I have twin boys who are four-and-a-half. They’re a mess. Chaos trails behind them as they run. People have equated them to an actual tornado. It’s impressive.
They are raucous and loud – not the ideal road trip partners. In fact, driving to the grocery store ten minutes away is a test in patience and control on my part. I‘m pretty sure I’ve lost hearing in my left ear because of them and I know for a fact that the gray hairs that are currently lining my face are because of them.
But when my brother announced his engagement and set the wedding date was set for January 1 in New Mexico, there was only one way we were going to get there: road trip.
I live in New Jersey. That’s far. Like 2,100 miles far. Plane tickets were way too rich for our blood and surprisingly, so were Amtrak’s, but I wasn’t going to miss my brother’s wedding.
The idea of a road trip seemed daunting and I was incredibly nervous about everyone’s sanity sanity being trapped in a car for 2,100 miles.
It turns out, I didn’t give my kids enough credit. They were, in fact, great road trip partners. I underestimated how exciting the change of scenery can be. I forgot all about the firsts they would be discovering and the power of adventure.
We caravanned with my uncle and his family and we used walkie talkies and everything ; real “Smoky and the Bandit” shit. Taking into account the uncertainty of winter travel, we chose the southern route through Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and finally into New Mexico. We even drove Route 66 for a portion of the trip.
The drive was a ton of fun. Much more fun than if we just went to an airport and flew across the country. Sure, you get to your destination a lot faster and probably with fewer actual concerns, but we would have missed the adventure.
Here are 10 reasons you should set a course for a road trip of your own.
1 | The adventure.
I am that parent: The parent who enjoys the journey as much as the reward. And so are my kids (I tend to think most kids are). A long road trip may seem arduous but the memories will stay with them forever.
2 | A practice in patience…for everyone.
I practiced the art of deep breathing quite often. One might say that I perfected it. As for my kids, they learned that we can’t magically appear in different states. Although that would be awesome.
3 | Exposure and education.
My kids were exposed to different cultures and different ways of life during our trip. They saw mountains and different types of architecture; they saw crosses on buildings (not common in the Northeast except on churches) and learned about the Mississippi River and the Arkansas River. We spent the day in Nashville and saw the famous Cadillac Ranch in Texas.
4 | Family time.
Look, there isn’t much to do but talk to each other when you are trapped in a car for six hours at a time. We talked and talked and talked!
5 | Packing and preparation skills.
The boys were quite distraught when they realized about a thousand miles into the trip they forgot their Legos. Life skills people, I am teaching life skills over here.
6 | Learning to step out of their comfort zone.
We had grown almost too comfortable within our little one-mile town. Things like pooping in a public bathroom weren’t even considered before this trip. Now they are masters of the poop, hand wash, and air dryer. Again, life skills.
7 | Reconnect with extended family (or whomever joins you).
Cousins, aunts, and uncles played together and it was a reminder to all of us how important family is.
8 | You as the parent, see all these firsts through their eyes.
At four-and-a-half years old, a lot of firsts are behind us, and a lot more are way into the future. This trip gave us an opportunity to experience a few unexpected firsts – a very pleasant surprise.
9 | You learn to slow down.
Kids live life at their own pace. I find myself hurrying them often. This was a great opportunity to live in their pace.
10 | We bought fireworks.
This may seem trivial, but when I was a kid we would always buy fireworks on our drive to Disney – just little things like sparklers, snakes, and small crackers. I got to continue this tradition with my boys. (It’s illegal to buy or own fireworks in the state of New Jersey.)