Family vacations are pretty much a summer staple.
School is out, the weather is nice and everyone is just itching to get outside and do something.
Not including my honeymoon or a couple day trips with the husband, I haven't been on a family vacation since my senior year of high school.
Growing up, my mom was fantastic about taking my brother and me on grand adventures.
There were trips to various caverns throughout the state, the Strasburg Rail Road ride in Pennsylvania, a visit to my aunt's when she was living in Colorado — as far as quintessential family vacations ago, they're probably at the top. And I loved them.
As my brother and I grew up, however, things began to change.
Our last trip as a trio was to Niagara Falls in the summer of 1999.
I was about to start high school and my brother was falling into what I like to call his grumpy college years phase.
When my mom and I went to Disney World (the best vacation spot ever, by the way) in the fall of 2002, my brother declined to join us.
Why am I rehashing old memories?
Well, in September mom, brother, aunt and I are crossing the big blue ocean to spend some time in France and England — the first family vacation in a decade.
It's a big deal.
I consider my brother and I to be pretty close. We never fought (except a couple times, but I was being a pain), we generally have a good time together and we like most of the same stuff.
It's just that we haven't lived together under the same roof in over 10 years and now we'll be spending more than a week together in close quarters.
Prepare to be annoyed, big brother.
Plus, I get to spend quality time with my mom and aunt, who are two of my favorite people ever.
I'm sure it comes as no surprise from reading past columns of mine that my mother and I are super tight, and my aunt — her sister — is a cross between a big sister and surrogate mom.
Things are most likely to get a little ridiculous when the three of us are together, especially since the two of them will burst out laughing in unison for no real reason.
What's most special about this upcoming vacation is that while this will be a return trip to Europe for my brother and me, it will almost be like a homecoming for my mom and aunt who lived in Paris for several years, and my grandmother and her side of the family tree is from France.
I'm genuinely looking forward to going to places they went when they were even younger than I am now. See the city through their eyes.
We're definitely going to hit up some touristy spots — the Louvre, Versailles, Père Lachaise — but also the places that were special to them.
Really, my brother and I are just along for the ride.
Luckily, all three of my travel companions are fluent in French, so I won't have to say a word.
If someone has to start naming fruits, colors or numbers up to 10, however, I'm their gal.
Barring that, it'll be a fantastic time getting in touch with my family roots.