Rebooting the Family Vacation – Part 2

Milepost 2014The Plan

After submitting my vacation request and making my Amazon 1-Click purchase of the 64th annual edition of the Milepost travel guide, I convened a family meeting with my 3 children, Daughter #1 (17), Son (15) and Daughter #2 (11), and laid out the “guidelines” for our summer adventure:

  • We would fly from Phoenix to Seattle, visit some old friends, embark on a 12-day tent-camping road trip across British Columbia, the Yukon Territory, and Alaska, and then return on the sea, camping on the top deck of a public ferry, chugging down the west coast for 35 hours.
  • No Smartphone or Internet usage, except during refueling stops. Gasp!
  • The children (not me) would be responsible for planning 25% of the trip – at least 1 full day each, from sunrise to sundown (or the closest thing to such a thing, in The Land of the Midnight Sun) – responsible to research the 6000-mile route, plan a full day of family activities, and then arrange everything that would be needed to support those activities.
  • Bonus: there would no budget constraints (for this initial reboot experiment). And, to be honest, there are not really that many expensive activities available on this desolate Northern route.

And so, the children, who had never been north of Seattle before, truly had a blank sheet in front of them, filled with the Great Unknown.

NEXT:  The Results


Rebooting the Family Vacation – Part 1


Today’s HR departments regularly communicate the need for a work-life balance, strongly encouraging employees to use their vacation days every year (or risk losing them). In an increasingly interconnected world supported by a global, non-stop business environment, it is difficult enough for mid-level or senior management leaders to step away from their job for two weeks, let alone set aside the weeks of time needed to properly plan a vacation that is truly memorable, satisfying, and stimulating for the whole family.

Unwilling to hire a personal “vacation planner” to put together a truly customized adventure, most Americans today find themselves making last-minute decisions to journey to sterile, all-inclusive Caribbean or Mexican resorts, Disneyland, or take an annual excursion to the Grandparents’ house for a “very-similar-to-home” experience that finds the children spending their time connected on the same Smartphones or Kindle tablets to the same friends and websites, on a family vacation that is played out in individual digital worlds.

The Vacation Reboot Concept

In the Spring of 2013, with a 50-70% business travel schedule ahead of me, and a summer vacation season looming, I decided that my family needed something different, something “better”, something that would gift them with a lifelong habit of broad travel ambitions and capabilities, openness to accepting new challenges, and stronger sibling bonds.

I decided to reboot my family vacation, truly having my three children take ownership of some of the travel details for our 15-day adventure, offering them the opportunity to face down any fear that they might have of the world outside Phoenix, and having them get excited and invested in creating memories from a place we had never visited before.

Alaska beckoned. They just did not know it yet.