Family Road Trips

I’m a fan of the road trip. In college I was astounded at the freedom a car gave me. Having grown up in the suburbs of Chicago, pretty dependent on public transportation, I was used to thinking in terms of buses and subways, stations and schedules.

My sophomore year of college I, as my Dad tells it, snookered my parents. I took my savings to the used car dealership and planned to by a car in such bad shape that my Dad shuddered and kicked in the money for a decent used car that didn’t terrify him. That 7 year old Chevy Nova (a terrible name for a car if you speak any Spanish) and I travelled thousands of miles over the next 5 years.

I learned the art of packing a cooler and heading off to LA for a week (from Pittsburgh), or making a trip to the diner at 11pm a trip to a diner in the next state over. It’s possible that I am responsible for a large chunk of global warming. Luckily I married a man who also loves to road trip, and is a LOT more environmentally responsible.

So now we road trip with the boys.

Packing can get a little out of hand. It turns out that over-packing may be genetic. One notable weekend trip our 3 year old looked at the load of stuff to go into the van and asked, “Umm, are we moving?”

We pack enough food to feed a small country. We bring games and books and sports equipment. Clothes, it turns out, are the lowest priority. And yes, we have a DVD player in the van for long trips and a complicated mathematical equation for figuring out what we watch and who gets to pick.

But I still love it. Getting the six of us out of our house makes us parents a little more fun and a little less predictable. The huge amount of time together without friends and social pressures and other distractions make the boys pay more attention to each other. They create games and jokes and traditions.

Traveling is not smooth. But it’s the potholes that make the best stories and strengthen our bonds. So this summer if you have some time and a little extra gas money, hit the road Jack.

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