By: Ruth Topper
A few weeks ago my fellow blogger, Karen, shared some of her favorite family friendly vacation destinations over the years. It’s always exciting to ask Karen what her family is doing for vacation because they plan different, exciting trips each year. Our family, on the other hand, might be what you call “traditional” or “boring” because our vacation plans have been the same for over 10 years! We spend a week each June in Rehoboth Beach, DE with my husband’s family. This group of 16 includes his sister’s family of 5, his brother’s family of 4, another sister, his mom and our family of 5.
This vacation tradition began in the year 2000 – verified in the family scrapbook. In the first year it was just two families – our family of 4 along with Gary’s sister & her family of 5. As the years progressed the tradition of renting a house for a week continued and the numbers grew! Our third child, Josh, was a new addition in 2001. Gary’s brother & his wife started coming with us that year. They welcomed their daughter, Kelly, to their family in 2003. In 2005, Donnie & Diane didn’t make it to the beach (but Kelly did) – since they had just added their 2nd child, James, into the family in mid-June. Since 2006 our numbers have stayed steady at 16. So each year it is important that we find a house to rent that will accommodate our “magic” number! We have rented different properties in Rehoboth over the years. The houses have all been within a few blocks of each other and the change in location has either been due to our family changing our “week” in June or the owner’s decision to stay at their home during our “designated” week.
So you may wonder why did we choose Rehoboth Beach, DE as our vacation destination. When we started going to Rehoboth Beach with Gary’s family – this was not a random “beach” for us to go to. My sister & her husband had been vacationing in Rehoboth since the mid-1980’s. Gary & I frequently went to spend part of a week with them and our two nieces. We knew that Rehoboth was a very family friendly place to vacation. They have a wonderful 1 mile boardwalk, great beaches, a variety of restaurants, shopping (lots of outlets) and last but not least – Funland! In the beginning we decided that June would be a good time to vacation. It is typically cooler than July or August, it is not as crowded at the beach and the home rental rates are less expensive because it is not “peak” season. This has all worked well for our families.
As with any vacation there always is some coordination needed. My husband, Gary, has acted as the “coordinator” for us. He scopes out available houses and we take responsibility for signing all the “official” house rental paperwork. If we like the house we stayed in one year we normally will fill out a pre-registration form when we are on vacation to hold it for the next year. Sometimes this works in our favor – other years due to our schedule or the owner’s we have had to relocate to a different house. This can be exciting too – to experience being in a new house.
We also do a lot of coordination on food/supplies that come with us to the beach in order to avoid duplicates. Gary started a spreadsheet years ago that we update occasionally. Included in our lists are specific items for each family to bring. For example, we always bring Bisquick, an electric griddle (and chocolate chips) for pancake making, ketchup, trash bags and baggies (sandwich, 1 qt. & 1 gallon), dish detergent (both for the hand washing & dishwasher), specific sets of sheets, etc. Gary’s sister brings the “S’mores fixings”, tea bags, tea butler, charcoal/lighter fluid, clothes pins, peanut butter, etc. Everyone brings their own towels, snacks, drinks, along with a box of tissues and a 4 pack of toilet paper to share! Our dinner menu was set years ago and typically includes picking up bbq chicken on our way to the beach on Saturday, hamburgers/hotdogs, chicken on the grill, pasta with meatsauce, one dinner out at Cracker Barrel, leftovers and pizza – if needed! Several “grocery runs” happen throughout the week with essentials like milk, eggs, orange juice, any forgotten items, etc. So you can see – we have just about gotten the logistics of our family vacation down to a science!
So what keeps our families returning each year? First, it is the week of spending time together as an extended family. We get together frequently for birthdays and holiday celebrations that last a few hours. However, this is the opportunity – especially for the kids to spend quality “cousin time.” Fortunately our kids truly love being with each other. Because we have been coming back to the same vacation spot for years most of our activities are “traditions” and the kids won’t even think about changing things up. For example, our families travel from different areas & we always meet at the McDonald’s in Denton for lunch on our travel day. There is a Pizza Hut and Burger King right next door – but we have to stop at McDonald’s! On Sunday morning (not Monday or Tuesday!) a few of the kids & adults head off to get donuts for breakfast. Our other favorite/traditional activities of the week include: going to the beach, mini golf at Ryan’s on the roof, feeding the turtles at the “turtle park”, getting Grotto pizza, Dolly’s caramel popcorn, Thrashers fries, ice cream on the boardwalk, our daily trip to Funland for rides or games (Skee ball is the best value at $.25 per game. My favorite is the “horse” game!), the boys playing lots of video games, late night card games, etc.
Although it is exciting to go somewhere different each year on vacation our family enjoys our traditional vacation just as much! Share with us about your family vacation. Are you a little “boring” or “traditional” and spend your vacation in the same place each year or are more adventurous and go somewhere new & different each year?