How To Write An Essay About My Summer Vacation

Summer break is a great time to kick back, relax and enjoy yourself and, if you’re lucky, to go on an awesome trip! But how can you translate your amazing vacation into a narrative essay for English class or work it to fit a common application prompt? Here’s some tips to help you out:

Save Mementos From Your Summer

Even if you’re not the sentimental type, make sure to document your summer travels. Take pictures, write diary entries, save train stubs. This is the best way to ensure that you’ll remember your summer well enough to look back and write about it later.

Write an Outline Before Writing Your Essay

Regardless of whether you spent your summer break in Madison, Wisconsin or Madrid, Spain, you should plan out what you’re going to write before diving in. Make a list of what you’ve done over the summer so that you can later narrow down a focus for the essay itself. Keep in mind that the best essay topics aren’t always on the most exciting activities an essay about getting stuck in traffic on the way to the airport on the way to Denver could work better than an essay on hiking the Grand Canyon and looking out at the incredible view.

Be Specific

Since you’re going to keep a record of your trip and come up with an outline before writing your essay, you should be able to put some detail into your essay. Be as specific as possible when it comes to your word choice. If you’re talking about some gelato that you ate in Italy, don’t say that it was “delicious.” Instead, say that it was “creamy and chocolatey, with a note of vanilla.”

Focus on Feelings About Your Trip, Not What You Did

If you spent the summer on the beach in Cape Cod, you shouldn’t write about what you did. You should write instead about how you felt while there. An essay that reads “I went to beach, then had lobster for dinner” is not quite as exciting as one that goes, “As I went for a walk on the beach, I thought about how lucky I was to be able to enjoy nature.” Feelings translate better into text than events, and you should try to place those feelings into context.

Stick to Writing About a Small Moment

With any essay you write especially a short one it’s important to focus a narrow moment in time. Don’t write about your entire week in Paris. Instead, write about the moment you got lost in the city at midnight and fumbled your way home in the dark. You don’t have to pick a particularly glamorous moment from your trip, but you should pick one that meant something to you.

Edit Your Essay Carefully

The shorter the essay, the more important precision is. Regardless of length, make sure to carefully read over what you’ve written to make sure every sentence conveys the message you most want displayed. The editing process matters just as much as the writing process, even if it seems less so.

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The other day as I walked by my kids, who were, as usual, watching an episode of The Office with one eye and looking at something on another iDevice with the other one, it struck me that summer is almost over and this is pretty much what they’ve been doing for the past 60 days. 

Super impressive, right?

I imagined their new teachers asking them what they did over the summer and the only answer of real value that they’d be able to give would be, “flossed.”

When I taught fourth grade (way back when cell phones were the size of bread loaves before we really knew what Clinton did with his cigars) I’d have my students write a letter on the first day of school telling me how they spent their summer.

Real original, I’m aware, but it gave me a little bit of insight into what kinds of kids my new students were by letting me know what they liked to do and how they spent their non-school time. 

So the other day I got to wondering what my girls’ letters would look like if they’d been students in my class.

And what I came up with sure as hell would have given me insight.

What I Did on my Summer Vacation

by my kids

This summer was awesome. I did a ton of cool things and learned a lot.  

In June I got a new SIMS game where you can make mermaids and go scuba diving in the ocean! I spent lots of time every day making new characters and watching them get mauled by sharks. It was super educational. Who knew that sharks are just as likely to attack a mermaid as they are a human? And that mermaids bleed red blood? I also designed some cool houses. Like 183 of them. Since I’m thinking of one day designing giant houses with many rooms that do not connect and backyards that contain every recreational item there possibly is, it was time well spent. 

As you can imagine, social media took up a lot of my time. I made sure to keep up with #selfiesunday, #mancandymonday, #transformationtuesday and #throwbackthursday every week on Instagram, and also found time to post lots and lots of photo collages of cute baby animals. I had fun making absurdly short and meaningless videos on Vine and Instagram, and even more fun becoming proficient at the app “VideoStar”, where I made a bunch of funny videos of myself singing along to my favorite songs. I also Snapchatted myself doing all kinds of interesting things like drinking frappuccinos, staring at my phone screen, and holding my cat. #technology

It was exhausting keeping up with the boys from One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer as they made their way across the United States on their tour, but I managed to keep track of them 24/7 by following their constant Twitter updates. And even though I went to their concert and got to see them LIVE, I still found it necessary and an important use of my time to watch fuzzy YouTube videos and look at pictures that other people took at the concerts in different cities until my eyes bled.  

I also kept up with Desiree’s compelling and dramatic love life on The Bachelorette each week. I learned a lot about insincere and dishonest guys, tight abs, and that settling for second best is perfectly fine if the guy is offering you a four carat diamond ring. 

In mid-July our good family friends came to visit and my friend Abby introduced me to The Office. I was instantly obsessed! We watched most of the first season together and then I binge-watched the rest of the entire series in about three weeks. That’s 201 episodes! I was proud of my stamina and perseverance! 

I caught up on a lot of sleep this summer. Even though I stayed up until the wee hours practically every night, I slept in until 10 or 11 a.m. Don’t worry! And the best thing about sleeping until almost lunchtime is that you can eat half a box of Reese’s Puffs in one sitting and it counts as both breakfast and lunch (and if you tweet that out you get a lot of retweets!). 

So as you can see, my summer was very exciting and productive. Other than having a totally fun time, I really learned a lot about myself: 11 hours is the perfect amount of sleep for me, I want to marry a guy just like Jim, and I take a really good selfie with my cat. 


As you can see, they’re gonna make a super positive first impression in a couple of weeks. 


While everything in the above “essay” is (sadly) true, my girls did spend time doing a few other things this summer: they read a ton of books, tubed on the lake with each other every weekend, wrote new stories as well as continued working on books they started writing last summer, hung out with friends, hung out with me and their dad, and, most importantly—as next summer my 17yo will be flying the coop and going to college—they spent quality time with each other. And if that QT involves laughing hysterically at The Office together for hours on end, then that’s just fine with me. 

Okay, fine, it doesn’t. But it will bring you welcome distraction from whatever it is you are currently avoiding doing by being on the computer.  

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