As a family who loves to travel, we’ve always enjoyed the experience of planning family trips with our kids, and that remains true now that they are teens. As they have grown, certain aspects of our trips have changed, but their love of family travel and the memories we create has remained.
In a typical year, we rent a cottage on Prince Edward Island for our summer family vacation. This trip is filled with traditions that we have all come to love and repeat year after year.
These traditions begin during the road trip itself. After about six hours of driving from our home in Orleans, Ont., we stop for lunch at the tourism centre in La Pocatiere, Que. It’s located right off Autoroute 20 on the shores of the St. Lawrence River. While there are fast food places nearby, we always pack a lunch and eat outside for this stop. We stretch, walk around, take pictures to mark the year, and enjoy the smell of the salt water in the air. While it’s a milestone that represents the halfway point for the first day’s drive, it’s also when it feels like the trip has really begun.
Another cottage road trip tradition is when we finally arrive at the Confederation Bridge and leave New Brunswick to begin the crossing into P.E.I. Everyone is excited at this joyous moment; it signifies the end of our travel days and the beginning of our relaxing vacation. We look out over the glistening water (it seems like the weather is always beautiful when we cross), we sing a silly song that we made up when the kids were younger, and we celebrate the end of our journey with a famous Cows ice cream cone when we reach the other side.
During our stay at the cottage, we have plenty of traditions that I know my teens want to continue. For example, the annual family soccer tournament, two vs. two, is a must-do event. Our makeshift soccer field always includes baseball gloves for goal posts, and we all enjoy a panoramic view of the water while we play for bragging rights.
We also always look forward to having campfire dinners during our stay. We move the beach chairs to the fire pit, roast hot dogs and marshmallows, play music, share stories, and tell jokes. There’s something about the taste of that hot dog that beats all others.
The list of our family’s cottage traditions could go on and on. Even as our teens grow older, we continue to turn to many of them as a way to reconnect with each other and renew cherished memories that have become such an important part of our family travel adventures. These traditions are a way to track moments in time that feel familiar and like home, even when we’re away.