A couple of years ago, my husband and I, and our friends from college, started taking a long weekend together sometime during the summer. Each year we go, it further cements in my mind how important it is to prioritize time away with our friends. While I love my family and any excuse to take a trip is a good one, if I had to choose it’s the friend vacation all the way.
1. It’s keeps you connected
Families get together for holidays, birthdays, and reunions. Some of us joyfully go, while others begrudgingly do so, but either way you stay in touch with your family. There aren’t really any obligatory events that make sure you and your friends get together, especially once everyone is married. There have been occasions where I don’t see my friends that live within 50 miles for six months or more, just because we’re busy.
2. It’s less stressful than a family vacation
I love my family, truly. But families know how to push each other’s buttons. There are dynamics cemented since childhood that can make things tense on occasion. Friend vacations don’t have nearly as much drama. It’s relaxed, laid back, and just plain fun. Think about it, these are people you’ve chosen to have in your life because of your similar interests. There is far less arguing over where to go to dinner or what board game to play when you have a lot in common.
Beyond that, you aren’t dealing with generational differences. No explaining to grandma what “on fleek” means and no censoring what you’re saying because your niece is in the room. No explaining why you’ve chosen to make x, y, and z parenting decisions with your child or why you’re not about to rub whisky on their swollen gums.
3. It reminds you of who you are
I am most myself when I am with my friends. I do not feel like I need to censor or concern myself with what people think of me. I feel a special kind of chosen, unconditional love. A love that is not obligatory in any way, shape, or form. I can be myself without thinking about who I am. I am reminded in the midst of motherhood about the ridiculous things I did my freshman year of college, what my favorite wine is, and how funny I can really be.
4. It sets a good example
If you have children, you know how difficult it is to teach your children about the world while also encouraging them to live a better life than you did. To put your friends, and yourself, first once in a while is a great way to do that. It tells your kids it’s okay to do something just because it makes you happy. It tells them that friendships are important. It tells them there is more to life than punching a timecard.
5. It makes memories
Any trip makes memories, but special kinds of memories are made on a friend vacation. You forget your age and some of your inhibitions for awhile. You live in the moment a little more and that leads to both funny and warm memories. You remember why you became friends in the first place. Plus, the next time you get together, you don’t have to gravitate toward “remember that time junior year . . .” stories. You have new stories. You have recent memories.
Vacation time is precious in most of our lives. We use days to go to our family reunions. We take a few days for errands or traveling to and from weddings. We use a few days for ourselves if we are lucky. This year, be sure to allocate a few days to get together with your friends. Save those few days to sit around a bonfire or a winery and laugh with each other. A few days to remember who you are outside of your obligations. I promise you won’t regret it.