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Memories Are Greater Than Stuff

Before I became a dad, I met a couple in Los Angeles that loved traveling. Almost every month they visited a new place, and I was completely fascinated by them. No, they weren’t two rich, childless people who had nothing but money and free time to spend. We’re talking about an everyday, middle class couple with two young children.

One weekend they would take the kids to San Francisco. Another weekend they would drive to Arizona. When they wanted to go all out on a vacation, they would take a family cruise to an exotic location. But here’s the thing: all of this costs money. How could this typical all-American family afford to travel so much?

And that’s exactly what I asked them.

The dad looked at me and smiled, “Because we only spend our money on creating memories. We don’t have the newest gadgets, cable television, or fancy cars – but the time we spend together while traveling is so incredibly valuable. As a parent you’ll realize that memories are greater than stuff.”

Memories are greater than stuff. I’ll never forget that line. Why? Because it’s so true.

Now that I’m a dad, I splurge less on stuff and more on creating memories. I mean, think about it – will our kids remember that we bought them $20 shoes instead of $120 shoes? Or will they remember that we used the money we saved to go an amazing vacation? I can’t speak for everyone, but I can’t remember what kind of clothes or shoes I wore when I was a kid, but I remember every family vacation as vividly as I remember what I ate for breakfast this morning. That’s because the strongest memories are forged through strong emotions (happiness, love, fear, sadness, etc.)

When Carnival offered to take my family on an 8-day eastern Caribbean cruise, I didn’t hesitate to say “yes” because I knew the opportunity to create lifelong memories with my family would be there. Speaking of strong emotions, I remember how freaked out my daughter was when I asked her to go down the waterslide on the beautiful Carnival Sunshine.


After a few hugs and a pep talk from Daddy, she finally decided to go down the kiddie slide and was completely overjoyed afterwards.

Little girl laughing as she gets up from the water slide on Carnival cruise, link to Youtube video

The noteworthy part of this story is my daughter still talks about that experience and smiles when she thinks of the fun she had on that cruise. Do you think she (or any kid) would remember anything about the stuff we buy them? Probably not. And if they did, the emotions evoked wouldn’t compare to the emotions that come from the things we do with them.

Memories are greater than stuff.

I’m thankful for that man who gave me such a valuable piece of advice as I navigate through the oftentimes crazy world of parenting. If there’s a downside to all of this, it’s that my daughter constantly asks when we will go on another cruise to create some more memories. But hey, that’s the price you have to pay when you’re having fun.

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind.