I truly thought this was going to be a test in patience. I remember when my girls were younger and we made plans to travel. So much of our time was consumed with meeting their needs while trying to retain some enjoyment in the vacation. The amazing thing about traveling with adolescents is that they don’t require as much attention as they did when they were younger. Surprisingly, they actually enjoyed the experience of the vacation better than they did when they were children. Let me take an opportunity to share some of the things I learned on our road trip this summer.
This is the first time that we have really tried to include the girls in choosing our daily activities. I also think it was the first time that we didn’t engage in a battle if they didn’t like our suggestions. While we were visiting Mesa Verde, both my husband and I wanted to take a tour that required climbing latters, being in confined places, and involved a great deal of walking. The girls were okay with the walking but we learned that both suffered from a bit of claustrophobia. Instead we opted for a self-paced tour that my husband and I had taken 14 years before. It was really nice to reminisce about that trip while making new memories with our girls during the current trip. I learned that vacations are not just about what I want as a parent. It’s the girls’ vacation as well and they have a right to enjoy the experience.
We always stay in hotels during the actual road trip. We always try to find a facility that has an indoor pool and continental breakfast. The breakfast helps prepare for a day of driving and makes budgeting for food a lot easier. Once we have reached our destination, we switch over to vacation homes for lodging. This is perfect for our family because it gives off the feeling of being at home. Once we have arrived, we stop at the local store and stock up on meals that I have planned for our stay. We keep it super simple. At this point, the only meal that I usually purchase out is lunch. This gives us an opportunity to sample some local fare and sometimes eating out locally can be part of the adventure.
I really tried to encourage my clan to travel light this year. Our oldest definitely deserves an award for the achievement of family minimalist. One of the blessings of renting a vacation home is that we always have an opportunity to do laundry. Each of us were allowed to bring a duffle bag or backpack. After seeing how we packed, I know we can make it on a longer, farther vacation. Minimizing our things also impacted our stress level. The less stuff you have, the less likely you are to leave it behind. I can’t stress enough the need to minimize your expectations of the trip. I found that just letting go of all my lofty expectations really freed me to enjoy the trip. I remember spending an afternoon on the porch with my daughter practicing the art of selfies. Some of the pictures we took were hilarious. I know that we created memories that we can look back on and get a good chuckle out of. I found that letting go eased tension and helped me to really see the value of the relationships I have with my family.
So I encourage each of you to take time to travel. Seek opportunities to see the beauty of our blessed creator. I can’t tell you how many times I felt in awe of a mountain or a field of beautiful, colorful flowers. I was mesmerized by the knowledge that He has imparted upon us to create communities and connections with our natural surroundings. Sharing these experiences with those you hold dear is a very beautiful and rewarding thing.