How Travel Brings My Family Closer Together
“Can I hold your hand?” Those were the words I recently heard at the end of our last family vacation, from my 11-year-old son. I tried not to let him see me start to tear up, as I gladly offered over my hand as we walked through the airport in Honolulu.
Over the years I’ve always cherished our family vacations, however, over the last year or two I’ve learned to appreciate the time away with just family so much more. At home, life gets wrapped up in the day-to-day grind, making it to drum lessons, theater rehearsals, and other obligations. It’s easy to fall into the rotation of constant reminders to get homework done, put down electronics, and get your chores done, which can put families on edge.
I love watching the change happen in my family while we travel. Is starts as soon as we load the suitcases into the car, as the excitement sets in and the anticipation takes over. Once we get to our destination the changes continue. On our recent vacation to Hawaii, I saw changes in both my son and my husband that I haven’t seen in a long time. The combination of exploring a new destination and the length of time away, put everyday tensions at ease and brought down barriers my adolescent son had started to build at home. To help bring down some of those barriers, we each were each able to choose an excursion fit our personalities and allowed us to embrace some of the things that make us different while still having fun.
My husband chose swimming with the sharks with North Shore Shark Adventures. We all love sharks, however, my son had never been in the water with them, and my husband and I had only snorkeled with them from afar. We were nervous that being in such close proximity to the sharks would be too much for our son, but our fears were quickly put at ease, when our son was the first to jump into the cage to watch the sharks come right up and brush by our cage, multiple times. As I watched my husband experience one of his bucket list items, I also witnessed a strength and growth in my son that I had yet to see at home. I absolutely adored watching the excitement and curiosity on both of my boys’ faces.
For my son, his passions lie with music and acting, so he chose the Premier Movie Tour at Kualoa Ranch. As part of the tour we were able to visit areas where many movies were filmed, including “Jurassic World” and “King Kong.” Much like the other excursion, it was fun seeing my son light up viewing the movie sets and locations, while watching my husband act like a kid again running away from the toy dinosaur. At home, my husband works very long hours, and when he gets home, it’s normally dinner and bedtime, if he gets home before our son is already asleep, so he doesn’t get to let his guard down and be goofy very often. Watching the two of them laugh and make funny faces was a highlight of that day for me.
For my excursion, I chose to hike up Koko Crater and snorkel in Hanauma Bay, since my heart always leads me to the sea. The morning started out with the very intense hike (the trail is made up of 1,048 stairs created by railroad ties, leading up an elevation of 1,208 feet), where my boys made it all the way to the top. I had to stop midway up, after falling ill the previous couple days. Although I was bummed at not being able to join them, I was once again impressed and incredibly proud as I watched the boys run back down the railroad ties at the bottom. To cool off afterwards, we then went over to Hanauma Bay and snorkeled with some of the prettiest fish I’ve seen. What took my breath away was how sweet my son was at noticing how bummed I was at not being able to hike with them to the top, and because of that, he stuck to my side the entire time we snorkeled!
Each vacation, I learn more about my family, and this trip was no different. In a day and age where time moves by too quickly, I grasp at every chance I can to travel with my family and experience new destinations, while learning more about each other in the process.
If you’d like to see additional pictures and videos from my visits to Hawaii, please check out my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/thensley.wft. If you’d like more information, or to start planning your next vacation, please contact Tiffini@wishesfamilytravel.com