Family “Vacation”?

I get five weeks of vacation with my job, meaning that until I am done work, I have plans for approximately 47 weeks of the year, and have control of the rest.  My idea of a great vacation includes a lot of sitting around, reading and perhaps having a few drinks.  These are activities that I am normally not able to do for any length of time the rest of the year, and I look forward to them.  Growing up, I really didn’t do much in the way of summer vacation because I grew up on a farm and summer meant a lot of work that was fairly time sensitive – if the weather was nice, there were things to do like harvesting hay and building fences, and if the weather was bad there really wasn’t a lot to do inside or outside and those were nice, relaxing days during which the public library got a lot of use.

This year, my wife’s family would like to do “stuff” on their family vacation (of which now, I have been told I am a part of).  So far, this “stuff” includes going to Marineland in Niagara Falls as well as several other attractions in the area.  For anyone who has never been to Niagara Falls, Ontario I guess the main thing you need to know is that it’s basically a money pit – especially in the summer – almost a perfect tourist trap.

My wife is very excited to go to Marineland, while I am not really at all interested in going.  It’s not really my idea of a good time to go hang out where a few thousand people are milling around.  I’m not terribly interested in spending the $100 to get into the park for the day to wait in lines for rides and be annoyed by other people.  My wife says that it will be fun because my nephews will really enjoy themselves and it will be something fun to do as a family.  My response to this is that there is probably something more interesting for them to do (as 6 and 4 years old) that would not require the money and time that will have to paid out to have this family day together.

Last year, we as a family rented a cottage on a nice quiet lake, which had a lot of up-front costs but for a week of vacation together was reasonable as a majority of meals were cooked at the cottage.  There was more opportunity for visiting and hanging out than will probably be experienced with this year’s more “touristy”-based vacation which from what I can see will require a lot more driving around and general headaches.

Who knows, maybe it will be a really good time.  I know there are better places I can spend money and probably receive more enjoyment from, but as it has been explained to me, this is a family vacation and my idea of fun is not the same as other peoples.

How about you, what is your ideal family vacation?  Have you had any good or bad experiences in the past?  Any tips for someone who will be stuck in a tourist trap?

13 thoughts on “Family “Vacation”?”

  1. Ok, I have a bit different of a childhood. Vacations had both museums and some touristy fun things. As such to this day I still like doing both.

    In regards to your ‘being stuck in a tourist trap’ try to have a better attitude going in. Right now you decided you hate the place before ever being there. In my mind there is always something interesting in those just have to find it.

    Best of luck,

  2. If the rest of the family is on board, you have to suck it up and at least try to have fun. Afterwards, when everyone’s realized how difficult it is to wrangle a 6 and 4 year old through a theme park (don’t the rides have a height requirement?), your suggestion that maybe next time be a quiet vacation where you can hang out together as a family instead of hectic activity might fall on fertile ground. It may be an issue of taking turns with vacation ideas.

  3. I agree with Tim, if you’ve decided you’ll hate it then you will. You can always make the trip a bit better. You could always do a bike tour of the vineyards in NOTL or something to chill out, and I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Niagara sitting in a quiet corne of the hotel bar and reading. And I’ve never been to marineland but suggest you go very early or very late – the midday crowds in those kind of places can be horrific.

    Personally I’m a bit of a cheapskate day to day but have no problem budgeting/spending a lot on vacation, and certainly don’t stress out about it while I’m away which sort of ruins the whole idea.

  4. I would say check to see if there are any city passes our coupon books available for that area. You often can find them online. I have used these when I have traveled and they have saved me money on admissions as well as avoiding line ups.

    I would also try to think more positive. You don’t want to get into the self prophesying stage where what you think comes true. Think positive and you should hopefully have a positive outcome. Maybe you can come up with a compromise; you will go on the trip but just won’t go to marineland. The rest of them can go.

    I like all sorts of vacations, busy ones and quiet ones. It all comes down to balance. Good luck.

  5. Suck it up and quit your whining!

    Wait till you have kids of your own – then you will yearn for the days when you could travel without them. 🙂

  6. Choose one of your vacation days to be a “Dave Day”, which means you have total say over what is done that day. It will allow you to enjoy a part of the vacation without spoiling the rest of it for your wife. Compromise is good 🙂

  7. Marineland is not too bad. When we went in the summer we did it on a Tuesday first thing in the morning as the crowds are lighter Monday to Wednesday. By the time it started getting too busy for me we had already finished most things. Most people do Niagara Falls Thursday to Sunday so avoid those times. If it rains go and see the falls and go on the boat under the falls, the crowds are much lighter and on the boat you get wet anyways. Hit up vineyards and get some good wine too! A bottle or two helps pass the time!

  8. @ Tim, Margurite, guinness416, Miss T, Four Pillars: You have echoed my wife’s sentiment on my attitude towards the “vacation”, which she is happy about. We’ll see how it goes – who knows, it might be fun….

    @ Dave – Thanks for the tips!

    @ ET – I use cost to calculate everything, where possible – it’s generally a factor in everything I do. I am basically saying that for the same amount of money there are perhaps more family oriented activities that could be done than standing in lines with hundreds of other people for the day.

  9. I would hate to have to go on a vacation where I hated the activity (and I would hate a touristy, noisy, overly busy ‘amusement’ park). Being told to change my attitude wouldn’t help. Compromise is defined as a settlement where each side makes concessions. This could be a power trip — if you go along, you may have many years of vacations you hate.

  10. You need to change your attitude before departing… if you go with the current attitude, you’ll be remembered as “the person who ruined our vacation”.

    The trick to enjoying yourself in a tourist trap is to do everything that’s free. Make it a treasure hunt. Line up the coupon books and go for it! At something like a water park, where one admittance gets you in the door and there are no ride tickets, you go on every slide until you’re exhausted, skipping things with long lines (figure out in advance which ones will have the lines and hit them first).

  11. I went to Marine Land. Honestly, this place is so boring even for kids. I liked to feed fawns… and that was it.

    Do your children like to wait hours before doing activities? Mine not, so I avoid these kind of activities because I don’t want to become deaf by the end of summer 😉 usually, I don’t have a hard time convincing them that we can find better ideas.

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