Here are a few of my favorite summer vacation memories

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By Christopher Elliott

What are your favorite summer vacation memories? Riding horses in Wyoming? Browsing the farmers market in Montreal? Running through the ocean surf in Sarasota?

This week, I want to share some of my favorite memories from 17 years on the road with my family.

For those of you just tuning in: I started my career as a travel writer many moons ago (I was an editor at Travel Weekly in 19 hundred — cough, cough — something). Then I saw the light and became a consumer advocate. But when we had kids, we decided to return to the road, and we haven’t looked back.

I take lots of pictures of them. I’m sure that one day, my kids will beg me to unpublish them. In the meantime, enjoy these photos:

Here are some of the author's favorite summer vacation memories .
Erysse Elliott at the Atwater Market in Montreal in 2014.

A day at the Marché in Montreal

We love Montreal, and the best part of it is the farmers market. Here’s my daughter, Erysse, admiring the produce at Atwater Market. Well, maybe “admire” is not quite the right word. She was overwhelmed by all the fruit. Interesting fact: These farmers don’t irradiate their fruit, so eat it quickly after you buy it. We tried to save some raspberries, and they grew white fuzz overnight.

These are some of the author's favorite summer vacation memories.
Erysse and Iden Elliott enjoy lunch on the train in 2013.

Rail riding in Alberta

Canada is one of our favorite destinations. And there’s no better way to see Canada than by train. Via Rail will remind you of the best European trains. The service is excellent, and they also seemed to like kids — even mine. We haven’t taken the train across Canada yet, but we did make the drive a few years ago during the late summer, and we had a blast. (Related: Remote, wild and devilishly subversive: Here’s why Americans are coming back to Tasmania.)

Summer vacation memories from the author
Erysse Elliott tries to Jet ski in 2012 in Andes, N.Y.

Where’s the “on” button for this thing?

Four-year-old girl. Jet ski. What could possibly go wrong? (Fortunately, not much. She never found the “on” switch.) This shot was taken in upstate New York, where the kids’ grandparents live. There’s no place like the Catskills in the summer. We have many happy memories of hiking, fishing and swimming in the pond. (Here’s what you need to know before planning your next summer vacation.)

The author's children in Oahu -- one of his favorite summer vacation memories.
Iden and Aren on Oahu’s North Shore in 2014.

Aloha from Oahu

We’ve been to Oahu so often that people think we’re Hawaiian. The North Shore is the perfect place to hang out and watch surfers. As a nervous dad, I’m always a little afraid that one of the kids will run into the waves and get sucked out into the ocean. So we keep a polite distance from the water. Hey Iden, over here! (Related: It’s summer! Go have an adventure. Here’s how.)

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The author's sons on the beach in Florida -- a favorite memory.
Iden and Aren in Sarasota, Fla., in 2011

Signing off from Sarasota

Sometimes a photo can capture a moment perfectly. This one does. It’s my two boys, Aren and Iden, at the end of the summer in Sarasota, Fla. I wish I could go back in time. I would tell them that no matter what happens during the next few tumultuous years, I’ll be there for them. I’d give them a hug. And I’d sit down next to them and watch the sunset.

You know what they say? You only have 18 summers with your kids. I’m nearing the end of my 18. If you’re reading this and you have kids or grandkids or even a beloved animal companion, make the most of it.

Get out there and create some memories.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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