We’ve always brought our kids along when we go on vacation. It’s expensive, tiring, adds stress, adds more things to track, more things to worry about. It’s a giant hassle when they are young and it doesn’t get much better as they get older.

To avoid all that, I know people that don’t take their kids but just go as a couple. I’ve heard them gush over how relaxing everything was, and what a relief it was to get away from it all, including their kids.

I couldn’t imagine a worse vacation.

The memories you create and the experiences you have with your kids cannot be created in any other environment. Sure, there’s the big memories at the big landmarks and big sightseeing locations where everyone poses for a group photo. Those are important. Don’t miss them, no matter how cheesy they seem right then.

But I’m also talking about the ones that sneak up on you in strange places. Kids passed out in the car after a long day. Your youngest doing his best to pull his carry-on through the airport, his little legs pumping to keep up. A meal in a hole-in-the-wall that had the best local dish but the worst seats you’ve ever seen. An encounter with local wildlife that couldn’t have been more innocent if you had planned it. A striking landscape scene as the world rolls away from you in a masterpiece of colors and sights, shared by you and your loved ones. Your older kids suddenly stepping up and helping resolve a problem, or show unasked for kindness to a younger sibling, or expressing sincere gratitude out of the blue.

Funny jokes, family stories that get retold year after year, unexpected problems that seem to threaten to drain the enjoyment completely away from your vacation are turned into humorous family history.

A sudden change that lays nature’s beautiful splendor open to you. You can’t make it happen. You can’t plan for it. It just comes, unbidden, unexpected. Unforgettable. And made all the sweeter with your loved ones there.

These experience knit and bind families together. The reminiscing at family gatherings reinforces those connections. They provide one more layer on your bulwark against a world determined to tear down families and trample them into the dust.

Obviously, not all families can do this. But for those that can but have not, I encourage you to reconsider your vacation plans.    

Whatever you choose to do, do it with your family.