We took a lot of vacations when I was growing up, and I don't recall one ever being boring or routine. There was always something unusual happening. Of course, my dad was a bit ADD, soo...
When I was small, vacation meant me and my brother in the back of the station wagon with blankets, toys, and snacks. We would play back there for hours.
When the old station wagon gave out and we were in our family car, the 1968 Impala, we were older and it was territory time. We drew a "line" down the middle of the back seat, and if somebody crossed it, there was a lot of fighting.
My dad had NO problem pulling the car over to the side of the road and taking off his belt. There was no misbehaving tolerated. Period.
Of course, there was sometimes no place to pull over and use the bathroom. I have had to tinkle on the side of the road many times. I was a very happy camper when McDonalds started popping up all over the place because that meant actual bathrooms. Yay. [Stopped me from ruining shoes...]
When I was small, Dad's theory was that traveling was easier if he came home from work, ate dinner, and put us to bed. Once we were asleep [usually by 7:30 or 8] he would pick us up, put us in the back of the station wagon, and head down the road. Many times I went to sleep in my bed and woke up at the beach.
One time, Dad was loading the car and he put his shaving kit on top of the car, and forgot about it. We drove off down the road. He had to go buy a new razor, deoderant, etc. He was not happy.
I remember as a kid thinking that Dads always drive, and Moms always sit in the passenger seat. I was shocked once to see a mom driving. It was like they didn't know the rules.
We always stopped at Stuckeys. I always loved looking at the tacky stuff on the shelves, and no matter how much I pleaded we were not allowed to have it. Once in a while we might get some peanut brittle or taffy, but it was rare. Dad liked Stuckeys hot dogs.
We also would eat at Howard Johnsons. What a treat. They had a lot of different flavors of ice cream. To a kid, it was nirvana. I would plow thru my cheeseburger or grilled cheese, just wanting to hit that ice cream.
For most of my childhood, this was my standard order: plain cheeseburger [no pickle, no ketchup, no NOTHING], fries, and a coke. Of course, if they brought it with pickles or anything I didn't want, Bruce ate the unwanted extras.
Dad liked to go places FAST. I don't recall any vacation where we didn't get pulled over for speeding at least once. It got to be such a routine that Bruce and I were bored by it.Sometimes we got ticketed going and coming.
We always had to pull over and read historic markers. Always. And if there was a civil war battlefield anywhere near our route, we had to go see it. Dad was a big military history guy.
We lived in Augusta until I was 8. I remember one time, Dad decided we'd drive to Savannah for dinner at The Pirate's House. There is no interstate between Augusta and Savannah. It was a 3+ hour drive. I think Dad made it in two. We drove there, had dinner, and drove home. I loved the Pirate's House because you can hear about the legend of the pirates landing on the coast and smuggling their treasure ashore. I think it's haunted, too. I was intrigued with that from an early age.
To me, for most of my life, I have heard the word "vacation" and instantly thought "beach. I don't ever think of taking a vacation and NOT going to the beach.
One exception was a trip to Washington DC when I was 12 years old. Another was a trip to Chicago to see my cousins, and take my grandmother up there.
I had never seen a city as big as Chicago. It was thrilling and terrifying. I will never forget the wind being very cold, in JULY. I felt like I was on another planet. Riding the el, seeing all the big buildings, running around on the campus of McCormick Seminary, where my uncle worked - wow. We visited a natural history museum, too, which I vividly recall. My uncle's house was all vertical, very urban. Bruce observed there was no yard, therefore no lawn mowing.
Oftentimes our vacations were with Dad's brothers and their families. Unfortunately, since I was the youngest, I was viewed mostly as a nuisance. The exception was my cousin Tony, who was always sweet to me, and was more like a big brother. I would usually end up sitting quietly near the grownups, eavesdropping on conversations. I therefore was pretty precocious.
Sometime in the late 70's we headed down to Destin, Florida, where there were beautiful beaches, and not much else. Nobody had discovered it. We liked to just chill out there. Dad liked to stay at a place where there was a Dunkin Donuts nearby and we had donuts for breakfast most mornings. THAT was vacation, to me. Of course, now Destin is a known destination for vacationers, and much more developed...
I love taking vacations with my kids, and seeing them enjoy the scenery, the water, just relax. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to afford to go anywhere since 2010 [except one long weekend last year at a friend's house].