Over the past few Christmases we’ve offered the boys the option of gifts or a vacation. Part of the reasoning behind it is to help them learn to appreciate experiences more than stuff. The deeper we’ve gone into the pandemic the more we’ve all appreciated the travel we’ve done in the last. There have been many times the conversation will go back to some excellent memories we have made together while on vacation.
This year has obviously been different and vacations aren’t really on the agenda until more gets sorted out with COVID. That said, there’s one we’ve got planned for June of next year that it would be very difficult for COVID to disrupt. Through Scouts we’re going to backpack as we hike across Isle Royale all 40+ miles.
Instead of travel itself we went back to the well in a different way and got the boys a Christmas gift geared towards travel – nice backpacking bags. As luck would have it we found some at REI in Appleton last night and picked up their Christmas presents early (I also got an early Christmas present of Chick-fil-A in the drive through, but that’s another blog for another day 😉).
Rather than wrapping them up and putting them under the tree we busted them out for a trial run this morning. Loading up for church had me chuckling to myself. It wasn’t just us loading up like usual, it was each of bringing hiking clothes to change into and the boys and I each loading fully packed backpacks into the back of the car. As soon as we left church we hit County Road B, parked, and took off on a 5 mile test hike with the packs.
Not only was it fun busting out Christmas presets early, but it caused so much conversation about the upcoming trip (only a couple of months away). Sure, it wasn’t the same as actually traveling, but all of the parts that make family travel awesome were rolled into one. We had time as a family. We were outside doing physical activity together. We talked about travel memories. We talked about future travel. It was a crazy mini-vacation while we prepped for a future vacation.