If you’re fresh from the airport after a Spring Break vacation that recharged your soul, consider yourself doubly blessed. A 2016 survey of 1,000 adults by Travelocity found that trips – specifically romantic get-aways – contribute to a healthy marriage.
And a 1993 study by researchers at Stony Brook University found that couples that spent time doing new and exciting activities together were more satisfied with their relationships. Travel to new destinations certainly qualifies, as do hiking, dancing, theater outings and other activities that might have been part of your Spring Break.
For Winnetka’s Stephanie Hochschild, reading about the family’s travel destination further heightens the experience she shares with her husband and their three children.
“It absolutely makes for a richer experience,” said Hochschild, who owns The Book Stall in Winnetka. “As tourists, most everyone has a travel guide. But reading (about your destination) offers a more in-depth history that stays with you longer, at least in our case. And our books are great mementos of our trips.”
When her children were young, the whole family read the same book; one year it was a volume of Greek mythology before a trip to Greece.
“As we explored, we recognized a lot of the statues we saw, and looking at something you know a little about makes it a lot more interesting,” Hochschild said. “We still have that old dog-eared book of Greek myths.”
Now that they are older, Hochschild’s children read the genre that is of moist interest to them, but each choice is still related to the destination. Last summer, that was Russia.
“We’re all somewhat interested in history, so my husband and I read A Gentleman in Moscow, and then we were able to wander the hotel that was the setting for the (fictional) book,” she recalled. Her three children read The Romanov Sisters, Anna Karenina, and a book about Stalingrad, and they were able to talk about and pursue different aspects of Russian history and culture during the family trip.
One day, father and son explored Russian war memorials, while Hochschild and her two daughters toured art museums.
It sounds wonderful, but my husband and I rarely – if ever – read the same book. Although Hochschild and her husband pass books back and forth all the time, she said people like me can adopt her pre-travel reading habit. Librarians and local book sellers can help.
(Would you believe that about a quarter of American adults haven’t read a book in whole or in part in the past year, whether in print, electronic or audio form? So said a Pew study published last November.)
“Just tell (the librarian or book seller) where you are going because you can look at that place from lots of different angles,” Hochschild said. “If you want to buy a book for your spouse or your kids, too, it’s helpful if you know the last few books that they had read so that the book seller can better help you predict what else they might like.”
Tell me about other family vacation traditions that improved your shared experience, via email to [email protected]