When Vacation Changes You

Every year, my family and I make our annual trip to Maui, Hawaii.  It’s where Sloan and I got married many years ago and now a place where we gather as a family to relax and enjoy just being alive.

What’s special about trips to places like Maui is the opportunity to slow down, be outside, play in nature, eat simple meals, and focus on what’s right in front of you versus planning out your week or month.

We all have our rituals on vacation, and one of mine is morning runs on the beach.  This year, my 9-year old son joined me and in being present, we discovered something unusual.  As we run along the beach, we often examine what the tide has brought in – typically plants like kelp and if we’re lucky, small animal shells.  Along with these expected items, we also found lots of little pieces of washed up plastic. The remnants of what we use in our daily lives were being given back to us by the ocean.  It was alarming, and sad, and created so many questions for his budding brain.  We began to see the same things each day – straws, chapstick tubs, plastic dental picks, and many things that had been worked in the water to create a new, undistinguishable shape.

I had never seen it before and searched for why I was finding these items.  Of course, the answers were in front of me, and somehow in everyday life, I missed them. “The Oceans are Drowning in Plastic – And No One’s Paying Attention.”

The experience changed us.  Along with a morning clean-up, my son began refusing straws and plastic cups, and I began taking an immediate hard look around me to see where we could cut down on our plastic habit. I can’t look around without seeing the outcome of each product and item in my home, workplace or life.

My kids will tell me when I’m “talking too much about plastic,” and for them I’ll turn concern into an action that keeps our oceans, food supply and bodies safe from plastic.

This year, our family vacation changed me. It gave me a focus and new purpose. Most of the time if feels good, but admittedly, it also feels a little hard, and sad.  Pushing through that is my passion to not sit idly by, and the memory from my vacation.

We’ll be sharing more insights and ideas in the coming weeks in a series on plastic that we promise will positively shape our habits and make us agents of change.

How has travel changed you? Have you experienced a life-altering vacation?


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