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A simple vacation… What exactly does that mean? Is it even possible? After last year's adventure in the Rocky Mountains, I'm here to tell you it is possible. And once you take a SIMPLE vacation, you'll understand just how beautiful simplicity can be, especially when it comes to traveling with your family.
Here are a few ways you can plan your own simple vacation away from it all…
Step 1 – Don't plan it
Seriously, put down the mouse. Step away from your computer. Do not plan every aspect of your trip.
Obviously, you'll need to plan where you're going to go, a place to stay, and what food/necessities you'll need to take with you. Other than the basics, though, let it be. I DARE you not to plan beyond what's absolutely necessary. I DARE you to figure everything else out when you get there. If you're already planning to go there, the fact of the matter is there's probably already something that drew you there in the first place… like a national park or a lake or the beach. Don't plan every single minute of your trip. Not planning leaves free time for things like laying in a hammock, fishing the day away catching dinner, making s'mores around a campfire, exploring your area, and so much more.
On our simple vacation to Colorado last year, we hardly planned a thing. We knew we wanted to visit Rocky Mountain National Park and climb Mount Evans, and we knew we wanted to do some hiking. Other than that, we had a day to hike around our cabin to an old pioneer cemetery, we had time to explore old historic cemeteries ('cause we're weird like that), we had time to go fishing, we had a campfire under the stars, we got up every morning to enjoy breakfast outdoors while staring at an amazing view of the Continental Divide… It was BEAUTIFUL and WONDERFUL and RESTFUL and REFRESHING and the most RELAXING vacation we've ever taken. I miss those mornings, sitting with my face to the mountains, breathing in the scent of pine trees all around.
Step 2 – Skip the crowds
For once, skip all the touristy destinations, the theme parks, the crowded venues. While I'm a huge national park freak (I have this crazy goal to visit as many national parks as possible), we usually don't just let the vacation be about visiting that one park that's in the area. There are so many more places to explore and enjoy, like state parks, old mines, historic towns, cemeteries (I'm telling you, there are so many stories just waiting to be told), mountains, lakes, beaches, scenic by-ways, landmarks, museums, you name it. Not only are there places to explore; there are people to meet, and when you take the time to slow down, you'll meet the most interesting people.
Skip the crowded places and go somewhere you've never been before, somewhere off the grid of a typical vacation for your family.
Step 3 – Book a quiet place to stay for a real experience
Did you know it's possible to find a quiet, private place to stay while on vacation? Somewhere away from it all, with no visible neighbors, possibly for miles? Somewhere off the grid? Since our experience at the Mountain View Chalet, there's no turning back when it comes to planning longer stays. We love using a service like Airbnb to find accommodations whenever we're traveling… Of course, we also love camping. But when camping isn't quite as relaxing as you'd prefer, finding a cozy cabin can make such a difference. Not only is it more quiet and relaxing, but it allows you to live like a local for however long you're there. It's like the real deal and more of an authentic experience.
I much prefer a cozy cabin with acres to explore and a gorgeous mountain view, listening to the wind whip down through the passes and peaks. Not that I don't love a good hotel room… But sometimes you just need to get away from it all! You crave that simplicity, that relaxation that only the quiet stillness of a mountain or a beach can bring. And if you're a family that's conscious of the environment, there are so many eco-friendly, “off the grid” places to stay… composting toilet, solar power, and more.
Step 4 – Road trip it
While flying can be very convenient and sometimes necessary to get to your destination, it's often the road trip leading up to the vacation that really offers the chance to explore and spend time together as a family. Take your time and road trip it to your destination. Even if you're flying overseas, grab the opportunity to ride the rails or meander through country roads. You miss out on so much by flying, and there are so many places to see and explore along the way.
Remember, it's about simplicity, and one part of that is slowing down, taking time.
Step 5 – Unplug
While it's ok to check email, upload photos, share your trip… Don't let the entire trip be about that next status update or that next Instagram. Unplug and be with your family. Take time to sit around the fire, eat a few s'mores, and explore the night sky. Maybe even crack a joke about how the International Space Station is sending signals back to your flashlight… Yeah, Dan loves joking with the kids, getting them to believe just about anything. Seriously, though, we wouldn't have that memory if we hadn't experienced what a SIMPLE VACATION really means.
Unplug, make memories, and enjoy this time together.
And that's about the gist of it. If you remember anything from this post, remember that it's not about how much you do on vacation or how many places you go… It's about slowing down, it's about creating stories your family will remember forever. Simplicity allows that to happen, and it can be a BEAUTIFUL thing.