Family road trips are a lot of work! Packing, un-packing, and planning all the details that make road trips fun takes hours. Then there are all the things that can go wrong. I always make sure our van is in top condition before we leave, but that doesn’t prevent problems like kids throwing up. One of my kids threw up ALL DAY on our most recent road trip. Yet I plan on taking at least one more family road trip this summer. Why do I do it? Keep reading.
Why You Need to Make Time for a Family Road Trip This Summer
Already have plans for a family road trip this summer? Awesome! If not, keep reading. Road trips don’t have to be elaborate, and there is still time to plan. Taking a family road trip this summer can be as simple as visiting that place a couple hours away that you have always wanted to see but just haven’t prioritized.
Road Trips Build Awareness
One of my earliest childhood memories is of the first BIG road trip I went on with my family. We drove from our small town in Utah Valley clear down to the southern tip of Mexico. I was four years old. In retrospect it was pretty incredible that my parents took their five young children on that trip – particularly since neither one of them spoke a word of Spanish. The trip was hardly perfect (we all got food poisoning at one point), but it transformed my life and makes up some of my fondest childhood memories. When the 1985 Mexico Earthquake struck a few months later, I was devastated. That single trip taught me to love Mexico.
Our cross-country road trip in 2013 was not quite as adventurous as the one my parents took me on, but I know that my kids see the United States and Canada differently for the drive. They experienced some of the diversity of these two countries, both geographically and culturally, in a way that simply isn’t possible through media or textbooks.
Road Trips Promote Family Bonding
Modern-day life is busy. Even if tasks are complete (and are they ever, really?), we are surrounded by multi-media distractions. Family road trips create hours of time where we can’t do much besides sit and talk. Road trips create space for important family discussions that get left on teh back burne at home. Road trips make room for silly low-key family activities like this road trip scavenger hunt from my friend Natalie at Planet Smarty.
We brought books, toys, and – yes – even a DVD player (we used it once) and tablet (we used it twice, at the end of the trip) on our cross-country road trip. I like to be prepared. Most of the time, though, Mike and I talked to each other and the kids talked amongst themselves. It was really cool to listen to seven-year-old Emma and five-year-old Johnny talk for hours in the back seat, and four-year-old Lily made up all sorts of entertaining games to entertain one-year-old Anna in the middle row!
Road Trips Allow for Flexibility
It might sound strange, but when we moved from Massachusetts to California I found it easier to face six long days of driving than a flight across the country with four small children. Sure, we would have survived the flight – we did fine on a nearly-as-long flight to Florida – but it would have been something to get through and be done with, not to mention that we would arrive in California a week or two ahead of our minivan. I have no problem living in Edinburgh for a month without a car, but California without a car is stressful. Driving, we were able to stop and see things and even tweak our route to adapt to our interests and needs. I crossed Niagara Falls off my bucket list, and it was incredible! We also changed our route a few times to avoid traffic.