It feels incredible to know that we’ve been doing it right! Well, some of it, anyway. While we don’t claim to be the best parents ever (there were a few bumps in the road and, just between you and me, we are probably not the parents to come to for potty training advice), it’s nice to know that mixed in with our well-intentioned but certainly not perfect child-rearing decisions, we did one thing right! We spend all our extra (and occasionally a little more) money on travel.
Disney Rich, Cash Poor and Proud
What makes us right? Science! Recent studies have revealed that spending money on experiences is more meaningful than buying expensive or fancy material items. Most recently, this article caught my eye. And it got me thinking about our vacations…
In all fairness, it was not all Disney travel. There was an ill-fated (for me) ski vacation to Park City, short trips to places in nearby states (Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma) that were certainly fun, and wonderful visits to see family in Missouri and Illinois. During the lean years, we spent many of our summer vacations on the “Red Neck Riviera” (Alabama’s Gulf Coast). All of those places were great! By far though, our most amazing vacations were (and still are) Disney ones.
Raymond and I honeymooned at Disney World and sailed on the Big Red Boat (precursor to Disney Cruise Line). Then we were parents with extremely limited vacation resources. As time passed, we made the conscious decision to spend less on “things” and more on vacations. The more we saw and did, the more we wanted to see and do! Disney World became our favorite destination followed quickly by Disney cruises that would carry us as far and wide as we could possibly afford to travel.
So what if we drive our vehicles for 10 years or more? That outdoor kitchen I’ve been dreaming about can wait a little longer. Would I like a new washer and dryer? Oh, you bet I would! But that will have to wait until we can no longer repair what we have. We need our Disney vacation fixes and the memories they provide – long after the vacation is over. I suppose the telltale truth in all of this is now that our children are adults, they tell us how much they’re looking forward to traveling with their own children someday. They now appreciate that while they may have been jealous of their friends’ swimming pools, game systems, and trampolines, those same friends may not have dined with Mickey Mouse, zip-lined in Alaska, kayaked in Norway, or saw Michelangelo’s David in Italy…all things we did on Disney vacations. Some of these trips took years of planning and saving to achieve, but every sacrifice was worth it!
We’ve taken some flack through the years for how much we spend on travel. (Let’s not even start on the “You’re going to Disney World AGAIN?” comments.) At the same time, not a single person ever criticized us for not buying our children the latest video game or most expensive sports equipment. I’m not saying we are perfect parents or that anyone else is wrong for buying their kids whatever makes them happy – I’m just thrilled that in rearing our children, we got one thing right. We showed them as much of the world as we possibly could, gave them tons of happy family memories, and wouldn’t trade a single moment.
What vacations have been your family’s favorites? Where are you planning to visit next?