Families choose between the new and the tried-and-true when they travel.
Summer vacation always starts the same way for the Barber family of New Albany. They drive to Hilton Head Island, find their rented home on the peaceful Sea Pines Plantation, unload the car, relax at the house and then head out to Pool Bar Jim's where they find familiar company from years of visits.
Coleen and Zach Barber each spent their summers as children in Hilton Head, S.C. They have vacationed there each June for the last 12 years. They got engaged in Hilton Head and now take their daughters, 4-year-old Campbell and 3-year-old Paisley.
For the Barber family, the familiarity of the destination is what they find the most relaxing.
"In the morning we wake up and go to the same bakery then walk over to the pier, eat and watch dolphins," said Coleen Barber. "We go to the beach for the day. Around 2 p.m., we take a nap. Then, at night we go out to a restaurant."
But while the Barbers are relaxing on day one of their vacation, Hayley Deeter and her children are landing someplace new. Always.
"We never go anywhere twice," Deeter said.
Most recently, Deeter, her son Paul, 16, and daughter Amanda, 18, visited Honduras. Deeter went cage-less shark diving with Amanda and experienced the exhilaration of more than a dozen 8-foot-long Caribbean reef sharks brushing past them in open water. Paul passed on the sharks, but found his adventure while diving at the site of a ship wreck.
"Vacation is filled with curiosities like what species of fish will we see and how many countries will we see and what dives will we see," Deeter said. "To me, that's life. That's the kind of memories they will share forever."
Deeter is a Certified Rescue Diver and her children have acquired their own passion for extreme adventure on vacation.
"I am able to see things that not every family gets to see," Amanda Deeter said. "It appeals to my sense of adventure. There's so much to the world outside our door."
Back at Hilton Head, the Barbers settle into their week. The family looks forward to seeing the same waiters they have known for years at The Crazy Crab restaurant and know Tuesday nights are reserved for fireworks from the Disney Resort. They love the idea of starting vacation from the moment they arrive instead of spending days getting the lay of the land.
"You only get one week a year that you work for all year long," Coleen Barber said. "It is low key. It is relaxing."
Even details like knowing where items are in the local grocery store contribute to the relaxed environment that makes this the perfect vacation for their family.
Meanwhile, by mid-week, the Deeter family is still going strong with adventure. Next up is a 10-mile-long zipline tour above the rain-forest canopy, zooming past exotic wildlife and island palms.But does this family ever relax?
"We do relax," Deeter said. "Absolutely, because diving is exhausting. We spend about one-third of vacation doing some kind of adventure and about two-thirds eating and relaxing."
AAA Travel Agency spokesperson Kimberly Schwind says there is no one-size-fits-all family vacation plan.
"We see families book everything from day trips to Cedar Point to cruises to Disney," said Schwind. "Some families go as far as Europe."
Regardless of your family's preferred vacation style, it seems most families have one thing in common: getting the most bang for their buck. AAA encourages families to look at the value of the overall vacation versus the upfront costs. This is one reason that all-inclusive resorts and cruises are popular.
The travel industry is chock full of diverse family vacations.AAA recommends including everyone in the planning and coming up with a custom-made vacation that fits your family.
"It is important toask kids want they want to do on vacation and where they want to go," said Schwind.
By the end of vacation, the Barbers head home feeling relaxed with their custom license plate PBJHHI (Pool Bar Jim's Hilton Head Island) and having accrued another year of memories. Meanwhile, the Deeter family packs their scuba gear and shark teeth and starts planning their next great adventure together.
In the end, vacation isabout creating memories and these families have built plenty of them.