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Michele Guay Sullivan, 63, packs her car and drives eight hours from her home in Virginia to Ocracoke Island, a small, undeveloped island in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. She will be joined by 30 members of her family, ranging from nieces to grandchildren, for one to two weeks of fun in the sun.
This is her annual family vacation, which she has taken for nearly 50 years.
Sullivan first visited the island when she was 14 and tagged along with her older sister and brother-in-law on a fishing trip as a babysitter for her niece. , a,, and an obonati an obnati obnati obnati obnati obnati ob Sullivan and her family have visited the island every August since then.
Ocracoke Island is pristine, with about 13 miles of unspoiled beach and a charming village at the far end of the island.
The charming location is only accessible by boat or plane, so the family drives and takes one of the ferries to their rental home.
“Our lives are becoming so hectic that it can be difficult to find time to facilitate and foster those relationships,” said Mary Beth DeWitt, chief of child psychology at Dayton Children’s Hospital in Ohio.
“In some ways, travel and vacations protect that time to share new adventures, strengthen our bonds, and increase well-being.”
According to DeWitt, families are the foundation for children’s relationship-building and social-emotional growth. Having that time set aside on a regular basis to support those building blocks within families has been shown to improve marital satisfaction, children’s self-esteem, and stress management, according to her.
Sullivan and her family live a simple life on Ocracoke. They get up and eat breakfast together at home. Then they pack their sandwiches and gear and head to the beach, hoping to arrive by late morning. She said they “stay out all day long,” playing in the water, walking around, and collecting seashells. They return home at night to either cook dinner or go out to eat before finishing the night with leisurely activities such as puzzles.
“When you realise you’re teaching beach driving lessons to the teenage son of the toddler you used to build sand castles with, it’s a very circle-of-life moment. Our family continues to expand, to grow and change.”
Her son, now an adult, visits Ocracoke Island on his own several times a year, sometimes just for the weekend, owing to his family’s love for the island and the many memories he has made there.
At the same time, DeWitt reminds families that it is not a fancy destination or hotel that is important for family bonding; rather, it is how families spend time together. “Quality time is more important than a lavish vacation.”
“Small activities to stay engaged, such as park visits, family game nights, and regular conversations about their days, also contribute to relationship building and lay the groundwork for social-emotional development, confidence, and resilience,” she said.
While Hines and her family enjoy Maui’s beaches – Hines said Fern enjoys looking for turtles and shells and playing in the water – they also go on hikes. They visited Iao Valley with some of their family members in May and let the kids play in the natural pools and rivers. They also went on an Upcountry adventure, visiting breweries and farms.
“This trip was incredible because there was no precedent to do any of the tourist things,” Hines explained.
“We simply wanted to go on a beach trip together, rediscover the island we fell in love with many years ago, and introduce our daughter to its enchantment.