every single moment was planned out, and we were constantly rushing from one place to the other.  This time, we wanted to just go with the flow and see what happened.

So that’s what we did.

We had planned on leaving early on Thursday morning.  But we randomly decided to change that. So, we left at 10:00 pm and drove while the kids slept. We have never driven all night so this was a new adventure.

While we drove, we talked about what we wanted to do. When randomly my husband says, “We should go to SeaWorld.”My jaw dropped a bit.  Theme parks were not in the plans.  We were just going to some beaches and National Parks and whatever else we stumbled upon.

You see, he doesn’t really like crowds, so theme parks are not his favorite, (actually, California isn’t even his favorite) but he goes, because he knows his family loves it.  So, we surprised the kids when we pulled into the Sea World parking lot and it was totally worth the surprise.

We arrived in San Diego before anything was open so we stopped by a random park to pass some time. My son decided to create an obstacle course out of all the equipment so all the kids had a turn to see who did it the quickest. They each did this three different times before moving on to something new. This completely unplanned park trip ended up being a fun memory and one my kids are still talking about because we laughed and played together.  It was a great way to start off our time in San Diego.

Each day we woke up and decided what we were going to do first, and then we just went with it from there. For example, one day, we were going to go to the USS Midway, but couldn’t find a parking spot, so we went to the Mormon Battalion instead and saw parts of Old Towne San Diego.  We loved the old buildings and history. We even saw that one of our ancestors was one of the Battalion members, so it was neat to know what he went through.  That’s one more thing we didn’t plan on doing and ended up being such a fun moment.

The next day we went back to the USS Midway and the kids got Jr. Pilot badges for completing the scavenger hunt.  Add that to the list of activities we hadn’t planned on. This took three hours to complete, and the parents were so done with walking everywhere, feeling like we were rounding up cattle and trying to keep a very tired one year old happy.  In the end, it was worth it.  Those kids were so excited to get their “wings” and we all learned some pretty amazing facts.  One of our boys even decided that he wants to be a pilot when he grows up because of how much he loved it.

We can also add snorkeling, boogie boarding, beach hopping, driving the coast at sunset, napping, and so much more to the list of unplanned activities. Things that we wouldn’t have done if we had chosen to have our vacation structured and mapped out.

This vacation taught me that it’s okay to not have every single moment scheduled.  It was so much more relaxing and fun for everyone when we just took it easy and did whatever we felt like doing at that moment.  No worrying about tomorrow or the day after but instead, choosing to be fully present and soaking up our family vacation.


The whole point of a family vacation is to spend time together, right?

However, each day I would think to myself, “Man, I just need a few moments alone.” I mean, I love my people, but man…I need a break sometimes.

In fact, I knew that every single one of us were thinking this exact thing.  We were with each other ALL THE TIME, in confined areas at times and we just needed some space.  We’d start to feel claustrophobic, and then we’d get “snippy” with each other and all I wanted to do is just run away for a minute.

You’ve been there too right?

Well go do it.

Go sit on the beach alone for a few minutes. Go for a walk. Take a nap. Read a book. Anything that gives you a few moments to reconnect and ground yourself.

Does this mean we hate being around our family or that we aren’t enjoying this vacation?


It just means that we all need a break.

On past vacations, I’d feel this way and then internally I’d beat myself up because I felt that I was a “bad mom” for wanting to get away from everyone.

I’ve come to realize that I love being around people, especially my people, but when I start to get that overwhelmed feeling, I know that is my internal radar telling me I’ve been overstimulated and I need a break.

Feelings aren't facts, they're feedback. -Tiffany Peterson Click To Tweet

So now I listen to what my feelings are saying and I do what I need to do, to feel the way I want or need and then I go do it.

I’m constantly reflecting and learning, even on vacation and I’m glad that I opened up and learned these new things so I can embrace my life as it is and also change anything that I may want or need to change.

To sum it up: Love your tribe, be spontaneous and take a break! 

Have you been on a family vacation recently? Did you learn anything new about yourself or your family during your travels? Can you relate to the lessons I’ve learned? I’d love to hear your input, so drop it in the comments below.



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5 Responses to Lessons I Learned While on Our Family Vacation

  1. Joanna says:

    Trips that are not planned are always the best! You listed great points. My favorite was that it’s totally cool to take a break from family. It’s so true! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Joanna says:

    Trips that are not planned are always the best! Because planning everything just takes the fun out of the “vacation”. You listed great points! My favorite was that it’s totally cool to take a break from family. It’s so true! Thanks for sharing! xx

  3. Adrina says:

    Sounds like you had lots of fun. I also agree that unplanned vacations turn out to be so much funner and alone time is absolutely essential! 🙂

  4. jehava says:

    These are great! Definitely all lessons I’ve learned too! Family is such a blessing!

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