Our bags have been packed and we are waiting for our ride to the airport. Once there we will fly to Vegas to hang out with our dear family friends from Switzerland (and see some kind of cirque du soleil show) before we make the 4.5 hour drive to San Diego to have our "official" family vacation.
My wife and I have been married for 25 years and this marks our 25th family vacation. Some people may wonder if that is the wisest use of financial resources or if there's a better way to connect as a family, but not me. Here are 5 reasons we take a family vacation every year:
1. We can't afford not to.
Sorry for the double negative, but it's true. There have been times we didn't have money at all so we went cheap (we do live in Colorado and a tent doesn't cost much!) There have been times where we had a surplus and saved for the big trips. But through the good times and bad, we've always gone on a family vacation.
Contrary to what some may say a vacation doesn't have to be expensive. It's only costing us $400 for the whole family to fly into Vegas (saving us at least $800 from flying directly into San Diego...a trick we learned early on in marriage!) Combine that with staying at hotels that provide free breakfast, using the mini-fridge for lunches and even sitting through one of those time share presentations to get three free nights somewhere (which we've done several times!) you can do a vaca on the cheap!
But for us, whether smaller or larger, the investment is worth it. With a crazy travel schedule like mine (gone on the road with the ministry about 30-40% of the time) it's worth having concentrated time with the family doing crazy fun things!
2. We want to accumulate experiences not possessions.
I want the "stuff" that my kids remember from growing up in the Stier household being the experiences we had together. As a family we've climbed mountains in Alaska, watched Broadway shows on Broadway, toured castles in Scotland, ran out of gas at the top of a volcano in Maui, pruned vineyards in Italy, experienced fireworks at Disneyworld, coasted scooters down the Alps in Switzerland, milked cows in Austria, and fished the rivers and lakes of our own great vacation state, Colorado!
Sure many of these trips were attached to other pre-existing ministry trips (like the one to Europe) but all of them created unforgettable memories and experiences for us to enjoy and recount as a family.
Most of our getaways have been driving somewhere fun and close but all of our vacations have been memorable.
3. It allows us to evangelize as a family in various contexts.
One of the things I love about family vacations is that we get to share the message of Jesus wherever we go. I can't help but think of the times we spent as a family on trains criss-crossing Europe. While going from Venice to to Alessandria, Italy we met a fashion executive who worked in Milan. For an hour or more my family got to participate in a gospel conversation with this lady who was flabbergasted that we believed in a relationship with God and not a religion.
On the train that day I nicknamed this approach "The 3rd Way" (most Italians are either Catholic or vehement unbelievers/atheists/agnostics!) In her thick Italian accent she announced "This is what you must focus on with us...the 3rd way! This is what Italians need, a relationship with God and not a religion!")
And my family were participants in this entire gospel conversation!
I think it's these kinds of natural conversations that have happened countless times as we've traveled as a family that will help my kids know for the rest of their lives that evangelism should be a natural part of our lives whether we are at work or school or play. We never take a vacation from sharing the gospel!
4. It has created new friendships along the way.
Although I knew Corey Best when he was a youth leader in Breckenridge, Colorado something changed when our wives and kids met in Switzerland three summers ago. My wife and his wife clicked in a deep and profound way. My son clicked with their son Silas. And my daughter clicked with their daughters, Sarah and Livia. Since then we have been dear family friends. They've been over to Colorado every summer since to experience Lead THE Cause in Denver. And they've taken the Dare 2 Share training back to Switzerland in powerful ways. The Best family has driven the process of getting our Life in 6 Words app translated into German and training Christians across Switzerland how to share the gospel!
So, not only do we have new family friends, but new ministry partners as well! That would have never happened if we had not been on vacation together on the road three years ago this summer!
5. It recharges our personal, spiritual and relational batteries.
There's something about time away that resets and recharges our batteries on every level. It strengthens our family bonds. It allows us to focus on God together. And it becomes a Sabbath for our own personal souls as we seek to navigate unrelenting schedules.
In this non-stop world of shuttling kids from place to place, staying up late doing homework, navigating careers (my wife is a 5th grade public school teacher and I'm a full time traveling evangelist with Dare 2 Share) it's needed and necessary to just getaway.
We work hard in our vocations so we play hard on our vacations. It is a Sabbath for our souls.
I challenge you to do the same. You won't regret it. Neither will your family.