Why annual family vacations can strengthen, define a home

  • Vacations bring family members together for important quality time that can lead to positive bonding and memories.
  • Rituals like how one family has been visiting the Outer banks for 50 years help families define who they are across generations.
  • At the end of the day, it’s about the time together, not a “lavish vacation.”

At the end of each summer, Michele Guay Sullivan, 63, packs her car and drives the eight hours from her home in Virginia to Ocracoke Island, a small, undeveloped island in the Outer Banks, North Carolina. There, she will meet up with 30 members of her family, from her nieces to grandchildren, for one to two weeks of fun in the sun.

This is her annual family vacation, which her family has attended for almost 50 years.

The first time Sullivan went to the island, she was 14 and tagged along with her older sister and brother-in-law, who were going on a fishing trip, as a babysitter for her niece. (Her now-adult niece brings her own teenage children to Okracoke now.) Since then, Sullivan and her family go to the island every August.

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