Hello! We’re back from our almost three week epic road trip vacation, and I have to say, it was fabulous. So many beautiful places, hours spent with beautiful people, and beautifully focused family time. It was really wonderful to visit our old home of nearly 14 years, but also really wonderful to return to this new home.
When we moved to Missouri almost two years ago, in October of 2012, we also drove across the country. But since it was October and we weren’t sure what kind of weather we would encounter, we didn’t camp, but stayed with friends and in hotels. This time, we camped 10 out of 18 nights, and with two young and energetic children, ages 3 and 6, just being able to cook and sleep outdoors was a phenomenal balance to the long hours in the car.
So, today I want to share a few of the tricks that made this trip so wonderful (and of course sneak in a few photos of our journey!)
Travel your Values (but be willing to flex!)
At home, we eat almost an almost exclusively whole foods diet, made from scratch. We have a few favorite prepared foods, like tortilla chips, ice cream, or crackers, but we try to cook and bake as much as possible. Continuing to eat this way on our road trip made us all feel comfortable and well-nourished. Immediately before the trip, I stocked up on Farmer’s Market produce that I knew would travel well – green beans, cucumbers, and zucchini, for instance – and also harvested as much as possible from my garden. We ate delicious meals without having to shop for at least 5 days and saved a lot of money in the process.
Of course, there are times when you’re in the middle of a state with few natural food stores, and the only option for grocery shopping on a Tuesday at 6pm is the Super Walmart. Be gentle on yourself and make the best choices possible from what is available.
We literally started this trip with no itinerary – just a vague idea that we wanted to see some relatives in Idaho, and perhaps also explore the Badlands of South Dakota. Part of the joy of approaching a trip with this much freedom is that it gave us wiggle room to take detours and explore some really amazing places!
For instance, when we were in the Grand Teton National Park, we realized we’d be driving right past a friend’s town. We were able to spend an hour checking out he and his wife’s amazing Earthship home in progress.
More is not More
Making one more stop, pulling over to check out one more scenic overlook…they are not necessarily going to make your trip better. In fact, we found that the fewer stops we made, the happier we all were. Rather than unbuckle and buckle the kids into their car seats over and over again, we found that taking longer breaks to really play and enjoy our surroundings was so much more relaxing and fun!
Similarly, we packed very lightly for this trip, as we took the Amtrak train home. To help pass car time for the kids, we brought ONE small bag with a few coloring books, magazines, and books. We downloaded several Sparkle Stories and had a few books on tape. The rest of the time the kids drew pictures. For HOURS they drew! Even Everett, who does not seem to be drawn to artistic endeavors at home was asking for paper and crayons every day. (By the way, I wish I had a photo of this, but my husband made lap drawing boards out of very thin masonite board and they were amazing for car art!)
Play in Water Every Day
If I had to give one piece of advice for how to have a happier life, it would probably be this: Play in water every single day. My friend Mike has inspired me over and over again by his philosophy: “If I know I can get warm and dry, I will always jump in water.” Even just hanging out NEXT TO water brings a whole new level of energy to my day, but certainly the best is when you find an amazing alpine lake to plunge into!
I’m sure there are some seasoned road trip campers out there, so I’d love to hear from you:
What is your best tip for a totally awesome road trip with kids?