The Summer of Unused Luggage, that’s what I called this year. We have spent most of the summer at home this year and I’m not as upset about that as I thought I would be. I’m not normally a fan of stay-cations but this year it seemed the right thing to do. Like many families we had plans for a couple trips for some time away, to see family that lives far away and just to relax and play with a different view. Those plans were canceled or changed months ago amidst the uncertainty we all faced. Our family accepted that this year was probably going to be a stay-cation year, but I think we’ve done our best to make it memorable.
Stay-cations to me are for those years we need to do a major project around the house or need to cut back on expenses for one reason or another. There is nothing at all wrong with a stay-cation and I find they still include fun but to me they have never had the same effect as going on a bigger vacation involving luggage, tickets, and reservations. I keep two line items in our family budget for vacations for this reason. One line is for summer vacations, stay-cation or going somewhere, as well as for weekend getaways and the day trips. The other line item is for the really big once in a lifetime trips. We don’t get to use that big one often as it takes a while to save up for it but boy does it make it fun to dream about doing and planning for when it can happen.
My son and I love to travel. I love that at 8 he has the same excitement I get when it’s time to pack a suitcase. It is a race for he and I to get our suitcases out the quickest and start packing! His face lights up when we start planning our next trip and making plans. I won’t lie, it makes me heart full that he takes after me in this respect. I guess there are worse things your child can take after you on than the love of travel. The family trips we take I hope give him that sense of adventure he carries into adulthood to go see and experience the world, even further than we are able to take him. My husband goes along with it all, enjoys it when we get there and enjoys it when we get home. We make it work with the 3 of us.
Most of this year though was spent in our own backyard enjoying our pool, playing with the dog, cooking out and taking nighttime swims. We took trips to the library, made picnic lunches, went on walks, and spent a few Saturdays at the beach. We spent most of the summer to ourselves too, out of choice thankfully and not government recommendation. It just felt right to be wrapped up in our own little bubble making the most of the time we had with one another. We had no plans and we didn’t many either. It was just the 3 of us hanging around doing what we felt like for the day and sometimes nothing at all. It just felt good to be home with each other and have the flexibility to do what we wanted at any time.
What I realized was this was one of the best summers I’ve spent in a long time. I still had to work for most of it like I would have anyway and we didn’t jet set off anywhere but it was still special, fun, memorable and loving. I found I was relaxed like the way you want to be on a vacation without the exhausted part from layovers and time changes. I slept really well and it honestly felt good to not have daily plans. Most of my vacation time from work was spent in making long weekends and taking a random Tuesday off to play instead a week long time all at once. It felt free and adventurous to find new things to do that were interesting and fun while being the most simple things. Our days looked like afternoons floating in the pool splashing one another, lazy naps and reading library books to each other in the hammocks. For me it was the moments we were able to spend together and how it felt complete. It was what you would want the most perfect vacation ever to feel like with your family.
In honesty, I figured this summer would suck. I wasn’t even looking forward to it when I had canceled our airline tickets for a June trip to Connecticut to see family. After spending a couple months together non-stop earlier in the year, balancing schoolwork and working while trying to be prepared for whatever may come next, I figured we were over being together. I thought we would be tired of each other and craving space and time apart. This did happen at times but it wasn’t ugly. We would each individually drift away to go do something we personally loved and take that time we needed. I would usually use that time to work on a quilt with my earbuds in listening to music and podcasts. What was nice about not having so many plans is we could do this when we needed and wanted without it being an ordeal. After a couple hours without even being asked or checked on by each other, we would naturally gravitate towards one another again looking for companionship and connection.
I’m very thankful for my family and the home we have. I’m also very thankful we had taken the steps we have to be able to ride out an uncertain time in our world and still live life on our terms. It’s alright to change a vacation plan and still be able to make it a great summer doing what we want, knowing we are going to be ok. It feels good to have that security in place to enable us to live in peace during times like that. I know there will be more trips for us in the future. My son and I will once again get to suitcase race and be excited talking about where to go next. I however would not trade the summer we have had this year for any trip. That surprises me to say given our love of travel but I truly feel it was a great summer spent as a family and time well spent.
Our experience this summer wasn’t something we were exploring or intended, it just happened. We just found our way through it and made the best of the situation. What I attribute to that is steps we took out of necessity and desire to live more naturally and simply and are seeing the fruit of those changes. We reset our perspective on what it means to live well and how to achieve it. We still get to do the things we always wanted to do but it just somehow feels more complete and rewarding in our approach now. That shift has not only left us debt free but living free with opportunity to do the things we want while feeling secure. That is the essence of living naturally.
When I realized this summer didn’t suck as bad as I thought it would and that our luggage was fine in the closet unpacked I realized we had reached a milestone. It wasn’t overnight that this happened and in this case it wasn’t even something we were expecting yet there it was. The ability to be happy even when things are not exactly as we planned. Being happy, content, making memories, getting excited, all because we were not tied to things that were not filling us physically, mentally or spiritually. We actively pursued a simpler life to save money and ended up improving our health, feeling freer and happy. It wasn’t a temporary happy either but one of those deep down bear hugs that encompassed all of you in that feeling and lifts you off your feet.
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