“You are traveling with your family?” one of my friends asked in amazement. Clearly she could not believe that this is something that I would have chosen for myself, however, she doesn’t know my family, our trips, and why I think traveling with extended family is one of the best experiences in life.
First, my family is absolutely hilarious and has many colorful characters (I am not naming names). We love to see new destinations together and spend meaningful time with each other. The joy we have together creates humor and laughter along the way. In the evenings, we reminisce about what we have seen during the day, we play games and cards, and tell jokes. This is how we learn more about each other as individuals.
On one of our extended family vacations, fourteen of us went to Korea and China. What I loved best was deepening my relationships with my aunts and uncles, hearing stories about when they were growing up on the farm in South Dakota, and the mischief they got into as kids. In addition, I got to know some of the children of my cousins (I guess that makes them second cousins once removed or some such thing). When you can span the generations like this, everyone learns from each other…the young teach the seasoned and the seasoned teach the young. It is amazing to see the friendships that develop among family members and across generations. These times allow a family to be together because they want to be, not because they have to be.
You should not be discouraged if you think that some of your family members would not want to take a trip together. We recently took a Mediterranean Cruise with eight family members and I could not always tell if my twenty-something son was enjoying himself. When back at home, I overheard him telling his friends stories about what he had seen, but he mainly described… the people who had been on the trip and what we had done together. That is what stuck with him, and makes him want to experience that camaraderie again.
Now, does it always have to be “related” people that go on vacation together? Of course not. Sometimes you feel a sense of belonging with a group that feels “like family”. There is no end to the possibilities for creating a legacy of memories with people you care about through travel experiences.