You might remember member Carmelo S. as last year’s third-place Shoot for the Stars winner, but this year he’s our second-place winner for our “Wild and Wacky” category. He titled this photo “Spider-Man Jump,” so we wanted to know where that was from. And in doing so, Carmelo shared some fabulous tips on how travel helps his family stay so close together. If you have children, this is a fabulous read.
VQ: Where did you take this photo?
Carmelo: Balboa Park in San Diego. We were in California for three weeks that trip. We spent a week in San Diego, a week in Los Angeles and week up north in San Francisco. We did Sequoia National Park with the giant sequoia trees. It was neat. When you go out west like that, you have to make it a long trip. There’s so much to see.
VQ: What did you do in San Diego?
Carmelo: Balboa Park is huge: It’s got the San Diego Zoo, the Fleet Science Center, the Natural History Museum, the Museum of Art, some botanical gardens and tons of other stuff. That day, we just hit the science center and Natural History Museum. We were headed back to the car and that’s when they wanted to do the “Spider-Man jump.” My wife took two or three pictures and we just picked the best one.
VQ: What’s the story of the “Spider-Man jump?”
Carmelo: When my kids were little, they would hold onto my hand, like Spider-Man holds his webs, and I would swing them. As they get bigger, it gets harder to swing them with one hand, which is why my oldest kids are on the sides. I can still get the littlest one by myself, but I need help with the other one (laughs).
VQ: Even with your winning photo from last year, it seems you like to make photos fun. How do you capture those moments?
Carmelo: Sometimes, something catches me. For instance, I’ll see my kids looking off in the distance. I have a great one of my daughter, who had just won a Mario Bros. hat, and my other daughter holding her hand walking down the park. It’s one of my favorite pictures. You just don’t know what moments will catch you. Getting action pictures and the kids being silly on camera, keeping them in memory, those are great. They’ll always see this picture and remember “Spider-Man jump.”
VQ: How many trips have you taken with Vacation Quest?
Carmelo: We try to take around five or six weeks a year. My job gives me five weeks of vacation a year, so my wife will sometimes take the kids or I will work remotely to get an extra week here and there. We take full advantage of the membership. We love it.
VQ: Your family seems very tight-knit. How do you stay so close?
Carmelo: I had a friend years ago who didn’t have a great relationship with her kids, so she asked what I did. I told her I just kept being silly with them. I try to tease my kids and hang out with them. With my oldest kids (my daughter’s 15 and my son just went to college at 18), I’ve never had those horror stories you have with teenagers. I just try to show love and spend time with them.
My son, even in his senior year, would come to my room at the end of the night and we would chit-chat. We were in Wildwood, New Jersey, this summer and my daughter held my hand. You don’t see many 15-year-olds holding her dad’s hand walking down a pier.
VQ: What do you want your kids to take away from these trips?
Carmelo: If you find things that the kids like to do, you have a close relationship. We’re living the dream of what people want in a family. A lot of it is because we travel. And we do it inexpensively compared to most, even though we take a lot. We use the membership, we use frequent flier miles, we drive – a combination of things. If we aren’t going anywhere during a major holiday, they ask why and where we are going next.
I’m a big believer in travel clubs. I don’t know why people don’t take advantage of them. They’re reasonable and not overpriced. I’m grateful I still get to travel, while many people put it off until it’s too late. I’m still young enough that I can pick my kids up like that.
That’s wonderful advice, Carmelo, we’re so happy for you and your family! We’re believers of the power of travel, so it’s great to see real life examples.
Photos courtesy of member Carmelo S.