We travel a lot. But it wasn’t like we just woke up one day and thought, “You know, let’s take our toddler on a bunch of multi-hour flights, cram him into packed French subways, strap him to our backs and hike to glaciers, endure time changes, weird food and missed naps…that will be easy.” The bravery to travel with kids was instilled in us. Passed down like a precious family heirloom. Our parents showed us that it was possible, and gave us the passion to pursue it.
My parents didn’t have much extra money. My dad was (is) a phone man and my mom stayed at home with the four of us. But that didn’t stop us from rambling all over the central U.S.—windows down, my dad’s dark tanned arm dangling out over the side with his fingers floating across the breeze.
At least one of us would lounge across the luggage in the back of our red 1985 Suburban, while the others played “Slug Bug” or “Road Trip Bingo” with those little clear window cards. Seatbelts were optional, obviously. I’d usually feel car sick. My mom would read aloud to us for hours until she got hoarse.
Sometimes we’d have a cooler with sandwich meat in the back, other times we’d stop for Chicken McNuggets®. But we always drank out of bright neon Allsup’s cups that took just 19₵ to refill to the brim with bubbling Dr. Pepper®. (Actually, if you have one of those stashed away that you’d be willing to part with, let me know.)
The drives were long. We’d often cruise straight through the night to save time, and money on motels. Sometimes in torrential rain. Many times hauling our pop-up camper.
It wasn’t perfect, and our destinations were never luxurious. But it was always magical. New worlds opened up meandering through the Garden of the Gods—with the massive rock formations jutting up around us from the ground. Our imaginations expanded wandering through the Mars-like terrain of the Badlands. Our perspectives changed coming face-to-face with people whose day-to-day looked very different, but whose basic desires were the same. Our minds sharpened staring up at four giant stone faces of those who paved the way for this adventure and freedom. And our love for our Creator grew wading through rivers in Colorado and breathing in crisp Ouachita National Forest air.
Plus, we got to see this. :D
Many parents think traveling with kids just isn’t possible. “It’s too hard.” “We’ll travel when they’re older.” “I can’t imagine taking my kid(s) on an 9-hour flight.” “They won’t remember it” “It’s too expensive.” But the truth is, you don’t need to put your dreams on hold for your kids. You can show your kids what it’s like to dream.
You can do it. It will be hard. You might have to go through 10 grocery bags as your son throws up on two flights or endure an ever-loving epic tantrum meltdown going through customs in Atlanta. Or in the Blue Lagoon giftshop in Iceland. Or leaving the Luxembourg Garden playground. Or nearing bedtime in Lisbon. Or…You get the picture.
But it is worth it!
Some years, your travels may be grand and dramatic. Or maybe they never will. Maybe you’ll tent-camp in a state park or stay with friends who live a few hours away. Sometimes we fly abroad, but over the last few months, I’ve felt the open road calling my name. But whatever you do, GO.
It will make a world of difference when open the door to the world.
What are some of the creative ways you've traveled with your family? Love to hear your budget tips and fun hideaways!