The summer vacation is the quintessential American rite-of-passage. Like losing your first tooth, sharing your first kiss, and finding out that Santa isn’t real, each family vacation was an opportunity to find yourself. Every family might have slightly different traditions, but everybody went on the same vacations. Nobody’s sure how it happened. This was ages before the internet, so you couldn’t just Google “Top 5 Vacations to Take in America,” and go from there. But somehow, every family did the same thing, and the same things always seemed to happen.
5. The Beach
vacation is a tale as old as time. One of your siblings forgot to put on sunscreen on the first day out in the sun and spent the rest of vacation in the hotel watching Nicktoons and slathering Aloe on their lobster-hued skin. The beach trip is where you first fell in love with that cute kid from the next state over, but heartbreak shortly followed when you realized that long distance relationships don’t work out -- especially not in middle school. You tried to cheat at mini golf, but somehow your dad still won, and he’ll never let you forget it. You’ll forever swear that you saw a shark while bathing in the ocean, but it was probably a plastic bottle tangled in seaweed.
4. The Staycation
This “vacation” was actually just a con on behalf of your parents. They tried to jazz up the idea that staying home during the summer counted as a family trip, but you just ended up eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. While your parents left you to fend for yourself, they used the staycation to sleep in every morning and never change out of their bath robes. Now we know that the staycation was just an excuse for everyone to binge watch TV all day and not feel guilty for letting the laundry pile up for a week.
Dad never really left the suburbs, but due to some mysterious wild hair that hit him around his mid 30s, he decided to “get back to his roots
” and take the family camping. Your mom humored him, but the camping trip was a disaster before it even started. Since he hadn’t used his tent in 15 years, mildew lined all of the seams and some mysterious critter had gnawed a hole in one of the corners during its years of neglect. After paying for all of the supplies like hot dogs, firewood, lighter fluid, safari hats, hiking boots, cooking supplies, lamps, matches, first aid kit, wool socks, cargo shorts, flannel shirts, and sleeping bags, it would have been cheaper to stay in a hotel somewhere instead, but this vacation was all about the “experience.” Apparently, that meant countless mosquito bites, a severely sprained ankle, and a vacation
that ended three days earlier than planned. Thanks, Dad.
2. We’re Going to Paris! You’re Going to Grandma’s
The classic bait and switch. You stumbled upon pamphlets of France in your parent’s bathroom, and you thought the family was going to Paris! It turns out that somebody was going to Paris, but it wasn’t you. Your parents ditched you at Grandma and Grandpa’s
on their way to the airport and caught their flight to Europe. They had a great time seeing the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Notre Dame, while Grandpa taught you what an early bedtime really
was. This vacation taught you what betrayal really means.
1. Road Trip
The automobile was invented in America, so it’s natural that the road trip is the vacation that everyone’s taken at least once
. The family packed half of the house into the back of the wood-paneled station wagon and hit the open road. Your parents regretted their decision about two hours into the trip when the first round of 99 Bottles of Coke on the Wall started. By the third run-through, everyone was on edge. By the fifth, the delirium of the road set in, and the entire family concluded that there had never been a better song written than 99 Bottles of Coke on the Wall. You still don’t know why your parents willfully trapped themselves in the car with your younger self for eight hours a day for a week and a half straight, but the memories forged would last a lifetime. How could anyone forget seeing the largest wheel of cheese in the world?