When my boys were little, my idea of vacation was any place where the sun shone and my children could not break anything. In their middle years I wanted to show them things, add culture and breadth to their world. Now that they live away from home, I just want to have meals with them.
I try to pretend that I am just like you, my non-parent friend. You've got nothing to fear! Not a thing in the wor-- no, Lucy! Don't eat that -- Lucy! What is that thing, anyway? Everything is going to be just fine. False alarm, my non-parent friend! False alarm!
There were a few times up in Michigan when our entire family drove to Mississippi to visit my father's siblings. And we dreamed of making "good time." I never knew until much later in life that good time might be an important concept and achievement.
Not only is traveling with your kids the best possible way for parents and children to bond with each other, it inevitably provides a host of teachable moments that you couldn't possibly have predicted or prepared for in advance.
Growing up, my family never, ever loaded the car for a vacation. I realize that we could have used one on occasion. We had an onslaught of tough times before us, and a set of fond memories might have held us together a bit more.
Many years ago I happened upon a magical island in the Mediterranean. Not understanding what the families around me were saying, I could only observe their interactions -- faces, movements, joy, laughter -- without the distraction of words.