“What are you doing this summer?” my friend asked over the sound of crashing waves and giggling children. It was a windy, cold day on the beach, but spring break only comes once a year, and we weren’t spending it inside.
“We’re thinking about a road trip. I think we might leave Tallahassee at the beginning of June and not come home until right before July 4th.”
My friend’s ears perked up – I’ve noticed that most people have perky ears upon mention of a “road trip.” There’s something about the elements of discovery, adventure, and not being limited to a schedule that are just so….tempting. I believe it satisfies a deep-rooted, nomadic urge to get out and explore. Sort of using modern means to feed the needs of our inner early human.
On a more present-day level, there are loads of reasons to take a road trip. Do any of these resonate with you?
The decision was made and we were Road Trip bound! Because I love giving things away, click here to download your free Road Trip Planning handout with questions to help you plan your own road trip. Some of the questions we discussed were:
Planning a trip like this can be just as exciting as taking it. As we sank our teeth into these questions and the details started to come together, we got a little help from the universe.
My hairdresser told me she was leaving Tallahassee – moving to Portland, ME. After my initial shock and crushing grief upon receipt of such news, an addition was made to our plans to include a stop in Portland. Any excuse to get my hair done with my girl!
A few weeks later I opened a copy of Family Fun magazine. An article about summer travel featured the Wild Walk in Tupper Lake, NY, a boardwalk up in the trees in the Adirondack Mountains. This was a place we had to see, and as fate would have it, was an easy stop to work in the day we drove from Pennsylvania to Vermont.
We researched (okay, by “we” I mean “I”), contacted family and friends, and made plans with work to come up with an itinerary. Is an outline necessary for a road trip? That depends on you. For me, taking a trip with my kids without plans is out of the question. We all needed a destination in mind when we woke up in the morning.
Here’s our list of where we would be headed an on which days:
June 7 – Tallahassee to Charlotte, NC
June 8 – Ambler, PA
June 12 – Tupper Lake, NY to visit The Wild Center, then continue to Coventry, VT
June 15 – Burlington, VT
June 18 – Steuben, ME
June 23 – Portland, ME, then on to Cape Cod, MA
June 27 – Concord, MA
June 28 – Ambler, PA
June 29 – Charlotte, NC
July 2 – Tallahassee, FL
By the end of May, all of the travel plans were made. Places to stay were all booked and the kids had a list of what kind of clothes they should pack. The next step was to plan for being in the car for six to eight hours per day.
What did we take with us?
Each of my kids had to fit all of their belongings into a bag. That was the only rule I imposed on their selections. This was to prevent a backpack stuffed with their biggest teddy bears accompanied by a handful of Legos and colored pencils with scraps of paper shoved into pockets. Pillow, blanket, and one stuffed animal could just be put in the car, no bag required.
Once we hit the road, it was time to enjoy the efforts of our planning – and did we ever! We were open to trying new experiences and seeing new places. And spending lots of time with people we love. We were offline as much as possible. Present for conversations. Ready and willing to get our hands dirty.
Really and truly, this Road Trip with my kids was possibly the best summer trip I’ve ever had. A huge thank you to all the people who made it special by taking us in, visiting with us, or meeting up with us for an adventure!
The original plan was for 26 days. We didn’t make it that long. We switched course and instead of Charlotte on the way home, we hit Asheville, meeting up with some buddies from Tallahassee.
In that chunk of 24 days, we saw 63 people we know and love, slept in ten different different cities or towns, and had 38 experiences that were new for the kids – and often for me too! Here’s our list:
The experiences on this list are special not because of what they are, but because of where we were and who we experienced them with. The circumstances will never be exactly the same – that’s what makes every day special.
We have material to write about in our journals, photos to hang on our family photo wall, and stories to tell about the things we did and the people we saw.
I’ve been using this trip to teach my kids about the people that make up their family, and to give them the experience of seeing just how much of it they have. There are people we know literally all over the country, and they are, for the most part, accessible to us, if we are willing to take the time to hit the road and visit.
The journal writer living inside me is super satisfied with this trip. I love having something to write about.
This trip though, wasn’t just about making memories. It was about taking the trip simply because I wanted to take it. Sometimes life starts to feel like a whole lot of shoulds. A break from the litany of tasks and everyday responsibilities is necessary. So, this summer was about doing what we wanted simple because we wanted to do it, and not because we had too.
While planning this trip, taking the journey, and upon returning, I’ve been grateful for the support and encouragement I’ve received. It’s really helped me to appreciate the magnitude of a trip like this, especially considering my husband was with us only about half the time. That’s an entirely different blog post! How to be on your own with your kids and still have a great time!
What Road Trip would you love to take? What would have to happen in your life to make that trip something that happens for you?
Click here to download your Road Trip Planning handout and use it to start planning your own adventure. Maybe even talk about it at dinner tonight. I wonder where your kids would want to go?
Sara Marchessault is a writer, publisher, teacher, and mom who is on a mission to increase joy on the planet. Through the practice of self-reflection, we become aware of what brings us joy and what does not, and we make choices to move forward or stand still. Journal writing is a powerful reflection tool that can help any of us move forward, even in the darkest of times. For ideas on how you can get the benefits of journal writing without always keeping a traditional journal, check out Sara’s book, Beyond Pen & Paper: 33 Experiments in Journaling.