I love road trips but it had been a while since we’d been on a big one. Then this past week we drove 2100 miles halfway across the country with all 6 of us in the minivan. It was 400 miles longer than what google maps told us but only because we chose to forge our own directions in order to see things along the way and travel the road less traveled by semi-trucks.
We had plenty of good snacks, sandwiches, and treats. We had lots of drawing paper and crayons, a few audio books, and even a couple movies which I used like carrots on a string, “When we hit the 300 mile mark we’ll put in a dvd.” We had a great list of games to play in the car thanks to an advanced copy of Suz Lipman’s new book Fed Up with Frenzy which will be available to the general public in August. And we had an open schedule that allowed us to travel on the back roads and scenic highways rather than hightailing it on the freeway. Just adding a couple of days to our schedule meant we could stop when we wanted, pause where we needed, and not worry about getting to point B on any certain date. A luxury for sure.
We ended the journey with a long ferry boat ride into Jersey and a short day of driving which meant that when we came out at the other end of the journey, at my childhood home already filling up with siblings and cousins, we were riding a road trip high, feeling good and feeling like our proverbial cups were quite full. The memories of the long driving days and fighting wiped from our collective memory banks.
As opposed to flying, which is what we have done in year’s past, driving served as a familial incubator, allowing us all to connect, talk, play, argue, resolve, and sit quietly next to each other with no agenda whatsoever. It was freeing, fun, funny, and seemed to give us all the connection we needed after a bit of a frenetic end of school year and start to summer. It allowed us all to see things we’d never seen before, see things in a different light and it gave me a presence that felt like something I could carry with me into my parenting journey.
If you have some time to hit the road with your family, I can’t recommend it enough. It was part geography lesson, part family time, part navigational instruction, part exploration and part restorative relaxation. I’m working on a list of lessons learned and for right now all I can tell you is, if you’re torn between driving and flying and you have the time to drive, by all means DRIVE! It was worth every bit of those 2100 miles. And there was no trouble we encountered that couldn’t be resolved by a few Swedish Fish.