The Great Escape: Making Time To Connect

Words by Javacia Harris Bowser

Photos by Bryan Johnson

This year I will travel more.

Many people make this promise to themselves every January, along with resolutions to eat right and exercise more. Then life gets in the way, and by Valentine’s Day these goals are tucked away like holiday decorations.

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If anyone has a valid excuse for abandoning a resolution to travel more, it’s hip-hop recording artist Lecrae. The chart-topping rapper is often zipping from city to city performing his unique brand of Southern hip-hop that reflects his Christian faith and keeps him relatable. When he’s not on the road or on a stage, he’s in the studio working on solo projects or collaborating with other artists.

Despite his busy schedule, Lecrae makes time for three special vacations each year:  one with his family, one with his wife, and one with his closest friends. Making these trips happen each year is a top priority. Lecrae says, “If the president himself called and said, ‘I want to have a meeting with you,’ I would have to say, ‘I’m sorry; my kids and I are going to Disney World.’”

Lecrae admits he didn’t always have this attitude about spending quality time with his family and friends. “My schedule was so hectic and chaotic that I was finding it frustrating and difficult to get time with my wife, with my kids, and with my close friends,” Lecrae says.“There was always something going on and I was putting a lot of pressure on them to adjust to my schedule instead of me adjusting to theirs.”

So he decided to “reverse engineer” his schedule. Knowing he wanted to take these three special vacations each year, Lecrae started scheduling the trips far in advance.

“So no matter what came up, it was already blocked off,” he explains.

This practice of intentional travel, which Lecrae has been committed to for about eight years, has done more than bring him closer to his friends and family; it has also taught him the art of rest. In a world that romanticizes and even glamorizes busyness, Lecrae has learned to give himself a break.

All Things Work Together

Last year, Lecrae planned a family trip to Los Angeles to visit Universal Studios and several museums, but mostly to just relax. “We rented a house in Ladera Heights and it was great because we had the comforts of home so my kids could wake up and go outside in the backyard and play,” says Lecrae, a proud father of three. “I taught them how to make pancakes and how to tie their shoes. It was just a good time being intentional as a family.”

Lecrae says the key to a successful vacation is to set clear and realistic expectations, a lesson he learned the hard way during a trip to Paris with his wife, Darragh. “My expectation was romance and holding hands and looking at the Eiffel Tower and eating these great meals,” he says. But when they arrived, the weather was bitterly cold. “She was like, ‘I do not want to walk in the cold holding your hand. It’s freezing!’” Lecrae recalls. “And I couldn’t read the menu so I couldn’t order something amazing when I was struggling even to communicate with the waiter.”

After this experience, he decided to focus on what matters most during these vacations.   

“Just be honest and transparent and enjoy each other’s company,” Lecrae says. “Let everything else fall into place.”

Lecrae and his wife were finally able to enjoy the romantic Paris vacation he’d hoped for—only much closer to home in Alys Beach, Florida. “We spent four days away from the kids and away from anybody else,” he says. “We got a chance to just date and be kids and enjoy each other’s company, to go to the beach and just walk around. Alys Beach is just a beautiful environment.”

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Real Talk

Along with managing expectations, Lecrae says being intentional makes for fulfilling trips too.  Even his guys’ trips have a plan and a purpose. On these vacations, Lecrae and his friends usually take one day to get acclimated to the area, one day to do something adventurous, one day to party, and one day for deep conversation. “The conversations usually surround our financial and business goals, and we share advice or insight on how to make each other better in those particular areas. Or we share struggles as dads and husbands and how we can help each other stay accountable to become better versions of ourselves,” Lecrae explains.

After the Music Stops

When the vacation is over and Lecrae must return to the daily grind of life, the effort to stay connected to family and friends doesn’t stop. He also has a plan to combat the #nodaysoff mindset often perpetuated by social media. He calls this plan D.W.A.—a daily diversion, a weekly withdrawal, and an annual abandon. “When I’m not on the road, I do breakfast and take my kids to school every day,” Lecrae says. After school, if he doesn’t have to work late, he spends his evening connecting with his wife and kids over dinner, being careful to eliminate distractions. “The phone goes away from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.,” he says.

Lecrae has learned that it’s OK to put the screens away and unplug, and he’s teaching his children the same lesson.

Each week he tries to spend time with his friends.

“I think a lot of people miss that. That’s what they miss about high school or college—hangout time,” he says. “If you don’t schedule it, it’s not going to happen.” The idea of an “annual abandon” is what led to the three special vacations he takes each year.

Just as Lecrae has cleverly created his own style of hip-hop, he’s bucked both trend and tradition again by developing his own rituals and finding his own rhythm. Lecrae’s daily diversions, weekly withdrawals, and annual abandons remind him of something many of us often forget: how to truly rest.

“I need to abandon everything,” he says, “so I can remind myself that the world will still go on if I take a break.”