Our children’s fourteenth birthday gifts looked a little different than their previous birthdays. The gifts were not wrapped with a big bow, but words simply scrawled on a piece of paper reading, “Choose one parent, one destination within 300 miles for two nights and use within one year.”

When I was a boy, my parents allowed me and my three brothers on our twelfth birthdays  to choose a place where we wanted to eat, I chose the Space Needle.  Out of all my birthdays, it was probably my most memorable, other than my 16th which everyone forgot, but I am over it now, really.   My oldest son decided taking me to NYC would be a great time and perfectly matched his larger than life personality.  My youngest son, chose his mom as his travel companion,  and focused on a winter sport destination so that he could learn how to snowboard.


While the souvenirs from their trips have gone missing or have been consumed, they fondly remember their experiences, from overlooking Manhattan from the Empire State Building to learning how to snowboard.  They are looking forward to creating more memorable trips!  We are very curious to see what our daughter decides in two years when it is her turn.

We just got rid of a house full of “stuff”, about 75% worth, in order to downsize into our cozy home in Williamsburg, Virginia.  As we move forward in our Life Plan of living a Simple, Relaxed, Generous, and Active lifestyle, we are placing more value on experiences than material things.  It seems our boys can remember what they did for their 14th birthdays than recite what we gave them for all their other birthdays,  which to me is a pretty good confirmation that experiences are pretty valuable. In fact, those special birthday trips   will be my and my wife’s most treasured memories too!

We showed this Tedx Talk by  Dustin Garis to our children the other night to which our 18 year old found very inspiring,  and I hope that you would find it a valuable tool as you build your own memorable life.

For more about Experiences over Things, read this article that shares a bit of the science behind this idea.

In a future post, I will share a few money-saving tips on how we kept these trips within budget.

If I can assist you in Living what Matters, contact me.