When the economy turned sour a few years ago
families throughout the U.S. came up with a way
to vacation without breaking the bank. They
called those respites taken nearby
“stay-cations.” I’m sure we are all pleased that
the economy has improved. However, I think there
are some beneficial aspects of “stay-cations,”
that we ought to keep as part of our family
vacation planning process.
Families have bucket lists, comprised of things
they have always wanted to do, but never seemed
to have the time to do them. I’d be willing to
bet there are quite a few families that have
always wanted to do something in their hometowns
or states, but haven’t. How about getting to
that list this summer, those involved would no
doubt appreciate your business and it would help
the local economy. But there’s more.
Child psychologists say we should spend quality
time with our children and grandchildren. I
agree wholeheartedly. Furthermore, I cannot
think of any time that has more built in quality
than the time you can spend with a child on a
boat cruise. No, I am not talking about a cruise
on one of those giant cruise ships, but a vessel
with two or three cabins and a small galley. And
the water you cruise can be salty or fresh. It
makes no difference whether you are cruising off
the coast of Florida, on the Great Lakes,
Chesapeake Bay or a lake in Colorado. There are
many opportunities to charter a boat, take a
sailing class or simply “hang out” on or near
There’s no better family vacation with as many
options and adventures from swimming, kayaking
and learning about history to fishing, shelling,
star gazing and more. And the beauty of each one
of those opportunities is that you do it
together as a family. To me that’s quality time
with a capital “Q”.
Vic and I have some experience here with the
boats and the kids. We have gone on weeklong
cruises with a brother, sister-in-law, dog and
three nieces, all grown up now. Experience has
taught us the best cruises are those with “to
do” lists that follow a pretty regular schedule
every day. This helps to avoid the question,
“Are we there yet?” We are fortunate here in
southwest Florida since we have so much to keep
all family members engaged:
Dolphin watching. We set up “watches” on the
bow. These entertaining creatures love to
swim, jump and do flips in the waves
produced by many boats. It’s a better show
than Sea World because it’s the Real World!
Exploring. We launch the dinghy and motor or
paddle to a deserted beach so everyone can
look for special shells and other treasures
like shark’s teeth. I suppose that where
there are shark’s teeth there must be …oh,
never mind. The beach is always beautiful
and the treasures are always fascinating.
Swimming. A swim in the surf is great fun,
but we also try to arrange a swim in the
pool at a marina. In fact, many of our local
marinas offer great amenities – pool,
tennis, dining, etc. So, just for the cost
of docking overnight, the family has access
to a first class resort!
Fishing. Hereabouts a piece of shrimp on a
little hook does the job almost every time.
It’s great to schedule fishing before
dinner. That gives anglers young and old a
chance to catch something for the grill.
Make sure you get a photo of that.
There’s also reading, star gazing, letter
writing and even story writing. Teachers
still ask for essays about
what-I-did-on-my-vacation though they are
probably input and not written out long
hand. What a great way to get a head start
on that assignment!
Memories are made of vacations like this. And
the kids won’t even have to argue about who is
taking up too much room in the car! There is no
bad seat on the deck of a boat. Relax and enjoy.
Plus, you don’t even have to pack and unpack!
Additionally, everyone on board comprises the
crew and that means each has his or her regular
jobs, answering to the captain. That’s a nice
blend of the lighthearted and discipline. Come
to think of it, the rules for a successful
cruise are the same as those for a successful
Whether your vacations plans take you far away
or keep you close, think about some time on the
water, you might find that experience and the
lessons learned and shared by all the makings of
the best family vacation ever.