Posted: Mar 25, 2014 10:00 AM
 
Sometimes my husband and I get bored. We need excitement, fun and a little craziness — so we pack up our kids without warning and drive one or two or three hours away — without planning, without much rational thinking, just a need for adventure.

I'm not sure what causes it, but sometimes, particularly during the spring and summer, my husband and I get a strange itch to do something irrational and impulsive. We don't live our lives in some hyper-controlled way wherein last-minute decisions never occur, but usually those decisions are along the lines of "let's go to a movie" or "let's order takeout." You know, little things. Little twists in our day or usual routine.

Sometimes, however, we'll be looking at each other on a Friday evening and one of us will get the itch, and with a grin might say, "Hey, let's go to the beach. Now." The beach for us is about two hours away (we live in California), but we go anyway, often without warning. We hop on some travel website and look for a room or campsite, and we leave.

We just go.

We don't think about it. We just do it.

We've left at 9 p.m. on a Friday night.

We've packed at 10 p.m. and awakened our kids at 6 a.m. to announce the departure of the impromptu trip.

We've gone camping with two hours' notice.

There's something about the adventure, the sheer impulsivity of it that makes it incredibly fun.

And these are, undoubtedly, the best family trips we've ever taken. Beyond the pure glee and bliss contained in the eyes and feet of children who just heard the words, "Pack your stuff, we're going to the ocean," there's something about the adventure, the sheer impulsivity of it that makes it incredibly fun. Now, I realize "unplanned" and "impulsive" are words of death for some people, namely the ones who plan everything down to the most minute detail, and I get that.

But here's the thing: Because it's unplanned, expectations are low. You haven't had time to generate in your mind's eye how "perfect" and "wonderful" this trip is going to be. In fact, you haven't had time to generate any mental image or expectation at all. Consequently, you just enjoy what happens in a sort of carefree way I cannot achieve with planned vacations.

The hotel room is OK? Perfect!

The weather's not terrible? Amazing!

That restaurant on the corner was decent? Yay!

The campground had a cool little swimming hole? We found gold!

There's something in the letting go of expectations, of "this trip is going to be great!" and just rolling with what comes that results in the most fun I've ever had, and some of the best family memories we've ever created. It's pure joy, I tell ya.

There's a time to act like an adult and there's a time to join the ranks of your kids and just be a family.

And yeah, it can get expensive (last-minute rooms are often higher priced), but there are often deals retained for last-minute weirdos like us. And yeah, you may be a little tired after, and other things might be put on hold, but there's a time to act like an adult and there's a time to join the ranks of your kids and just be a family. Have fun. Enjoy the weather, the ocean, the mountains, the hills. The life.

Are you going to remember that you didn't get the garage cleaned that one Saturday in 2014? No.

But you'll remember the time you left at 8 p.m. on a Friday night, drove to the ocean and woke your kids to the sight of the waves. You'll remember it, and when you do, you'll probably do it again.

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