Stacey (my wife) and I have been thinking about our niece. We live in New York City, she lives close by in New Jersey with my brother and his wife, and she has a brother as well.
My brother is the opposite of me when it comes to travel. He is not adventurous. He does not ever want to leave the country. My niece is getting the travel bug and is nicely influencing my brother to the point where my brother said to me in a quiet moment, “she hasn’t even left the country”, with a sigh of regret. Clearly he was feeling my niece’s opinion on the topic.
I know that my brother will go outside the country with his family eventually. But my niece is 14 years old which means that in 4 years she will essentially be on her own and definitely not interested in going on vacation with us.
So my wife said to me, we should take your niece on vacation with us! Which I thought was a great idea, if she would be open to it. In preparation, I knew that we were going to have to sell my niece on the idea AND my brother.
Preparing the proposal
That being the case, we created an outline of the idea. We wanted to take her on a 4 day trip somewhere – somewhere long enough for her to get a good taste but not long enough to regret spending that much time with her aunt and uncle. It was my opinion that we shouldn’t tell her a place. That instead we should talk to her and create a trip around her interests while influencing her opinion as fairly as we could.
We had the family over for dinner – for the second time ever! Usually they don’t want to come into the city to spend dinner with us so this was a special time. We sat my niece next to me at the table as we do get along pretty well and I was considering when a “good time” to bring it up would be. I wanted to be able to chat with her privately about it just a bit. To give her a lead and see if she picked up on it and to gauge whether she was actually excited about the idea or not.
That nervous feeling
The cool thing was that I was oddly a little nervous about it. As I sat there I was thinking about this feeling. This timid feeling of what is going to happen when I say something. Something that I can’t take back. It was a throwback to when I wanted to be friends with someone in middle school and hoping that they wanted to hang out with you too. I can’t remember a time as a married adult where I was nervous about a conversation that did not involve work or entrepreneurship in some way. It was a happy nervousness. An excited nervousness.
At the opportune moment, I gave her a head nod, and subtlety waved a finger to her and told her to lean in. I quietly, almost whispered, said “Stacey and I were talking, and we were thinking… and then I looked at Stacey who was still in a different more adult conversation, that Stacey and I want to take you on a trip somewhere outside of the country with us. Does that sound like something you would like to do?”
Immediately she said “Yeah that sounds awesome!”
Then I looked at Stacey who was listening in at this point with her conversation having abruptly ended and my brother was leaning in from across the table. Shockingly my brother looked supportive and looked at my niece to see what her response would be! I gave my niece 2 rules. First, her parents needed to agree to it and second that I wanted to work with her to figure out a destination!
So I asked, do you have an idea as to what type of vacation you want to go on? She chimes in “BEACH” – much to my dismay.
About “the beach”
Look. Some of you like the beach, I get it. Perhaps you like sitting on the beach for 4 days and then returning home with your souvenir sunburn. But for me the beach is torture unless there is an activity to do there. Stacey tells me that she likes sitting on the beach sometimes but then proceeds to cover her entire body and head in a material to block the sun. So when I see her on the beach, layered under an umbrella, a big ol hat, tons of suntan lotion and clothing covering every inch of her body…. I know she doesn’t like it much either.
Also, I prefer adventure! I sit on my butt all year long at work – I want to explore the world and go places where most people don’t go. Or at least with my niece give her some idea what a vacation like that feels like.
I note that she has only been on vacation to the beach. She is 14 and every vacation has been a beach vacation for her. Perhaps vacation to her IS the beach? We have some time to work this out as a group we decided that we would go in the next school year. Currently it is April of 2022, School here starts in September.
Combining Beach and Adventure
When I think about “the beach” and how to integrate that with adventure vacations that I think she will love – especially in foreign lands… I think about how she learned some Spanish. There are beaches in Latin America that is paired with jungle activities and places to stay in the jungle, but with a beach somewhat nearby. I think about how in Spain there are amazing beaches in Barcelona and while we can go to the beach – we can also go get some culture.
But seeing how this is only the first conversation, we will have to see how it evolves and how I can gently influence her decisions. But overall I am excited to see where we wind up going and what we wind up doing together.