Family Gone Wild! Guide to a Guilt-Free Family Vacation

Families Gone Wild:  Breaking All the Rules on Vacation

Recently, on our family beach vacation, I found myself watching my sons eat lime tortilla chips for breakfast while they played video games.

Normally, I would have chanted my usual rant of, “Do you want to grow up strong with a brain that works, or are you content to be a weakling whose brain turns to mush?  You’ll end up a 30 year old geek living in my basement playing video games!”

But, in the spirit of all that is vacation, I refrained from my usual tirade, and it occured to me:  On vacation, we behave as a family gone wild.

Thomas Donut & Snack Shop Laguna Beach FL

I admit it.  When we’re on vacation, we break a lot of the usual rules.  Do we feel guilty about that?  Well I confess that I’ve felt quite a bit of guilt about it before.  If I hadn’t, wouldn’t you start to get really worried about my kids at this point?  But on family trips I’ve learned to let the guilt just slip away, much like the warm, sunny days of our vacations seem to slip away much too quickly.

My family stopping for donuts at the beach - yum!
My family stopping for donuts at the beach – yum!

And that’s the point.  This is a vacation, a break from “the norm,” and these times are few and far between, and they do slip away much too quickly.  We need these getaways a few times a year to get away from the rules and relax, resting our mind, body, and soul.

So the deal I’ve come up with is that we try to enjoy a pretty much “guilt-free” vacation.  Not “hedonistic,” mind you, just guilt-free enough to truly get into a relaxed state.

For our family, the key to a successful guilt-free vacation is to know which rules are breakable, which rules are bendable, and which rules are unbreakable – for the sake of our sanity, and quite possibly our health and well-being.  Here are a few of our “Guilt-Free Getaway Guidelines:”

Krispy Kreme Dinner


Know which rules are “BREAKABLE.”  Through trial and error over the years, we’ve found some rules that really don’t cause eternal damage to our health and hearts if we just go ahead and break them.  For us, this includes bed time and wake time.  We let the kids stay up a little later to play and watch movies with us.  Added bonus, we all get to sleep a little later in the mornings.  We also buy snacks that we don’t normally keep on hand, such as oatmeal pies, lime tortilla chips, ice cream, and sodas.  A few treats on vacation haven’t brought on the destruction of our health.

World of Chocolate Orlando

Know which rules are “BENDABLE.”  We have a few rules that we “bend” instead of break.  For instance, on vacation we eat out a lot, so the kids are allowed to order some meal items and drinks throughout vacation that they don’t normally get to eat every day, such as fries and sodas.  However, we try to balance this with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.  We have fun trying out the fresh produce in the different locations we vacation.  Also, we bend the rules on electronic games and devices, allowing a little more usage on vacations (especially during travel times, which keeps parental sanity intact).  Again, we balance this by making sure we have plenty of activities planned as a family, such as biking, ball games on the beach, walking tours, and swimming.

EPCOT Starbucks

Know which rules are “UNBREAKABLE:” I admit that there are quite a few rules that are truly unbreakable, for the sake of our health, sanity, and souls.  First, cleanliness.  We still require everyone to keep their “stuff” put away, take daily showers/baths, and brush their teeth.  No explanation necessary, right?  Also, we have a budget, and we try really hard to stick to it, even (or especially) while on vacation.  It’s very important to us that we all practice good manners and extend graciousness to others, and we never take vacations from this.  Just because we’re on vacation, breaking and bending a few rules, we always continue to hold others in higher esteem than we do ourselves.

Dole Whip

And finally, for our family, we don’t take vacations from our values.  We still take time to pray, have devotions, and show our gratitude to the One who blessed us with the opportunity to enjoy a vacation.  We may break and bend a few rules from time to time, but we never go so wild that we don’t take the time to appreciate and give thanks for the beauty and uniqueness of God’s creation which has been designed for our enjoyment.  This is who we are, and that’s unbreakable.

Now that I’ve exposed my “Family Gone Wild” vacationing lifestyle with you, I’m wondering, do you break the rules on vacation?  I’d love to hear which rules your family considers “breakable, bendable, or unbreakable!”


Tron 🙂

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