Having small kids makes life amazing and challenging at the same time. With little ones you're limited to what you can do. Having pre-teens definitely changes all of that, making things a little bit easier and less stressful - like traveling. Did I just say that??
I'll share my stories, words of wisdom, and photos from our nearly three week journey across the Southern United States.
Five little words. That’s where it all started.
Let me back up though. This wasn’t an out of the blue and all in one conversation. My husband and I have tossed around the idea for some time now of taking the kids out of school for twelve months and touring the United States. Just pack up the truck and learn first-hand about what many have only read about in a book or seen in an internet search.
The thought of a yearlong road trip has always piqued my interest. I would say to myself, “Yes! I can do this; we can do this! It will be incredible”. Then the rose-colored glasses crack, and disintegrate in front of my eyes. Maybe traveling for twelve months with two pre-teens might not be as incredible as it sounds. My realization solidifies during our weekly 3-minute long car rides from the house to Target. These micro trips can induce such over acting, emotional back and forths that even Ric Flair would stand against the ropes in awe. I might be exaggerating here...
But, if we have a year to plan for a trip, the possibilities and opportunities become endless. The kids will get older and learn to cope in the car together. We will grow as a family and be more tolerant of each other. It is upon further self-reflection that I realize, it's me. I’m not quite ready for that kind of commitment. Twelve months is a long time in a small space with three other people.
That being said, at least twice a year we try to make small road trips, within 10 hours or less of our house. We visit somewhere unique, educational and fun. Until this summer, 10 hours on the road was our max. That was the trip we planned to Moab and had one of the most incredible Spring Breaks to date. We learned, we survived, and with a little time in between, we planned another trip.
What many of my friends and family have figured about us is that we don’t “vacation” to relax. We vacation to learn about something new. In Southern California we immerse ourselves with classical art masterpieces. In Utah we find hidden dinosaur tracks and compare footprints. In New Mexico we play in sand dunes that took 10,000 years to form. We don’t pick the fancy hotels to lounge in because we spend as little time there as we can. Traveling is for learning.
So, when we revisited the twelve-month long trip I realized I was still fighting the idea and decided to lean more to no than yes. But we aren’t a family who gives up easily and throws in the towel. Through tedious negotiations we decided to divide the country into pieces. Manageable, time conscious pieces and we started with a three-week Southern US tour. While it sounded like an idea I could get behind I was still a little apprehensive.
For this manageable piece we would start in AZ and make our way to the Gulf Coast of Florida and back again. Born and raised southern, this was a trip I desperately wanted to make. To be honest, I had never been to New Orleans and I wanted to try my first beignet. Also, who doesn’t love the white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. (Don’t say you don’t, because you know you do.) I told my husband he had me at Florida. So, we packed a suitcase and a cooler and made our way through some of the most beautiful country in the US.
Visit my site again soon as I add to my stories of living out of a suitcase for 19 days…