Most people roadtrip for the obvious reason of saving money. It almost always costs less to drive a couple of states away to Grandma’s than to fly a family of four. But saving money isn’t the only reason reason to hit the road with your kids. Here are five more:
1. Slows You Down to See the Good Stuff
Before I had kids, road trips consisted of a starting point and a destination and I drove as fast as I could between the two. But how much stuff did I miss back then? A lot, I’m finding. Since kids can’t sit in the car for a twelve hour stretch, scan maps for points of interest a short distance from the road, or just keep an eye out while driving. Over the years, we’ve explored dinosaur excavation sites, ghost towns, gravesites of famous explorers, caves & caverns, museums, defunct gold mines, and more. But don’t feel pressured to find high-thrills. After stopping at an open space to picnic on a boring stretch across Wyoming one year and being treated to a river jumping with frogs, we began pulling over randomly at rivers and bodies of water in hopes of finding more treasures. Sometimes the treasure was just tromping barefooted in squishy mud, but always it lit up the faces of the little ones.
2. Builds Character
Ok, so maybe you think you’ve got enough character, but we can all use more, and you’ll be forced to transform from your usual self to Road Trip Parent. About 30 minutes into a trip I remember I must put aside my usual quick-to-be-annoyed attitude and readjust to Roadtrip Mom. I try to let all complaints and whining slide right over me and quickly pull over to assist whenever anyone in the back seat needs something they can’t get or do on their own. When I start to get annoyed, I take a deep breath, remind myself we’re on a roadtrip (woohoo!), and release the occupants to run free.
3. People are Nicer to You
I’ve always been met with kinder service and a more pleasant demeanor from persons I’ve encountered when traveling if my children are with me. I was reminded of this recently when I woke up extremely ill at a campsite in the desert with my two kids and needed to get out of the heat and lie down close to a bathroom. I checked into a motel at 7:30 am and before the hotel clerk knew I had children, she seemed suspicious of my intentions, maybe because it was so early and the motel was so seedy, but once she and her co-worker saw I had children with me, they were more than accommodating and helpful. Traveling overseas, this especially rings true.
4. You’re Educating your Children
All that good stuff you’re stopping for because the kids can’t sit too long is covering history, science, arts, geography, social studies, etc., etc. It’s education disguised as fun, and they’ll remember the details much better than something they’ve read in a book.
5. You’re Building Family Memories
This is gold. Even the disastrous moments go down in family history and are something you’ll talk about (and laugh about) long after they’re grown.