A road trip? Oh yeah! I’m sure many of you have fond memories of those family road trips from when you were a kid. If you are as old as I am, you might even remember choosing the shelf below the back window as your resting place for the long drive. My favourite memories are of the trips in our old paneled station wagon in the 70’s. We would fold the seat down and strategically place the luggage in the back, open up our sleeping bags to pad the “floor” and settle in for a comfy drive. We always brought our pillows so that we could nap, but had ample space to move around and would often play card games to pass the time. Of course, there were no seatbelt laws, so this was a way of life for families back then. It always annoyed me when my dad would pull over to pick-up a hitch hiker, as we’d have to fold the back seat up and this would mess with my “ride”. Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder how children even survived the 70’s!
It seems like now-a-days, everyone is in a big hurry and all about luxury and convenience. We have not travelled extensively, but enough to know there are pros and cons to every type of holiday. We love the all-inclusive resorts (who wouldn’t) and flying south to escape our frigid winters, but there is nothing like a great road trip.
Why a Road Trip?
1. Unplug ~ leave the devices at home and completely unplug at least while on the road. If you need to check email (or write a blog post) at your stop, so be it, but it truly is a chance to unwind from the vices of devices.
2. Bonding ~ there is no better way to connect than within the confines of car. Kids realize pretty quickly that there is no escaping each other and that they might as well make the best of it. There are no toys to fight over or computer times to negotiate. It is good old-fashioned quality time. Time to talk, laugh, explore and have fun together as a family unit.
3. Learning Experience ~ A road trip can be such a great learning experience. From the topography to culture, there is so much to see and explore. There are ample teachable moments along the way.
4. Freedom ~ Road trips give you the freedom to make pit stops, take detours and avoid planning your entire vacation around the traditional tourist traps. The greatest memories are often created while on the road or off the beaten path and away from the big city lights. Don’t get me wrong, we love amusement parks, zoos and other touristy things, but we have found that it’s in our interactions with the locals in the quaint little restaurants we find or towns we visit that the greatest memories are often made. A great example would be our 2011 road trip ~ although we visited Disney and Universal, the kids will often bring up the small incidentals like playing in the fountains in Savannah, Georgia or the lady we met at one of the Bed and Breakfasts.
5. Flexibility ~ You’re off the clock! Although you may have accommodations pre-booked along the way, for the most part you are free to stop whenever and wherever you wish. You have the flexibility to spend more time in the places that strike a chord with you and less in those that don’t impress you as much. You can make last-minute decisions when you see a billboard advertising a place that catches your eye or over hear a conversation that peaks your interest in a Tourist Information center. It truly is an adventure!
6. Avoid the Airports ~ Have you ever had a flight delayed and ended up missing part of your vacation because you were stuck in an airport? We have. There is nothing worse than paying the big bucks for a family vacation and then spending 2 days stuck in airports with crying kids. Try adding a sudden bout of the flu to that. We’ve lived that nightmare and it wasn’t fun. Oh, did I mention that on the same trip our luggage was lost and we were randomly selected for a full security check? I can tell you we weren’t really in the vacation mood when arrived 2 1/2 days late with lost luggage and a wicked stomach flu. With a road trip, the vacation starts the moment you pull out of your driveway. Instant gratification without the hassles.
7. Good tunes! ~ There is nothing like cranking up the tunes with a selection of your favourite music. It is a great time to dig up the old hits and teach your kids about some of the greats from your own childhood.
For many, the thought of packing your clan into a vehicle and spending endless hours on the road can be less than appealing and in some regards almost frightening. You might be thinking that a road trip would in fact be a source of human torture. Like most moms, I can become exasperated by the constant battles in the back seat. If we can’t make it to piano lessons with out the kids fighting, how on earth could we spend hours on end crossing a country? I can’t explain it, but can say that there is something magical that happens when you embark on a well planned road trip. When the kids are part of the planning and have something to look forward to, it is amazing how the fighting is virtually non-existent (at least in our family). I too was pretty nervous about the long days in the car. I remember worrying about having to listen to arguing and fighting for hours on end as well as the constant nagging …. Are we almost there? How much longer? For us, it just didn’t happen. Our huge trip in 2011, was by far our best vacation ever. The kids have been begging us for another road trip and we are currently trying to make some plans for the coming summer.
If you are thinking of planning a road trip this summer, be on the look out for my new post with tips on planning a road trip.