Friday, August 10, 2012

Dog Days of Summer, Part I: The Ideal Family Vacation

For the Dog Days of Summer, host Jeremy Bates said it was okay to do just one post for the three-day blog fest.  However, I have decided to do three - one for each day, answering each of the questions, though in a slightly different order.  Here are Jeremy's questions:

1) Describe your favorite summer activity thus far.
2) What activities do you plan before summer is over?
3) If you could have the ultimate vacation ever, where and what would it be?

It's not too late to join the fest yourself.   Go check it out and be sure to visit the other bloggers participating. I shall begin with Question #3. 

I've done a fair amount of traveling in my nearly 40 years.  I've been to the vast majority of the 50 United States as well as 12 foreign nations, including one that doesn't exist anymore.  I can say without reservation that whether you're going across the road or around the world, it's the company that makes the trip.  As luck would have it, I live with the best traveling companions I've ever had.

Therefore, the ultimate vacation should be as close as possible to ideal for all three of us.  I wrote a few basic travel preference questions for each of us to answer.  I've compiled our responses below.  Perhaps you can help us come up with our perfect trip.

1.  What is your favorite mode of travel: car, boat, train or airplane?  Why?
  • Our Girl (8 years old): Plane.  You get to look down and see so many things.
  • My Wife: Probably train. To me it combines the pleasures of car travel, seeing scenery with the advantages of plane travel, you're not doing the driving.
  • Squid: Plane.  All four have their advantages but as we're discussing the ideal, air travel gets you the furthest in the shortest time.

Image via Wikipedia

2. What was your best vacation trip ever?
  • Our Girl: Prince Edward Island.  Because there was lobsters and lots of seafood.  And it was fun.
  • My Wife: That's hard. My trip to Budapest and Prague ranks pretty high. Any trip to Cape Cod and surrounding area ranks high as well.
  • Squid: Before having a family, I'd have said my favorite was a trip with friends to Boracay in the Philippines.  Since having a family, our trips to the Philosopher's Island (not its real name) in Massachusetts have been the best.  Apart from involving islands, the trips have a surprising amount in common.  More on that in a bit.

Image via

3. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why?
  • Our Girl: California.  Because I've heard lots of good things about it.
  • My Wife: I'd like to go to Spain to see Moorish architecture, Italy for the food and there's family roots trips I'd like to take - to Lebanon for my maternal grandfather's family, Poland for my paternal grandfather's family and maybe Denmark/Ireland for my maternal grandmother's family.
  • Squid: I've spent five years of my life in Japan - three as a child and two as an adult.  As much as I love the idea of going some place new, I yearn to take my wife and daughter to show them around my old haunts.  I'd want to spend ample time in the Tokyo/Yokohama area where I lived but I'd also like to visit a part of the country that would be new for all of us.  Hokkaido would be my choice.

Image via

4. What is the longest you'd want to be away from home?
  • Our Girl: Two weeks.
  • My Wife: Depends on whether we could bring [the cat] or not. I'd still like to spend a year living and working abroad. If not, 3 weeks.
  • Squid: Tough call.  I love Vermont in the summer time.  I hate to miss any of it, really.  Assuming none of us had work or school responsibilities (this is the perfect world we're talking about), the ideal trip away would run from mid-October when the leaves fade to brown until mid-May when everything turns green again - seven months.
5. How much time would you be willing to spend getting there?
  • Our Girl: One week.
  • My Wife: Again depends, I'd be happy taking a week stopping in other places to get to the final destination. If you're talking just straight traveling, I'd prefer no more than 24-36 hours.
  • Squid: I don't like feeling as if I've spent most of the trip in transit.  As long as there are fewer travel days than non-travel days, I'm happy.
6. On your ideal trip, would you rather stay in one place or visit lots of different places?
  • Our Girl: One place.
  • My Wife: I like having a base to use to go out and explore different places in the area.
  • Squid: One place where there's a variety of things to do.
7. What sorts of things would you like to do on your ideal vacation?
  • Our Girl: Go to museums and have fun.
  • My Wife: Sight see, eat good food, find a good cafe or porch and watch the world go by.
  • Squid: Boracay and the Philosopher's Island are both enjoyable for the fact that one can be equally happy doing things or not doing anything.  Both also involved hours of little more than staring at the ocean in wonder.  As long as I have plenty of reading material, I'm content.

8. Would you want to see people on your ideal vacation?  If so, whom would you like to see?
  • Our Girl: Yes. My cousins. [Ed. note: My Sister and her family live in California.  See Question #3.]
  • My Wife: One of the things that was nice about the Budapest/Prague trip is my travel companion was interviewing people for a magazine piece she was doing and I got to listen in on interesting conversations about how people felt about the direction of Eastern Europe at the time. I like encounters like that. Really overall though I think in my ideal vacation I don't want to see anyone.
  • Squid: No one but the three of us.  I write this knowing full well that there are important people in my life whom I would never see unless I travel to them.  On the perfect trip, we would have social obligations to no one but ourselves.
As you can see, there is consensus or at least plurality on a few points and room for negotiation on the others.   It's important to note, even the perfectly planned vacation can go disastrously wrong - all the more reason to travel with the right people.

Please stop by tomorrow for Part II. You can link to the blog list on Jeremy's site either through the graphic on my side bar or this link. Happy hopping!


  1. Sounds like you all enjoy different things. I was exhausted reading this post.

  2. Indeed, a very thorough post. I have to say I'm with your wife on her choice of the train. I've only enjoyed one train ride in my life, through Alaska. But I would jump at the chance to ride a train through any number of states -- or Europe!

    (I am not very well-traveled, at all.)

    Another very lovely family post, Squid.

    1. Suze, if you ever make it to Japan, the train system is fantastic. From the bullet trains to the locals, there is no better way to see the country.

      Alaska! There's a great one for some day.

  3. Some great questions. I've never been on a family vacation where we actually hopped on a plane and went somewhere. We've driven to Mexico, Canada, and our bordering states for activities. It wold be nice to hope on a plane and see a slice of the world beyond our borders. =)

  4. You've had some amazing adventures! Keep it up, and happy traveling.

  5. Sounds like you all have lots of great ideas but how many match up.

  6. It's so sweet that you included your whole family in this!

  7. Travel has to be by plane here in Australia, unless you want to spend hours in a car. Which I don't, as I get car sick :(

    Hope you find something that you can all enjoy - it sounds like a mammoth task!

  8. Visiting from the Dog Days blog fest. Thanks for visiting my post. I agree- any good trip can be ruined by traveling with the wrong people. We have learned that traveling with just our family (five of us) works best. As for where your family should go- that's a tough one, but one of my best family trips as a kid was west to Yellowstone National Park. You can fly (or take a train)and there is definitely something for everyone. Enjoy wherever you end up!
    A2Z Mommy and What’s In Between

  9. That's awesome you included all your family in this! It's great your girl likes to travel. My son is a homebody. He hates more than an afternoon spent away from home. Great first day to the blogfest!

  10. I stay in Manila year round albeit I am in Manila now. Boracay is so cool if it isn't during the rainy season. There are so many places to see in the Philippines that are beautiful.

    Ever coming back there?

    1. I would love to! I would happily spend many months exploring that beautiful country. I would need a more lucrative career to do that kind of traveling again. Back when I was young and unencumbered, Asia was a fantastic place to be.

  11. Loving the kid's answers - so straightforward!

  12. I love how you included your family in this and I loved reading the differing answers! Sounds like if these questions ever came to fruition you'd have some pretty awesome vacations!